Photos of San Diego’s Spreckels Theater Building.

The Spreckels Theater Building was erected downtown in 1912.
The Spreckels Theater Building was erected in downtown San Diego in 1912.

I must confess I’ve never seen a show at the historic Spreckels Theatre. I do occasionally sit at a table in the building’s Grand Lobby. On a quiet Saturday I’ll eat lunch and write while watching pedestrians pass down the Broadway sidewalk, just outside the glass doors.

The mixed-use Spreckels Theater Building was built in 1912 and has been a cool sight in downtown San Diego for over a hundred years. While the upper stories are occupied by numerous small offices, the theatre itself was built as a 1,915-seat auditorium with an ornate Baroque interior. Over the decades, the theatre has also served as a vaudeville house and movie palace. Famous performers at the theatre have included Enrico Caruso, John Barrymore, Al Jolson, Will Rogers, and Abbott and Costello. In 1978, when Balboa Park’s famous Old Globe Theatre was destroyed by fire, the Spreckels was used as a temporary stage for the Globe. Today, as a live presentation venue, the Spreckels Theatre attracts many diverse attractions, including concerts, comedy shows, and dance and theatrical productions.

The six-story building, designed by Harrison Albright with influences from the Chicago School style of architecture, was built by philanthropist John D. Spreckels, a name you might have noted elsewhere on my blog. Spreckels was a wealthy sugar heir and leading San Diego entrepreneur. He wanted the building to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal, much like the Panama-California Exposition, that would be held in Balboa Park in 1915.

Plaque on The Spreckels Building indicates it's an historical site of the City of San Diego.
Plaque on The Spreckels Building indicates it’s an historical site of the City of San Diego.
The Spreckels marquee is a cool fixture on Broadway in San Diego.
The Spreckels marquee is a cool fixture on Broadway in San Diego.
Classic theatrical figures above and beside the marquee.
Classic theatrical figures above and beside the marquee.
Looking up at Spreckels sign.
Looking up at the Spreckels sign.
The polished marble lobby of the Spreckels Theater Building.
The shining, polished onyx Grand Lobby of the Spreckels Theater Building.
Close look at ornate ceiling in the lobby.
Close look at the ornate old ceiling in the Grand Lobby. The building has undergone several restorations over the years, most recently in 2012.
Many-colored light above inside entrance to the historic old theatre.
A Tiffany window depicting Nine Dancing Muses was originally above the theatre’s entry. While stored during World War II due to blackout regulations in the city, the window was stolen. It was replaced in 1985 by this colorful window designed by Yaakov Agam.
Gazing west down Broadway on another sunny day.
Gazing west down Broadway on another sunny day.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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