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:
It was the dream Water Calvert promised, 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-Max 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, and even "dog contests" all took place on its wooden stage.
The Lompoc Theatre survived both the Depression and the turbulence of the 1960s, but midway through the 1970s, attendance fell to a level too low to be economically sound and the Calvert family closed the theatre in 1975.
Even though the once-elegant 450-seat theatre was officially closed in the 1970s, the family allowed many other people to try their hand at the movie business. The theatre reopened every few years until the last film was shown on the CinemaScope screen in the early 1990s. During the 1980s and 90’s midnight Rocky Horror Picture Shows were seen. Concerts and live theatre performances were also hosted into the early 2000s. It was also used as a “haunted” theatre over ten years ago, to the delight of thousands.
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.
The old building went untouched for nearly a decade. the Lompoc Theatre Project Organization came together in 2012 and campaigned for the theatre against community doubt and pessimism to gain the keys to the building in 2016.
By November 2017, the Lompoc Theatre Project had paid back-taxes against the building, cleaned and gutted the inside of the theatre, fixed its drooping marquee, received large donations from famous actors, and is now on its way to begin work on restoration and construction to turn the Lompoc Theatre back to its glory days.
2018 has seen many events hosted inside the theatre, including a huge rummage sale, Chamber Mixer and several theatre tours. Join our mailing list and continue to get updates and ways you can help with this valuable community project.