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.
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:
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.
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.