The most underrated columnist on the Fresno Bee's staff is Paula Lloyd. Her Monday column "Ask Me" where she fields general questions about Fresno, is sweet gooey Fresnoness. In today's column, a one Bryan Harley asks Paula about the history of the Old Liberty Theater in downtown Fresno. Here is Paula's response:
The red, white and green Mexico sign has since been removed.
The Renaissance Revival-style Liberty Theater was built in 1917 at 944 Van Ness Ave., near Tulare Street. The Kinema on Fulton Street, built in 1913, was probably Fresno's first motion-picture theater.
The Liberty Theater closed about 1929, but reopened to show "sound pictures" in 1931, after sound equipment, a new marquee and other improvements were installed. It was named Hardy's by its new owner, Gerald Hardy.
Hardy's was bought in 1967 by Trans-Beacon Theaters, which went out of business in 1971. In 1976, the theater was used for religious concerts and seminars.
In 1978, it was renamed the Mexico Theater, showing Spanish-language movies and staging live entertainment.
You may have heard Downtown Czar, Craig Scharton, recently talk about the Liberty on Flowing With Famous. He said it was a vaudevillian theater and is a perfect mid-size venue for concerts since it's made for stage acts and not showing movies (like the Crest or Warnors). This is big in this blog's book; a dedicated midsize concert venue that's built for good sound.
Please. Somebody. Paula, Craig, Bryan, Mayor Swearengin, anybody, bring the Liberty back to life again.
[NEW! Photo Credit: Bryan Harley]