Patriotic rally outside of Ye Liberty Playhouse with crowds and cars lining the street (circa 1910s) 3

Ye Liberty Playhouse was a stage theater that opened in the Realty Syndicate Building in March 1904, with an address of 1424 Broadway. The Realty Syndicate Building itself was constructed in 1912, incorporating the original facade. The theater was converted to a movie theater around 1917 and went through a series of name changes (along with an change in address to 1432 Broadway).

The auditorium of the playhouse had a 75' wide revolving stage, conceived by Harry W. Bishop.2 The original entrance was arched (similar to the existing entry to the north) and had steps up. Incised above the arch was "-19-Ye Liberty Playhouse-03-" (the year of construction), along with the comedy and tragedy masks.

Around 1917, the theater was briefly renamed the Hippodrome and used to show movies, "High-Class Vaudeville Feature Photo Plays, and Animated Weeklys". 2 It was also briefly known as The MacArthur Theater, before reverting to its original name. 1 By 1930, it was the Century Theater.

In 1933 it was remodeled into the 1,548-seat Central Theater. 2 In 1961, the theater at the rear was torn down, 6 and the front converted to retail space. The former arched entrance to the theater was removed at the same time, and the site is currently the southern entrance to the Foot Locker store.

Early History

Productions in its first year included a variety of plays and other events, including:

  • Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice presented by "Bishop's Company", starring Landers Stevens as Shylock and Jane Kelton as Portia. 4


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Links and References

  1. Central Theater, Cinema Treasures
  2. Theatres of Oakland, Arcadia Publishing, 2006
  3. Museum of Performance + Design, Performing Arts Library
  4. Shakespeare at Ye Liberty San Francisco Call November 23, 1904
  5. Central Theater Ready to Open Tomorrow Oakland Tribune November 3, 1933
  6. Film Quickie Shot In Theater Ruins Oakland Tribune March 29, 1961