The Burbank Theater has been a landmark on Bascom Avenue for more than half a century. Sadly, it has fallen on hard times in recent decades, with some past dubious uses and a run-down appearance. I worry that a future owner may want to level the entire building to redevelop the property.
That’s why I was so heartened on June 19, when the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved my proposal to add the theater to the County’s Heritage Resource Inventory. The theater was designed by Alexander Aimwell Cantin and Alexander Mackenzie Cantin, a father-son architectural team who designed many significant California theaters. Several of their designs have already been designated as historic resources, including San José’s Studio Theater and the Mountain View Theater. Outside of Santa Clara County, the Orinda Theater, the Lorenzo Theater in San Lorenzo, and Napa’s Uptown Theater have been recognized as either local or state landmarks. In addition, the Cantin & Cantin designed State Theater in Red Bluff is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Burbank utilizes the rounded and linear forms that typify the Streamline Moderne architectural style. The three-sided “Burbank” sign gives the theater unusual prominence because it can be easily read both by motorists on Interstate 280 and those traveling on city streets, such as Bascom and Basile Avenues. The theater is within walking distance of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. In the future, once the current litigation over the building’s ownership is resolved, I hope the County gives serious consideration to acquiring and rehabilitating this marvelous theater, either for use by the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System or for another community purpose.