Royal Theater in Guadalupe
The Royal Theater in downtown Guadalupe could gain historical recognition as the city looks to restore the facility. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Royal Theater, a relic of Guadalupe’s past now slated for a starring role in its future, may get historical recognition. 

The Guadalupe City Council recently approved a resolution authorizing the Royal Theater to be included on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources.

In September 2020, the city hired a consultant to assess the facility for inclusion on historic registries, leading to a conclusion that the theater should be included on both lists, according to Carole Denardo of Provenience Group Inc. Her report and the city use both Royal Theatre and Royal Theater.

“The theater building also retains all seven qualities of integrity, which relate to its historic form, spatial arrangement, scale and massing, and it continues to exhibit the distinctive blend of Art Moderne and Art Deco architectural design elements,” Denardo said. “Despite minor alterations over its 82 years, it continues to reflect its historic function as an entertainment venue.”

The 5,084-square-foot theater at 848 Guadalupe St. (Highway 1) was built in 1939-40 and now sits empty under ownership of Guadalupe.

“Guadalupe is in the midst of planning city revitalization efforts, and there is much agreement that a refurbished Royal Theatre would be a draw to the community, which would enhance Guadalupe’s financial stability,” Denardo said.

On Friday, the city released a request for proposals for a development opportunity involving the theater and adjacent land.

Discussion of the Royal Theater’s historical status occurred moments after the City Council heard a proclamation condemning and combating racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

During the discussion, Mayor Ariston Julian noted the importance of Japanese immigrants in the theater’s history — and the city’s. 

“If you have a chance to read the information that is put forward on the Royal Theater information historic preservation act, it really details what the Asian community has done for the city of Guadalupe,” Julian said. 

The report is included in the agenda packet for the council’s April 13 meeting.

A pair of businessmen, Arthur Fukuda and Jack Takeuchi, who had theaters in Hanford, Sanger, Corcoran and Delano, built the Guadalupe theater, which opened Aug. 30, 1940.

“The movie theater was a welcome addition not just for Japanese immigrants, but for all residents of the community,” Denardo wrote in her report.

But both owners and a third man, Kiyozo Noji, who managed the Guadalupe theater, were detained and sent to internment camps in 1942.

During the next five decades, the theater had a number of owners before the city acquired the property.

Historic status could open up more opportunities for grants and other funding sources as Guadalupe hopes to restore the facility for modern-day use, city staff said. 

The city has set a May 17 deadline for submission of Royal Theater development proposal packages, available by clicking here.

The proposal includes an additional 19,134 square feet of vacant land with the objective of creating a high-quality, commercial or mixed-use project consistent with the city’s General Plan and market conditions.

It wouldn’t be the first site to receive historical status.

In 2019, the State Historical Resources Commission voted to include the former Palace Hotel, later the longtime home to the Far Western Tavern, on the California Register of Historical Resources.

The same year, the State Historical Resources Commission agreed to add the Santa Barbara Club to the National Register of Historic Places.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.