History of San Lorenzo, California


Historical Evaluation of the Lorenzo Theater


Excerpt from Historic Resource Evaluation Report [Final]: Lorenzo Theater, San Lorenzo, California, Jan. 21, 2011, prepared by Page & Turbull for the Alameda County Redevelopment Agency. Figures are not included here. See also History of the Lorenzo Theater.



III. CURRENT HISTORIC STATUS

This section examines the national, state, and local historical ratings currently assigned to the Lorenzo Theater.


California Historical Resource Status Code

Properties listed or under review by the State of California Office of Historic Preservation are assigned a California Historical Resource Status Code (Status Code) of “1” to “7” to establish their historical significance in relation to the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) or the California Register of Historical Resources (California Register) Properties with a Status Code of “1” are already listed in the California Register or the National Register. Properties with Status Codes of “2”, “3” or “4” have been determined eligible for listing in one or both of the registers through various means of documentation, but are not officially listed. Properties assigned a Status Code of “5” have typically been determined to be locally significant or to have contextual importance. They may either be listed or determined eligible. Properties with a Status Code of “6” are not eligible for listing in either register. Finally, a Status Code of “7” means that the resource has not been evaluated for the National Register or the California Register, or needs to be reevaluated.

The Lorenzo Theater is listed in the California Historical Resources Information System (CHRIS) database, which means that the resource has been formally evaluated for listing in the National Register or California Register and has been assigned a Status Code. It bears the Status Code of “1CS,” which means it is “Listed in the California Register as an individual property by the SHRC (State Historic Resources Commission.)” [FN 1]


Previous Surveys and Designations

The theater was awarded the Art Deco Preservation Award from the Art Deco Society of California (ADSC) in May 1986. The ADSC’s preservation awards are given annually to individuals or organizations working to preserve the Art Deco style in architecture and other fields, and to buildings of significant merit in the Art Deco or Streamline Moderne styles. Award-winning buildings are honored either in recognition of their restoration/preservation, or in support of efforts to save and preserve them. [FN 2]

The Lorenzo Theater was designated a California Historic Resource in the California Register of Historical Resources in 2000, after being individually nominated by the Lorenzo Theater Association. According to the CHRIS database, it was designated by the SHRC and has not been included in any formal historic surveys of the area.


Historic District

The Lorenzo Theater is not located within the boundaries of any existing or proposed Historic District, as defined by the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historical Resources or a local historic resource inventory.


Planning District: Historic Preservation District

The property is zoned as a local Historic Preservation District, which is a zoning district established by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 2002. The property is completely surrounded by C-1 Retail Business District zoning. The Historic Preservation District designation is meant to encourage the preservation of historic resources that are economically and physically viable and to restrict inconsistent development. [FN3]


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V. EVALUATION

California Register of Historical Resources

The California Register of Historical Resources (California Register) is an inventory of significant architectural, archaeological and historical resources in the State of California. Resources can be listed in the California Register through a number of methods. State Historical Landmarks and National Register-eligible properties are automatically listed on the California Register. [FN 27] Properties can also be nominated to the California Register by local governments, private organizations or citizens. This includes properties identified in historical resource surveys with Status Codes of 1 to 5, and resources designated as local landmarks through city or county ordinances. The evaluative criteria used by the California Register for determining eligibility are closely based on those developed for use by the National Park Service for the National Register. In order for a property to be eligible for listing in the California Register, it must be found significant under one or more of the following criteria:

Criterion 1 (Event): Resources that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of local or regional history, or the cultural heritage of California or the United States.

Criterion 2 (Persons): Resources that are associated with the lives of persons important to local, California, or national history.

Criterion 3 (Architecture & Design): Resources that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, region, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values.

Criterion 4 (Information Potential): Resources or sites that have yielded or have the potential to yield information important to the prehistory or history of the local area, California or the nation.

The Lorenzo Theater was nominated for the California Register in 1999 and listed in 2000. It has a California Historical Resource Status Code of “1CS,” and was listed under Criterion 3 (Design/Construction.)


CRITERION 1 (EVENTS)

The Lorenzo Theater does not appear eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources under Criterion 1 (Events.) The Lorenzo Theater exemplifies the community amenities offered to the Bohannon Organization’s San Lorenzo Village. It contributes to the development of a post-war suburban subdivision in the East Bay. However, the theater was part of a larger commercial and service sector of the neighborhood, and is not individually significant within this context such that it warrants listing under Criterion 1 as an individual resource. The building was not nominated for the California Register under this Criterion in 2000.


CRITERION 2 (PERSONS)

The Lorenzo Theater does not appear eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources under Criterion 2 (Persons.) Research has failed to turn up an intimate association with prominent persons that would justify its inclusion in the California Register under this criterion. The building was not nominated for the California Register under this Criterion in 2000.


CRITERION 3 (DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION)

The Lorenzo Theater was listed in the California Register in 2000 under Criterion 3 (Design/Construction) as a property that “embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction.” According to the California Register nomination form, the theater is “significant under California Register Criterion 3 as a significant representation of Art Deco commercial architecture in Alameda County. Both its exterior and interior design elements, including its tower, marquee, ticket booth, porthole doors, snack bar, and auditorium murals, serve to reflect the Art Deco style. It was also the first theater in Northern California to utilize fluorescent murals and black lighting in the auditorium area.” [FN 28]


CRITERION 4 (INFORMATION POTENTIAL)

The analysis of the Lorenzo Theater for eligibility under California Register Criterion 4 (Information Potential) is beyond the scope of this report. The building was not nominated for the California Register under this Criterion in 2000.


Integrity

The process of determining integrity is similar for both the California Register and the National Register. The same seven variables or aspects that define integrity—location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association—are used to evaluate a resource’s eligibility for listing in the California Register and the National Register. According to the National Register Bulletin: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, these seven characteristics are defined as follows:

Location is the place where the historic property was constructed.

Design is the combination of elements that create the form, plans, space, structure and style of the property.

Setting addresses the physical environment of the historic property inclusive of the landscape and spatial relationships of the building/s.

Materials refer to the physical elements that were combined or deposited during a particular period of time and in a particular pattern of configuration to form the historic property.

Workmanship is the physical evidence of the crafts of a particular culture or people during any given period in history.

Feeling is the property’s expression of the aesthetic or historic sense of a particular period of time. Association is the direct link between an important historic event or person and a historic property.

The Lorenzo Theater has undergone few alterations since its construction. The building possesses integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, and feeling, and association. The building has not been moved, and the surrounding area remains a commercial artery through a residential suburb. Thus, the building retains integrity of location and setting. The theater has been minimally altered on the exterior. It retains its original concrete construction, box office, marquee and tower with neon lettering, terrazzo vestibule flooring, and entry doors. Though furnishings have been removed on the interior, the lobby retains its original ceiling soffits and water fountain surround, and the bathrooms retain their original fixtures. The auditorium seats have been removed, but the stepped flooring remains, as well as the Heinsbergen wall murals and sculpted low walls with decorative railings. These character-defining features convey the building’s historic function as a movie theater. Thus, despite the fact that the carpeting, concessions counter, and seating are no longer extant, the remaining features retain integrity of design, materials and workmanship. The building has not been converted to another use, and retains its original appearance as a movie theater that was designed in the 1940s. Consequently, the Lorenzo Theater retains integrity of feeling and association. In summary, the Lorenzo Theater retains integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association, and therefore retains sufficient integrity to convey its historic significance under Criterion 3 as a significant representation of Art Moderne commercial architecture in Alameda County.


Summary of Significance

CHARACTER-DEFINING FEATURES

For a property to be eligible for national, state, or local designation under Criterion 3 (Design/Construction) related to type, period, or method of construction, the essential physical features (or character-defining features) that enable the property to convey its historic identity must be evident. These distinctive character-defining features are the physical traits that commonly recur in property types and/or architectural styles. To be eligible, a property must clearly retain enough of those characteristics to be considered a true representative of a particular type, period, or method of construction, and these features must also retain a sufficient degree of integrity. Characteristics can be expressed in terms such as form, proportion, structure, plan, style, or materials.

The character-defining features of the exterior of the Lorenzo Theater include, but are not limited to:

The character-defining features of the interior of the Lorenzo Theater include, but are not limited to:


Footnotes:

[1] Other categories for the “1” Status Code are: “1D” (Contributor to a district or multiple property listed in NR by the Keeper. Listed in the CR); “1S” (Individual property listed in NR by the Keeper. Listed in the CR); “1CD” (Listed in the CR as a contributor to a district or multiple resource property by the SHRC); and “1CL” (Automatically listed in the California Register—Includes State historical Landmarks 770 and above and Points of Historical Interest nominated after December 1997 and recommended for listing by the SHRC.)
[2] “Awards and Certificates,” Save the Lorenzo. Website accessed on 1 October 2009 from: http://www.savethelorenzo.org/about/awards_and_certificates.html.
[3] “San Lorenzo Theater- 16080 Hesperian Blvd, San Lorenzo, CA: Summary Report” (May 2009.)

[27] National Register-eligible properties include properties that have been listed on the National Register, and properties that have formally been found eligible for listing.
[28] “Lorenzo Theater,” California Register of Historical Resources Nomination Form, 10 February 2000.