AKA: State Theatre, Downtown, Watsonville, CA; T and D Theater, Downtown, Watsonville, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Weeks, William H., Architect (firm); William Henry Weeks (architect)

Dates: constructed 1914

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18 West Lake Avenue
Downtown, Watsonville, CA 95076

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The Appleton Theatre, designed by the busy architect William H. Weeks (1864-1936) operated from 1915 until 1967. It stood next door to the Appleton Hotel (built 1911), and was demolished following the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989

Building History

William H. Weeks designed this 945-seat theatre for a site in Downtown Watsonville, CA. The theatre's ownership changed hands several times. The Cinema Treasures.org web site has said: "Opened in 1914, it was originally named the Appleton Theatre in honor of the thriving apple growing industry of the Watsonville area, the theater soon became part of the T&D (Turner & Dahnken) circuit, which later was acquired by West Coast Theatres, which in turn became part of Fox. As a Fox theatre, the house became the State Theatre." (See Cinema Treasures.org, "State Theater," accessed 03/13/2017.) The local agricultural community devised a festival, the Apple Annual, to publicize the city's prime crop that began in 1910. This yearly celebration drew many visitors to Watsonville before the Depression, and the Appleton Hotel opened in 1911 and the Appleton Theatre three years later to serve them.

Ford's Department Store, founded in 1852, operated next door to the Appleton Theatre, and after the venue stopped showing Spanish-language films in 1967, Ford's took it over, doing some renovations to the interior, and using it as a warehouse.


A fire happened in 1925, necessitating the remodeling of the interior. Like many buildings in CA at the time, the Spanish Colonial Revival Style was used for the interior.

After Ford's took over the building in 1967, it changed some of the theatre's interior to suit its needs as a warehouse. Cinema Treasures.org stated: "The organ chambers were removed and the main floor leveled, but otherwise the interior remained remarkably intact—balcony, wall niches, proscenium with busts of Conquistadores, firecurtain, even chandeliers—until the building’s demolition along with the department store next to it following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake." (See Cinema Treasures.org, "State Theater," accessed 03/13/2017.)

PCAD id: 20969