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Warnors Theatre

This historic performance facility in downtown Fresno initially delighted the public with vaudeville shows in 1928, then swiftly developed into a silent-movie theater. Warnors Theatre’s lengthy history continues today with live music performances and sold-out productions ranging from comedy to Broadway and children’s theater. The atmosphere of this ancient theater is half the enjoyment of attending any event. The Warnors Theatre is an eclectic mix of Moorish, Spanish, and Italian Renaissance Revival features located at Fulton and Tuolumne Streets in downtown Fresno. Private celebrations, such as wedding ceremonies and receptions, are also popular at Warnors Theatre. On October 20, 1928, the Pantages Theatre first opened its doors. Built for and maintained by Alexander Pantages, this gigantic structure covers up a full city block in downtown Fresno, CA. It is equipped with a Robert Morton theater pipe organ. Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. purchased the company in 1929 and named it Warner’s Theatre. In 1929, Warner Brothers acquired the theater and renamed it “Warner’s Theatre,” making Fresno the second West Coast city to have a Warner Brothers motion picture theater. Until 1973, when it was sold to the current owners, the theater was mostly utilized for movie pictures. Since then, it has primarily been utilized for concerts. It was transformed into a Cinerama theater in December 1962, and it opened on December 21, 1962, with “This Is Cinerama” and continued to show Cinerama feature films until December 1968. When it was faced with demolition in 1973, Frank Caglia, a theater organ aficionado, bought it and renamed it Warnors Theatre (due to copyright of the Warner name). By 1987, it had been refurbished according to the ideas of Seattle architect Richard F. McCann, a successor to the Priteca company, while keeping all of the building’s original elements. After Frank Caglia’s death in 2006, the theater was turned over to a non-profit organization and is now used as a performing arts venue. The theater’s distinctive pipe organ is a notable feature. The Robert Morton Organ Company of Van Nuys, California, produced and installed a unit orchestra (a pipe organ with multiple functions and instruments claimed to be able to simulate the sounds of a complete orchestra with only one organist) in the theater in 1928. The organ was intended to be used as a soundtrack for silent films. Movies began to feature sound around the same time the organ was to be installed. Despite the theater’s attempts to cancel the purchase, the organ was installed. The organ includes 14 ranks and a four-manual console with 720 keys, pedals, and combination pistons, as well as 1,035 pipes. Until 1973, the organ was widely utilized for film productions. Most accompanying orchestras were replaced by unit orchestras due to the high expense of compensating orchestra players.  In 1978, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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