The Stanford Theater
The Stanford Theater in in 1929

The Stanford Theater

The Stanford Theater in in 1929
The Stanford Theater now

The thread “Retro Movie You Would Like to See in the Theaters” over in the forums got me thinking about a theater that I loved to visit while I was living in Redwood City, CA. That theater was the Stanford Theater and is located on University Avenue in Palo Alto. Here’s a very brief history of it.

The theater originally opened in 1925 and from what I read it was quite a state of the art the theater at the time and for the next four decades it was the place to see all the big movies. By the time the 60’s came along it was no longer pulling in the large crowds that it used to and became a preforming arts theater. Then in the early 80’s it was playing movies again but as a second run theater where you could watch the Hollywood blockbusters months later at a discount price.

In 1987 David Woodley Packard, Son of the Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard, rented the theater for a week of Fred Astaire movies for himself and friends but it turned out that a there was quite a few Fred and Ginger fans out there and more than a 1,000 people lined up to watch each night. He soon begin thinking about buying the theater and restoring it and that is what he did. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation bought the theatre and begin a very thorough and expensive restoration. Using old photographs and any other records he could find returned to its former glory and they really did a nice job. Over the last decade the theatre has accounted for 25 percent of the nationwide attendance of classic films.

That all happened long before I ever came to the area. I moved down there in 2000 and was thrilled to see a movie theater playing these classic films and would attend a showing when I could. I can remember watching a few favorites there like His Girl Friday, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Roman Holiday and The Adventures of Robin Hood to name a few.

If you’re in the area I would suggest seeing what is playing and if it something that sounds interesting swing on in, it will be a great time. You can find more information about the theater and a listings of what movies are playing on their website at It looks like Meet Me in St. Louis and The Secret Garden are playing this weekend.


I'm a kid of the 70's and 80's. Grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, Atari and Music Videos. My current hobby is repairing arcade games, mostly from the 70's and trying to find space to put them.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Great write up. I saw a few classics at the Stanford when I was living in the area. Definitely a place to be treasured.

  2. Rare instance where the theater looks better now. Love that they show classic flicks!

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Blinddog! Does my heart good to read about this theater being brought back to it’s original glory. If I ever get to visit California I’ll make sure to catch a film there. :)

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