Ingleside continues to be involved with the District Attorney’s Restorative Justice program. We said good-bye to Assistant District Attorney Sharon Reardon who has been selected to take over cases in a specialized prosecutorial unit at the Hall of Justice. We most certainly welcome Assistant District Attorney Rani Singh who has already jumped in with two feet and has been reviewing cases.
Our next Ingleside Community meetings of this year will be held on Tuesday, September 18 at 7:00 pm at the Ingleside Community Room.
Stay safe and remember if you “See Something-Say Something’!
Captain Daniel J. Mahoney
This gallery contains 6 photos.
Whole Foods Market opened its doors Wednesday, Aug. 29 to nearly 200 customers.
The San Francisco Department of Public Works has released its plans for streetscape improvement sites that will be payed for with funds from the Road Repaving & Street Safety Bond. Improvements include street paving, additional or updated curb ramps and sidewalks, new or fixed street structures like bridges and traffic signals.
View the DPW’s website here for more information. Examine the hi-res map to see potential changes in your neighborhood.
I have been informed that in the past 10 days that a neighbor’s car was stolen, a burglary occurred on Eastwood and an attempted burglary occurred on Faxon The car was found and returned to the owner. The attempted burglary was thwarted by the property owner who called 911.In both cases of burglary, there was a forced entry. The side door was knocked in.Both Ingleside and Taraval Police Stations have been notified. If you have information about these incidents, contact Officer Marie-France Conceicao atHere are some tips to help prevent breakins:
- Make sure your doors and windows are locked, particularly when you leave the house.
- Determine what locks to use by contacting a certified locksmith who can recommend a lock that matches your needs. Our neighbor, Jeff Lorton, told me that Consumer Reports recommends Medeco Maxum deadbolt. It is the only residential lock they have tested that cannot be picked, hammered, drilled, and are resistant to crowbars.(http://www.medeco.
- Replace any hollow core doors that are easy to kick in with solid core doors.
- Have a security alarm installed.
- Have a neighbor or friend keep an eye on your house when you are away.
- Keep a radio on when you are not at home and invest in timers to turn your lights on at night .
- Get to know your neighbors and set up a neighborhood watch. San Francisco Safe www.sfsafe.org provides information on home security assessments and setting up a Neighborhood Watch for your block.
- Report any suspicious activity to the police.
On August 8th, a fire early in the morning burned several businesses on Ocean Avenue’s 1500 block, forcing several to shut down indefinitely. On August 14th, Mayor Ed Lee and city department heads addressed the Ocean Avenue community about what the city will do to relieve the negative impact on the property owners, business owners and their employees.
The quintuple homicide in Ingleside this March was shocking. In his May 2012 Neighborhood Narrative column, Alexander Mullaney discusses what to do when a family is taken away.
By ALEXANDER MULLANEY
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER
As we stood on Ocean Avenue behind the yellow caution tape cordoning off Howth Street, a Lick-Wilmerding High School student told me, “I’ll never be able to look at this street the same way again.” A family of five was found slain in their home that morning. The LWHS student said he went to the school-wide assembly to talk about the murders that occurred across the street from campus and that he lived around the corner. His remark, undoubtedly about the shocking nature of the crime, pointed to the psychological trauma of it all—this would linger and perhaps scar.
Ingleside lost a family on March 23. Hua Shun Lei, 65, and his wife, Wan Yi Wu, 62, as well as their children, Ying Xue Lei, 37, her brother, Vincent Lei, 32, and Chia Huei Chu, 30, Vincent Lei’s girlfriend, were brutally killed. Two days later, a family friend named Binh Thai Luc, 35, was detained and later charged.
This violence didn’t occur near this student’s home but near all of our homes. With that in mind, it is critical to understand that now is not the time to ask “Why?” but precisely the time to ask “What can I do?”
As justice takes its course, an integral part of the healing process, we cannot simply wait for the verdict to be determined. We must, as a neighborhood, address this wound and prevent any scarring. We must not delay when so abruptly and acutely hurt.
But how and when does healing begin? When the media crews leave and the yellow caution tape is pulled down? When the last of the memorial flowers have disintegrated and been dispersed by the wind? Grieving, as complicated as it can be and likely is in this case, must start off right to end up right. The best way to cope is to come together, work together and be together. There is much to be done.
Peace doesn’t happen involuntarily. It is made. We must make our peace. We must let our response to the slaying on Howth Street serve as a guide for what to do whenever calamity or tragedy strike.
On June 16, the neighborhood non-profit Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse along with Friends of the Urban Forest, Urban Farmer Store, District 11 Council, Excelsior Action Group and the OMI-Neighbors in Action will host a morning tree planting ceremony for the slain family at the Phelan-Ocean Garden. To donate or get involved, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail Alexander Mullaney: email@example.com.
Over twenty neighbors gathered Sept. 8 to discuss the operating hours, sale of alcohol, security measures, gambling, age limits, and parking for the billiard hall proposed for 1948 Ocean Ave.
Two Discretionary Review applications had been submitted to San Francisco’s Planning Department requesting a public hearing on the proposed changed use for the building.
The business partners of Legendary Billiard Hall wanted to change the building’s use from
“Other Institutions, Large” that the previous occupant, a senior center, operated under to “Bar and Other Entertainment.”
The partners made concessions after an August 24 meeting with the Ocean Avenue Association, the neighborhood’s new community benefit district. Hours would be reduced
late at night. An alcohol license would not be sought. There would also be a security guard during operating hours, on top of security cameras. The age limit would also be 18.
Originally, the business plan called for 10 billiard tables and a wine and beer bar along with some food service. Now there will be nine tables, wireless internet and coffee, an idea proffered by Taraval Police Station’s Lt. Mar at the OAA meeting.
“It will have a family atmosphere,” said Mike Alahwal of Comax Realty, who represents
The Discretionary Review
Yong Winchell Yu and his partner have leased the space for six months, but neighbors only learned of the permit request notice a month before its expiration date.
“We’re trying, you know,” Mr. Alahwal said. “It’s bad. My clients have paid $60,000 in rent We have to start again or go to the hearing. I have to check with my lawyer.”
Fairfield Way resident Jeff Harding, 51, who filed a DR, split the $500 fee with one of his neighbors. Other neighbors later gave him money to recoup part of his half.
“Hours and alcohol are my concern,” he said. Mr. Harding went door to door with his five-year-old child to inform neighbors about the permit request.
If Legendary Billiard Hall receives a change of use permit, remodels, and opens, a liquor license could still be pursued. If that occurs, Mr. Harding said, “at least we will have their track record to look at.”
The Ingleside Terraces Homeowners Association also filed a DR application.
A resident of the Sunset, Mr. Yu, 29, graduated from San Francisco State University and works at a hospital. His business partner lives in Ingleside, attends City College of San
Francisco and works at a restaurant.
“There’s not much entertainment in this neighborhood,” Mr. Yu said.
Situated across the street from the Voice of Pentecost Academy and in the same building as a 1944 Ocean Collective medical marijuana dispensary, 1948 Ocean Ave. has been vacant for many months.
$150,000 will be spent on remodeling the building, updating windows, flooring, signage, electrical work, and painting, according to Mr. Alahwal.
“The OAA was supportive,” Mr. Alahwal said. “Howard Chung, the president, supported the idea of fixing up the building.”
Mr. Alahwal also said the rusted billboards on the facade could be restored or removed.
Throughout the meeting, residents found safety the primary concern.
“Pot patients already smoke in their cars in front of our homes,” a resident said.
When a resident pointed out that even if alcohol is not served, patrons will go elsewhere to drink, like to the nearby 7-11, Mr. Alahwal said, “We won’t allow drunks on the premises.”
“Isn’t it bad enough a security guard is required?” another resident asked.
“We know how to secure the neighborhood,” Mr. Alahwal replied.
The article appeared in The Ingleside Light’s September 2011 issue.
Al Adams, headmaster of Lick-Wilmerding High School, is retiring. In his 23 years there, he is credited with turning the school around and establishing a paragon independent
institution: a private school with a public purpose.
Adams said he will be able to commit more time to promoting the idea of private schools that do as much as they can to benefit the neighborhoods they reside in. He will begin
building a national movement based on LWHS’s innovative programs.
“I feel really blessed,” Adams said. “We have great kids that go to Lick and we love our neighborhood.”
Adams, a Harvard Ph.D, spent his 41-year career as an independent schools educator. Not parochial schools tied to churches, but private schools that tend to have progressive approaches to education. That foundation led him to follow his public purpose mission, set up several new programs at Lick and commit more time to the Ingleside itself.
“It’s pretty special,” Adams said of LWHS’s relationship with Ingleside. “It’s a very positive congenial relationship, and we see it as being mutually beneficial. It’s not just doing good for the community, we get a lot from the community too.”
Private School with Public Purpose
Founded in Potrero Hill as a technical arts school in 1895, LWHS was co-ed and included college prep work, which was a progressive idea back then, Adams said. It was also free.
Now, 40 percent of its students receive financial aid and it’s one of the most diverse private schools in the country. Adams took that history into account when he was hired. It was not a low point in the school’s history, Adams said, but it was clear the board wanted him to take the school in a new direction.
“He’s a visionary,” Beth Rubenstein of Out of Site Center for Arts Education said. “He believes education is really transformative.”
Adams reshaped LWHS into a school that models “other-centeredness and generosity of spirit for our students. LWHS’s ultimate aim, through its students and its graduates, and through its role as an institutional leader, is to make the world a better place,” LWHS’s website states.
All LWHS students volunteer for street clean-up days and other service-learning events as part of the curriculum. But over the years, Adams said he increasingly saw the need and benefit of getting involved with the Ingleside himself.
Supporting Nearby Nonprofits
“When the Carbarn was opened to the public for the first time after the Loma Prieta earthquake, MUNI sent out invitations,” Adams said. “I was curious because it’s right across the highway from us.”
There Adams met Dan Weaver, a proponent of the project to rehabilitate the Carbarn, and invited him to lunch over at the school. Adams listened to Weaver’s idea to preserve the building and make it into a youth arts and community center. The two have been friends
and co-founding board members of the Geneva Carbarn & Powerhouse ever since.
“Al understands the need for high quality youth classes and programs in District 11,” Weaver said. “He is able to express that need to others in a unique way because of his experience working in the private school sector and his understanding of the public purpose of education for all.”
When Beth Rubenstein came up with the idea to form Out of Site, Adams was one of the first people she talked to.
“He really got our idea,” she said of the visual and performance arts education nonprofit. “He encouraged me to base the organization in the Excelsior/OMI.”
Out of Site’s offices are now based in a Howth Street residence owned by LWHS. In keeping with the public purpose motif, Out of Site pays no rent for the property. Geneva
Carbarn & Powerhouse’s executive director and program director also share office space at LWHS.
Devotion to Education
Adams has been instrumental to the Bay Area Teachers Center, the Center for Civic Engagement and Aim High.
Since 1997, the Bay Area Teachers Center has partnered with San Francisco State University to train public school teachers. Teaching credentials are not required to teach at private schools, so this program demonstrates how central the public purpose idea is to Adams.
Adams’ most recent creation is the Center for Civic Engagement, started three years ago at LWHS. The center is its own non-profit organization that takes the service learning idea and expands it beyond the Ingleside and even the city. Students working with the center
build longer term projects that require more planning, more thought and more collaboration. It’s a process that prepares them for their working lives while benefiting a cause the students may not otherwise ever have known about.
Aim High is a summer school program for middle schools who need academic help. Adams will debut an Aim High in Kings Beach (Placer County) this summer.
Two projects that began this year will take LWHS students to Tanzania in July and bring
Japanese students to San Francisco in 2013. The Japanese students are from the tsunami devastated town of Ishinomaki where LWHS students are planning to help those kids re-establish their schools. The Tanzania trip is part of a service learning and leadership program where students help a school near the town of Karatu build classrooms and school furniture.
To Adams, this is what private school with public purpose means, and it’s now permanently ingrained in the fabric of Lick-Wilmerding High School.
“I’m excited to see what else he’s going to do,” Rubenstein said. “He should be very proud of his work and all the people he’s touched.”
The article appeared in The Ingleside Light’s July/August 2011 issue.
District 11 Supervisor John Avalos has not had a day off since a family trip to Yosemite in July. When he returned, he entered the race for mayor to find himself a popular candidate running a new type of campaign. —Alexander Mullaney
What makes your campaign different from the rest? I’m trying to bring people back into San Francisco politics. I’m concerned about who has the ability to shape what happens in City Hall because I see more and more that it’s the wealthiest, the one percent. I am running a campaign so that people can get a greater sense of our power and recover what we lost over the years. We lost a lot in January with the new mayor and board of supervisors. I was moved to a marginal role on the board based on the deal making for David Chiu to become board president. He wanted to be board president so he could get a better shot at being elected mayor. In that process, a lot of people lost a lot of power. I saw a candidacy unifying for working and middle class people that could make a difference in what we talked about in the election, and how we could create an idea of what government should be doing through the election and beyond. That’s what my campaign is about.
You’ve been campaigning for six months. Any big lessons or experiences? It’s been the most challenging thing I have done professionally. At some points I’ve wondered, “How are we ever going to get through this? How can I ever raise enough money to make this happen?” And right now, I don’t feel that way. Now things are coming along. We haven’t raised a million dollars, we’ve maybe raised $450,000. We are running a campaign that is changing the way we do campaigns. It’s a people-orientated campaign. It’s a lot of volunteers. We have signs going up all over the city. We’re really proud of it. We’ve worked really hard, and we’re really proud of what we’re achieving. We’re right up there with candidates who have spent millions of dollars, and we’re still climbing.
You’ve received a number of highly sought after endorsements. What’s that say? We got the Bike Coalition, Democratic Party, Sierra Club, California Nurses Association, Richmond Democratic Club, D11 Democratic Club and the Bay Guardian, which is really big. I really think that no one has said a bad word about me all this time, which I’m really proud of. I really think it shows how I work with people and I respect the people I work with. Also, it shows who’s behind me in terms of everyday people. I mean, it’s not my decision to run. I mean, it is but it’s with the backing of a lot of people who are really trying to create a city that we all can live in. So that gives me a lot of grounding, a lot of hope.
In debates and campaigning what District 11 issues have you brought to the foreground? Blight, Muni, commercial corridors. Our blight issues don’t get the attention from the city that other neighborhoods do. We are just like the Bayview/Hunter’s Point and Sunset neighborhoods that are furthest from the central part of the city don’t get the equity to make our neighborhood as livable as it can be. We have great assets that we can build on, like schools. We have a lot of elementary schools that are doing well. How can we make sure that we’re funding all these schools more adequately? The mayor doesn’t have direct control over the schools but can champion the schools. I want to champion our schools. Illegal dumping is a big issue I talk about a lot as well that is huge in District 10. We have a lot in common with other neighborhoods that are far away from the center of San Francisco. We talk about San Francisco being a transit-first city, but in these parts of the city, we don’t have as many options as other people do, and the options we do have play second fiddle to other parts of San Francisco.
Any legislation in the works? I’ll be looking at strengthening Local Business Enterprise participation in our public contracts. Affirmative action’s been eliminated so we can’t look at how we are doing according to race, but I think we need some approach that’s going to lift up a lot of businesses, especially black-owned businesses that are leaving the city and aren’t getting access to a lot of the contracts that we have. That’s a big thing I think that hasn’t been addressed adequately.
With the election closing in, how’s the future looking? I’m really excited about what could be in store for District 11. The campaign’s outreach has been able to focus attention on a mayor for the district’s needs, and my visibility across the whole city helps the district. I hope our district will continue to benefit from that no matter what the outcome of this election.
By Therese Poletti
When a big, luxurious movie palace opened on Ocean Avenue in November, 1931—still early in the Great Depression—the green and red neon glow from its striking 146-foot Art Deco tower made it seem as if Christmas had arrived early.
The residents of the neighborhoods and winding enclaves West of Twin Peaks welcomed the $500,000 El Rey Theater with open arms.
“To me, it seemed like a neighborhood Fox Theater,” said Frank Grant, 86, a native San Franciscan now living in Hillsboro, Ore., referring to the now-demolished San Francisco Fox on Market Street. He and his younger brother Charles would often go to the El Rey from the Parkside. “It was a great escape from the worries of the day.”
True to its name, the El Rey was indeed a king of neighborhood movie houses, with seats for about 1,800, an especially ambitious venture as the economy hit the skids after the Crash of ‘29. When the El Rey Theater opened on Saturday night, November 14, 1931, its towering presence was meant to anchor a burgeoning retail pocket of Ocean Avenue. After closing as a movie theater in 1977 during a dark decade of urban change, the now salmon-colored building still stands today, rescued by the Voice of Pentecost 34 years ago, and avoiding the fate of other shuttered, single-screen theaters.
Its name perhaps is indicative of the chutzpah of its original owner, local theater operator Samuel H. Levin, who decided to build the theater on the then-untapped commercial block of Ocean Avenue. In November, 1928, Levin first contacted local architect Timothy Pflueger about building a neighborhood theater in Mount Davidson Manor, across Ocean Avenue from the young Ingleside Terraces sub-division, built on the site of a former race track. A month later, he changed his mind and asked Pflueger to put his plans on hold, perhaps realizing that a commercial district needed to be more built up before he went forward.
“Levin in, says he has made some definite decisions, i.e. not to build a theater now, to build only stores,” Pflueger wrote in his office datebooks in 1928. Pflueger, a native who grew up in the Mission District, was becoming a well-known architect during the building boom of the Roaring Twenties. His firm, Miller & Pflueger had designed the city’s first high-rise skyscraper, the Telephone Building, and two local neighborhood theaters, the Castro and the Alhambra on Polk Street. Two other theaters, the Senator in Chico and the State in Oroville, more Moderne in design, had just opened several months before Levin called. In the late 1930s, Pflueger would also design the first main building at San Francisco City College, among the many works in the firm’s vast portfolio.
In the 1920s, West of Twin Peaks was growing as an affordable bedroom community. Suburban residential parks were carved out by savvy real estate developers, in anticipation of the opening of the Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1918. Beginning in 1911, the vast acreage south of Mount Davidson once owned by Adolf Sutro was sold and parceled off. Developers began mapping out separate, charming “residence parks” that exist today.
But the commercial district of Ocean Avenue where the El Rey stands was slower to develop, perhaps tainted by its earliest associations with drinking and betting. Previously known as Ocean House Road, or Old Ocean Road, in the mid-1890s, a special Southern Pacific train traveled through an alley in the trees of the Sutro Forest, taking passengers to the front gates of the Ingleside track at Ashton Avenue. The earliest enterprises along Old Ocean Road were road houses patronized by gamblers.
“They had high hopes for it but it started as a strip with seven saloons,” said Woody LaBounty, co-founder of the Western Neighborhoods Project who is working on a book about the history of Ingleside Terraces. “It was a watering hole strip for the race track.”
That began to change after the racetrack closed and it was turned into a refugee camp after the 1906 earthquake. In 1910, the Urban Realty Improvement Co., led by Joseph Leonard, bought the racetrack land south of Ocean Avenue and developed the 148-acres into Ingleside Terraces while St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill and other subdivisions were being built. Developers wooed buyers with enticing newspaper ads and news copy gushed about fresh air, poppies and handsome, reasonably priced homes.
It’s easy to see why Levin saw the untapped potential. The commercial blocks closest to the theater were still mostly undeveloped when he initially approached Pflueger. Levin already operated several neighborhood theaters in the San Francisco Theatres Inc. chain, including the Coliseum, the Alexandria, the Harding, and the Metropolitan, with Michael A. Naify, vice president. Levin had also opened a theater, the first Balboa, on Ocean and Faxon in Westwood Park, not far from the proposed El Rey site, in December 1922, but it closed in 1932, after the El Rey opened.
In 1930, Levin and Naify decided to proceed with the project, which would include stores flanking the entrance to the theater. Even though the stock market had crashed, the boldest of theater operators saw a need for escapist, cheap entertainment. Pflueger and his firm were already working on the Paramount Theater in Oakland and they would soon be hired by the Nassers, who owned the Castro, to design a theater in downtown Alameda.
As a result, the design of these three theaters, especially their interiors, is in the same Moderne, now called Art Deco, style. The Paramount, a far larger theater originally designed with 3,600 seats, was on a grander scale since its client was the studio and theater operator, Paramount Publix. The materials used at the Paramount were slightly higher quality compared with the faux gold leaf used in detailing the bas reliefs and ornament on the walls of the Alameda and possibly the El Rey.
The 1931 opening of the El Rey was heralded with big ads and news stories that described its “magnificent tower.” The stepped tower was topped with a flaring beacon, a built-in klieg light announcing the theater’s presence but technically was designed to warn airplanes of the tower in the often fog-shrouded neighborhood. The San Francisco Examiner described the tower as “sentinel-like in the midst of a new business block,” and said it was “destined to become a landmark by day and beacon star by night.”
In one of the few descriptions of the interior, the San Francisco Chronicle described the lobby as “richly-toned in black and gold, with a complete gallery of mirrors extending the height of the side walls.” According to blueprints, Pflueger first drew a series of masks, likely to represent comedy and drama, to be cast in plaster bas reliefs on the auditorium sidewalls, but that idea was scratched. A small part of the auditorium ceiling is still today covered with lacelike metal fins used more liberally and artistically at the Paramount.
Two grand staircases led from the lobby to the mezzanine, where patrons found a smoking room and other conveniences.
A rare photo of the interior taken in 1947 from the collection of theater historian and author Jack Tillmany shows a mural on the wall of the smoking room and specially designed angular, plush furniture. An even larger mural depicting modern transportation modes, a popular theme in the 1930s, graced another wall, according to collector Mark Santamaria.
“It was beautiful,” said Irene Kettler, 91, who worked as an usherette just after World War II. A long-time resident of Westwood Park, Kettler said in the 1940s and 1950s the neighborhood was like a small town. “We had a policeman who would walk up and down Ocean Avenue and usually they would come in to check if everything was all right, around closing time. On many, many nights I had a police officer walk me home.”
In the early days of the El Rey, the theater was home to the El Rey Food Shop, and a drug store. In the 1940s, a beauty shop and a dress shop occupied its retail spots. The base of the facade was originally faced with dark marble, probably black, highlighted with horizontal strips of stainless steel or chrome. Above the marquee, an unusual pattern of concrete blocks formed patterns of diamonds and vertical zigzags.
John Pflueger, a nephew of Tim Pflueger, lived in Westwood Park before moving up to a house his father Milton designed on Robinhood Drive. He remembers Ocean Avenue and the El Rey in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
“My father took me to a movie every Friday night. We went to the El Rey all the time.” Pflueger, who is also an architect now in Sonoma, said he was too young to notice the architecture, but he remembered the El Rey as a better theater than the others he went to, including the Empire in West Portal and the Parkside on Taraval. “I was a kid just excited to go see a movie and get some popcorn and stuff.”
During the counter-culture movement of the late 1960s, the first Gap store opened in El Rey’s retail space at Ocean and Fairfield Way, where inside the pop-painted storefront Doris and Don Fisher sold jeans and record albums. The neighborhood had started to change and at the same time, television was having an impact on movie theaters.
“I don’t think it was ever a premier retail strip,” said LaBounty. “I think the El Rey was a little over optimistic.” After Stonestown opened in 1952, “it was a harder place to do business,” he added. After the war, some of the residential parks witnessed a flight to the suburbs that was also occurring across the U.S. In 1976, the Chronicle described Ocean Avenue as on the “brink of ragged change,” with a Safeway about to close. In a return to the area’s saloon roots, there were “eight stripped-down liquor stores” over eight blocks. “There are empty parking places in front of older stores and only a handful of shoppers at noon,” the Chronicle reported.
According to Tillmany, the owners of the theater, then known as UA California Theaters, closed the theater in 1976, but “some fast talking entrepreneurs convinced them that its future was as a revival house” and UACT reopened the El Rey, after a $10,000 rehab. “The results were total disaster,” Tillmany said in an email. “The films they selected didn’t draw flies, and a dozen customers sitting in the vast expanses of mighty El Rey looked like lost children.” One film Tillmany saw in its last year was “Murders in the Zoo.”
The theater closed a year later. Its last hurrah as a theater appears to have been as host of a four-day Hookers Film Festival at the end of March, 1977 for COYOTE, the prostitutes’ rights organization founded by Margo St. James. That year, Marilyn Gazowsky, the founder of the Voice of Pentecost church who lives nearby, saw on the marquee that the theater was for sale. She believes she prevailed as the buyer because she was the only bidder who managed to get in touch with the owners.
“The young fellows who put it up there mixed up two of the numbers,” said Gazowsky, now 90, who still teaches at the Voice of Pentecost Academy once a week. “So United Artists never got a call. When my real estate man called, that was the first call.” Her church was only 11 years old at the time, but she had saved enough for a down payment on the bargain price of $365,000. The church holds services in the El Rey today, having done significant remodeling, with Gazowsky’s son Richard now its pastor.
Later this month, the church will convert once more to a theater on the evening of November 19, to celebrate its anniversary with a fundraiser for the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse. The Academy Award-nominated film, “The Smiling Lieutenant,” shown as the main feature at the gala opening in 1931, will be seen again in the theater’s auditorium. Eighty years later, the reinvented El Rey is a survivor in changing times.
Therese Poletti is a San Francisco based journalist and author of Art Deco San Francisco: The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger, published by Princeton Architectural Press.