Century 21 Theatre


Date:
1964
Architect:
Raney, Vincent G.
Neighborhood:
San Jose
Building Type:
Commercial
Address:
3161 Olsen Drive, San Jose, California
Current Name:
Century 21 Theatre
Current Use:
Theater
Current Condition:
Excellent (exterior), Altered (interior)
Status:
At Risk
In the early 1960s, Ray Syufy, owner of a chain of Bay Area movie theaters, hired architect Vincent G. Raney for the design of a futuristic dome theater in suburban San Jose. Syufy introduced Raney to the folks at Cinerama in New York who, in turn, shared with him the plans for a Cinerama dome theater. Loosely based on the Cinerama plans, Raney designed the first Century dome.

San Jose's Century 21 Theatre opened in 1964, the mothership in a series of Vincent Raney-designed dome theaters that would grace the Bay Area roadside in the 1960s. Although the Century 21 was originally designed for presenting films using the 3-strip Cinerama process, movies were actually shown using 70mm film. The theater was built to operate, and continues to function, as a one-screen venue, with accommodations for approximately 950 patrons.

Image credits:
Century 21 Theater in San Jose; photo credit Heather David

Century theaters marquee; Heather David

Ad for the Grand Opening of the Century 22 in Sacramento,  Sacramento Bee, Sunday, June 16, 1968, p. C7.  Research credit: Gretchen Steinberg of SacMod

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DOCOMOMO US/Northern California

P.O. Box 29226
San Francisco, CA 94129-0226

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