Carmel Magazine

CM Winter 2016 Issue

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Page 167 of 227

Well. What might seem like hysterical hyperbole to a 21st century reader was probably no exaggeration in the early 20th. The Golden State was a marvel of its time, designed by Reid & Reid, a prominent San Francisco architectural f irm whose other projects included the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and the New Sequoia Theatre Building in Redwood City (more on that later). The 1,600-seat auditorium was done in a Moorish-themed, "budget atmos- pheric" style and featured a mighty Wurlitzer Style 200 Special organ. The day after the first show, the Daily Review printed this account penned by the mysteriously monikered I.S.C.S. : "I grasped an old sensation and was transpor ted to the realms of Morocco and thought I was below the city walls looking upward into the star lighted vault above. The place is a dream inside." The Golden State hummed along for decades, its place as the Peninsula's preeminent movie and entertainment palace unchallenged. With the rise of the multi-plex theater concept, then-owner United Artists boxed off the bal- cony into two small-screen rooms in 1976. The building deteriorated and various (unsuccessful) efforts were floated over the years to convince the City of Monterey to purchase the building. The original Wurlitzer had been removed in 1954, sold to a private collector. Enter Tom Delay, an organ performer and restorer and Golden State admirer : "I grew up in Monterey and remember see- ing my first movie at the Golden State, 'Darby O'Gill and the Little People,' " Delay says. The organist purchased and restored a sister model of the theater's organ, originally crafted for the Parkside Theatre in San Francisco. With the cooperation of United Artists, he installed the instrument between 2002 and 2004, resurrecting pipe organ music to the Golden State for the first time in 50 years. The theater was purchased by sound engineer Warren Dewey with the intent of turning it into a concert venue. "It was run down, not used for much," says former Monterey Herald Go! Editor Mac McDonald. Dewey undertook an extensive overhaul, including the restoration of the balcony. "Warren saved the Golden State, period," McDonald adds. But it was- n't easy. "It wasn't built for amplified music," he says. "There was no such thing in 1926." He recalls a show he attended by singer k.d. lang. "She put down her mic, saying, 'this place was built for the human voice.' She sang unamplified. It sounded incredible." Dewey eventually moved on; McDonald believes he was more interested in restoring a theater than in operating one. 166 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 6 'In Monterey, we have excellent foot traffic, but there really is no entertainment. We want to light up downtown.' ~ Eric Lochtefeld Much has changed on Alvarado Street since this early-1930s photo, but the Golden State Theatre has been the Peninsula's entertainment hub for nearly a century. Photo: The Pat Hathaway Collection

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