History of the Theatre

The Lompoc Theatre is legendary for its place in stage, music and movie history. From vaudeville to ballet, symphonies to rock concerts, from Hollywood classics to independent film, the Lompoc Theater has hosted it all.

Frances Flores Goyer of Lompoc works in the ticket office of the original Lompoc Theater during the 1950s. Photo credit: Lompoc Valley Historical Society.

Frances Flores Goyer of Lompoc works in the ticket office of the original Lompoc Theater during the 1950s. Photo credit: Lompoc Valley Historical Society.

From opening night in May 1927 well into the 1970s, the theatre was Lompoc’s primary venue for entertainment, culture and civic events. And it has always been for the community. During opening week, proprietor Walter Calvert sent an open letter to the local papers:

To the fathers, mothers, and children of this prosperous and enterprising community… to the masses and the classes, the new Lompoc theatre is respectfully dedicated. As an integral part of this community, the new Lompoc Theatre is hereby pledged as a public institution, where daily worries, work, and cares may be obliterated through the medium of the universal language — motion pictures. People of the Lompoc valley, this theatre is YOURS.

And so it was, providing a venue for local civic theatre and orchestra groups, as well as world-class acts ranging from jazzman Sonny Clay to cowboy crooners Sons of the Pioneers, from classical pianist Van Cliburn to Tex-Mex superstar Freddy Fender and R&B legends the Coasters. Even Liberace played the Lompoc Theatre!

The theatre was the heart of Lompoc culture and entertainment for many years. It offered much more than films. Concerts, plays, lectures, Mickey Mouse Club sessions, even dog “contests,” all took place on its wood stage.

But by the late 1970s, the theatre’s audience was declining. Competition from multiplexes and cable television, regional and national economic woes ate away at the viability of single-screen theatres, and ours was no exception. 

By the early 1980s, the theatre sat unused for longer and longer intervals.

Rex Allen Live at the Lompoc Theatre

Rex Allen Live at the Lompoc Theatre

The once-elegant 450-seat theatre has been largely unused since the mid-1970s. The last year a film was projected onto its CinemaScope screen was 1985.

In the mid-2000s, the Calvert family, after declining multiple offers that would have demolished the theatre, sold the property to a redevelopment nonprofit, the Lompoc Community Housing and Development Corporation (LHCDC). LHCDC’s plans to develop the property as the Calvert Center for the Performing Arts stalled and were eventually abandoned, leaving the Calvert’s greatest wish, to leave the theatre to the community, unfulfilled.