Pieces of the Park sold off as old theater prepped for final curtain

They may not ever see their names on a movie house marquee, but many of the shoppers at the Park Theatre pre-demolition sale last weekend reached for the next best thing: marquee letters big and small.

"The biggest item seller was the marquee letters," said Rebecca Miller of Whole House Building Supply, which organized the Nov. 2-3 sale. "We saw people coming in to grab their families' initials or their house numbers," she said in an email.

A long list of items were sold off in preparation for the razing of the long-vacant Park Theatre at 1275 El Camino Real in Menlo Park. Other big items grabbed up by shoppers wanting a piece of the Park included double doors with port holes, a neon light, stage curtains, theater seats, and the ticket booth, Ms. Miller said.

"There were conversations between customers and myself about ideas (for) repurposing the ticket booth to a shower, phone booth or a bar, although leaving it as a funky and functional ticket booth would also be a great conversation piece," she said.

The ticket booth was priced at $450 or "offer." Large marquee letters sold for $5 each or $20 for five; stage curtains were listed at $150; red theater seats were $1 each, while dark seats were listed at $3.

Buyers were responsible for removing their items before the demolition, using hand tools only. Owner Howard "Sandy" Crittenden told the Almanac last week that the demolition date hasn't been set.

Ms. Miller said many people who showed up at the sale "were disheartened to know the building would be torn down. These are folks in the area who used to attend movies. One customer said he came here when movies were 10 cents each."

The Park was built in 1947 and closed in 2002, although Landmark Theatres, which operated it as well as the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, indicated it wanted to continue leasing the building. Mr. Crittenden said late last year that he plans to develop the property as office and retail space.


Like this comment
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm

This just makes me sick. What a shame the Park Theater couldn't have been saved. As kids, our mom drove us to the Park Theater every Saturday afternoon in the 1940s and early 1950s where, for 15 cents, we watched a full-length movie, a newsreel, cartoons, and a serial episode. Too bad this wonderful piece of Menlo Park history is being destroyed. This is very disappointing, and just so upsetting.

Like this comment
Posted by gavino
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Early on a Sunday morning shortly after the Park Theater was closed in 2002, Mr. Crittenden destroyed the fabulous neon sign that graced the theater's marquee, thus creating instant blight from an economically viable building and leading to its inevitable demise. Perhaps some of us thought that Stanford University initially came up with this tactic on its El Camino strip of "abandoned" car lots by promoting the idea that restrictive zoning was the cause of their blight. Meanwhile they worked behind the scenes to gain new & greater zoning entitlements to be exercised once their long term leases, for which they were still receiving income, expired in 2013. At least Stanford's old uses were honestly no longer relevant, unlike Mr. Crittenden's theater property that he apparently could only see as his retirement golden egg when scraped away and converted to office space.

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