Lost Neon - Crest Theater

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Who could forget the fabulous Crest or the Tower Theater? Fresno’s drive-ins were the most popular with teens, among them the Moon-Glow and the Sunset. The world’s largest outdoor screen was housed at the Sunnyside Drive-in. Did you hide in the trunk to save 50 cents or possibly steam up the car’s windows? Share your old Fresno theater memories here.
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frodoboy
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Lost Neon - Crest Theater

Post by frodoboy » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:34 am

Here is a night picture my grandfather took in 1951 of the Crest Theater neon sign in all its glory back in the theater's heyday.

http://www.krcenterprises.com/Fresno/

My grandfather owned Kaden Neon and Plastic Sign Company back in the 30's through the late 60's and designed and built the neon signs and marquees for many of the famous theaters in Fresno including the Warnors, TOWER, Wilson and Crest. He also designed and built many other famous neon signs in the Fresno area. My uncle designed the old Manchester center sign. I even got to work in my grandfather's shop in the early 60's and he allowed me to design and build a motel drive sign. I think the motel is now a hooker hangout! In the summers that I worked for him, I got to watch my grandfather design the signs from scratch.

Then I watched Howard build the metal housings. Then Joe would paint them. Then I watched Woody do the masterful bending and filling of the glass tubes and watched them come to life on his work table. I remember playing with the mercury that he used. It formed a ball in my hand and when I dropped it on the floor, it broke into hundreds of tiny ball bearings as it danced across the floor. It was very expensive and Woody got mad at me when I did it. Of course now we know how toxic Mercury is! Then I got to go and help Al and Lee put the signs up with their 80 foot cranes. Very scary indeed! My grandfather was a master craftsman and as honest as they came back then. He was very respected in Fresno during Fresno's greatest period in my book...the 40's through the 60's.
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frodoboy
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Re: Lost Neon - Crest Theater

Post by frodoboy » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:43 am

Correction! My uncle just corrected some of my errors. The Crest marquee was already built by the theater owner (Fox?) and my grandfather's shop (then a partner in Olsen signs)created all the neon work. If you look at the marquee today, it is pretty ugly without all that beautiful neon so I'd say my grandfather (and his team) really made that marquee pop!

My uncle also corrected me in saying that my grandfather's shop also created the other theater signs in Fresno. They were there before my grandfather arrived in Fresno. His and Olsen sign companies just serviced the signs. What do you expect? I was a little kid at the time and just thought my "gramps" did all these beautiful things! I still got in for free in most of the theaters!

neonluver

Re: Lost Neon - Crest Theater

Post by neonluver » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:19 am

I haven't been in Fresno in ages but every picture I see of the Crest Theater shows it with the missing neon on it's marquee. What the hell happened? Seems to me that this was one of the great examples of classic movie theater facades and what, they stole the neon? I don't get it.
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Big J
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Re: Lost Neon - Crest Theater

Post by Big J » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:10 pm

I've seen it lit, not too super long ago. I think maybe that photo's from a restoration perhaps.

NettiesKid
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Re: Lost Neon - Crest Theater

Post by NettiesKid » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:22 pm

The poor old Crest has been through a lot over the last few decades. I haven't been around the Fulton/Mariposa Mall area in quite some time (with good reason, that area is not safe anymore), but the last time I was there the Crest was housing a Spanish language church of some sort.

I remember seeing Close Encounters of The 3rd Kind and Jaws there as a youngster. It's always been one of my dumb fantasies that should I someday strike it fabulously rich, I'd buy the Crest and totally restore her. Maybe specialize in showing classic old films there like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Frankenstein, and so many others. Dress the employees in period clothing, just make it really nice. Too bad that will never happen. But it's a nice dream.

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