METRO THEATRE PRESERVATION
March 12th, 2009
PLEASE SUPPORT THE METRO THEATRE LANDMARK DESIGNATION!
The Metro Theatre is one of San Francisco's finest remaining theaters and retains a very high level of integrity.
The S.F. Neighborhood Theater Foundation believes that the San Francisco Landmarks
Preservation Advisory Board acted appropriately when it recommended approval of the the current landmark designation for the Metro that specifies interior and exterior elements including the volume of the Metro's interior as significant.
We believe that the Historic Preservation Commission should similarly recommend the existing Metro Theatre Landmark Designation to the Board of Supervisors for their approval. The Theater Foundation needs and appreciates your support in our efforts to preserve this important historic theatre!
Here are 3 three things you can do to support the Metro Theatre:
Attend the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Hearing on Wednesday, March 18th (12:30 PM, Room 400 City Hall) to voice your support for the Metro. Talking points are available below.
Please check the agenda in advance as this matter has been moved around a lot!
Write a Letter or Email in of Support of the Metro to the Board of Supervisors.
See talking points at www.sfntf.org under "News" for details about helpful points to make in your letter referencing Case No. 2007.1401L - Metro Theater, 2055 Union Street - Landmark Designation. Address your letters to:
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 244
San Francisco, Ca 94102-4689
Board of Supervisors Email: Michela.Alioto-Pier@sfgov.org;John.Avalos@sfgov.org; David.Campos@sfgov.org; David.Chiu@sfgov.org; Carmen.Chu@sfgov.org; Chris.Daly@sfgov.org; Bevan.Dufty@sfgov.org;Sean.Elsbernd@sfgov.org; Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org; Sophie.Maxwell@sfgov.org; Ross.Mirkarimi@sfgov.org
Letters can also be sent via e.mail to the planner in charge:
Take one minute to Sign the Petition!
Thanks so much and we hope to see you at City Hall on March 18th!
METRO THEATRE TALKING POINTS - FEBRUARY 2009
The matter that will be before the Planning Commission on 3/5/09 is whether to
approve the landmark nomination for the Metro Theatre recommended by the
Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board in December of 2008. This nomination
designates specific interior and exterior features of the Metro as
The controversial question
before the Planning Commission is whether interior elements including the
volume of the Metro's interior are worthy of designation. We believe
that they are and more specifically we believe that preservation of the
overall volume of the Metro's interior is essential to any meaningful
preservation of the building.
The property owner is
objecting to the Landmark nomination because it might complicate their
future plans for the Metro - which they have suggested will include
gutting the Theatre and converting it to a gym. No plans for a
project at the Metro, however, have been submitted to the City and the
appropriateness of this plan is not what is currently being
Again, all that is being
considered is whether the Metro is worthy of the current landmark
nomination. We believe that the Metro's nomination should be
considered on its merits and that if the property owner wants to make
future changes to the theatre they can submit plans to City for the
Planning Commission to consider. While
the Theater Foundation would obviously like the Metro to remain a theater,
it is important to note that preserving the volume of the Metro's interior
would not preclude it from being used for a variety of other uses.
San Francisco's Alhambra Theatre, which is now a gym, is a local example
of how the volume of a historic theatre can be preserved while a new use
is accommodated. Hence, while the question of the future use of the
Metro is not currently under consideration, moving forward with the
current landmark designation would not preclude a future
change in use - even of the type that has been informally proposed by the property
The Metro was shuttered at the owner’s discretion in October 2006 after the property owner bought out the remaining years on the former operator's lease.
At the time, the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation connected the property owner with a theatre operator that was willing to keep the Metro open while a long-term plan for the property was developed.
The property owner rejected this offer.
In August 2007, the Theater Foundation began working with Supervisor Alioto-Pier to
assist her in initiating the landmark process. In the fall of 2007 a resolution was introduced by
Supervisor Alioto-Pier. The landmark designation first went to the Landmarks Advisory
Preservation Board (LAPB) in February 2008. The matter was continued and the Planning
Department issued multiple extensions throughout 2008 so that the owner would have time to
submit additional information about the interior. The matter was returned to the LAPB in
Constructed in 1924, the Metro Theater, 2055 Union Street, was originally known as the
Metropolitan. Unlike other San Francisco theaters that have been decimated on the interior, the Metro is in
excellent condition and retains a very high level of integrity. It has become a visual landmark
associated with the Cow Hollow neighborhood for 85 years, a key element keeping Union Street
Designed by prominent San Francisco architects James and Merritt
Reid. The Reid Brothers designed landmarks including the Fairmont Hotel
(1906), the Cliff House (1909), San Diego's Hotel Del Coronado and
numerous theatres including the
New Mission Theater, the New Fillmore, the Coliseum, the Alexandria, the Balboa
and the York.
The Metro was built for owner Samuel H. Levin as part of Levin’s San Francisco Theatres Inc.
chain, which originally consisted of the Alexandria, Coliseum, Metro, Harding, Balboa and
In 1941 the Metropolitan’s interior and exterior were remodeled by architect Otto Deichmann,
associate of architect Timothy Pflueger, and re-opened as the Metro.
The auditorium’s main
volume was unchanged during the 1941 and subsequent renovations and retains the original 1924 configuration and
The Metro is significant under National Register criteria A & C. The building is representative
of a trend involving the renovation and update of classically inspired theaters of the 1910s and
1920s into the more modern styles of the 30s and early 40s.
The Metro Theater is an excellent
and intact example of early twentieth century theater architecture, renovated in 1941, that
combines elements of the Neo-classical and Art Deco architectural styles.
The Metro is significant for its association with the San Francisco International Film Festival,
the oldest international film festival in the United States. Organized by the Levin family, it was
the site of the festival’s Opening Night on 4 December 1957 and the site of the festival during
Amendments to Planning Code Sections 1004, 1005 and 1006.7 (Ordinance 82-07) state that
significant interiors in public or publicly accessible buildings should be clearly described in the
designating ordinance or landmark nomination.