The tours, which began Tuesday, June 26, allow aficionados of America’s stage and screen legacy to visit restored and original historical theaters. And according to society board member Gary Parks, the Grand is unique among the hundreds of theaters he has seen.
Not only does the Grand have space for the performing arts, it has studios and galleries for other media, and its design mixes architecture both modern and antique.
“Really, all the arts are involved there,” said Parks, a Sunnyvale resident. “That really makes the Grand stand out, even among the other restored theaters we’ve toured.”
He said two busloads of society members — who hail from around the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia — will check out the historical location in downtown Tracy.
The original 1923 Grand Theatre screened Hollywood blockbusters through the early 1970s and once hosted live acts, which petered out in the 1930s. In later decades, the space was used for storage and other purposes and finally abandoned and gutted.
The Grand reopened in September 2007 as the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, following a $19 million restoration funded by city redevelopment funds and private donations raised by the Arts Leadership Alliance.
The revitalized center, which incorporated two adjoining hotels, has a black-box performance space, art galleries and classrooms in addition to the main theater, which retains elements of the original style.
In addition to the Grand, today’s tour schedule began with the Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton and will continue with lunch at the State Theatre in Modesto and stops at the Merced Theatre and Fresno’s Tower Theatre.
The Theatre Historical Society of America is based in Elmhurst, Ill., and maintains an architectural archive and a museum celebrating “the golden age of the movie palace.”