AKA: California Theater #2, San Francisco, CA; New California Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Wood, James M., Architect (firm); James M. Wood (architect)

Dates: constructed 1889, demolished 1906

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Theatre designer James Wood designed the New California Theatre, operating in 1890, and billed in its advertising as the "handsomest theatre in the world." (See “New California Theatre,” Daily Alta California, vol. LXXXII, no. 153, 06/02/1890, p. 1.)

Building History

Architect James M. Wood (b.1841), who specialized in performance spaces during the last half of the nineteenth century, designed the New California Theatre in San Francisco, CA. Wood became a leading theatre designer, supposedly earning the approval of such significant actors as Edwin Booth (1833-1893), Lawrence Barrett (1838-1891) and Madame Helena Modjeska (1840-1909). According to the 1892 book, The Bay of San Francisco: "His design and supervision in erecting the magnificent New California Theater in this city was through the endorsement and special recommendation of the most eminent artists in the profession, -- Booth, Barrett, Modjeska and others." (See The Bay of San Francisco, [San Francisco: Lewis Publishing Company, 1892], accessed 06/18/2014.) Barrett co-managed the previous California Theatre in 1867-1870.

Building Notes

Al Hayman was the proprietor and lessee of the New California Theatre in 1890. Harry Mann was the manager at the time. (See “New California Theatre,” Daily Alta California, vol. LXXXII, no. 153, 06/02/1890, p. 1.)


In its last years, the California Theatre #2 became the "California Theatre and Hotel." Its dome and chimneys collapsed in the 1906 temblor, falling onto a neighboring fire department building at 410-412 Bush Street. This collapse killed San Francisco's Fire Chief, Dennis T. Sullivan (d. 1906).


The California Theatre #2 perished in the Earthquake and Fire of 04/18/1906.

PCAD id: 19254