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San Francisco’s Oldest Theater Is In The Bayview; Will Undergo Renovation

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San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other dignitaries attend a groundbreaking for the remodeling of the Bayview Opera House and the Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre. (CBS)

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and other dignitaries attend a groundbreaking for the remodeling of the Bayview Opera House and the Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco’s oldest theater was built in 1888, but not many realize it’s located in the Bayview District. Over the next year, Bayview Opera House and the Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre will undergo a $5.3 million renovation.

The opera house, located at 4703 Third Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to city officials, the renovation will include a dramatic grand entrance that will highlight the historic building’s façade.

Berkeley professor and designer Walter Hood met with residents over the past year and a half to get community input on how to restore the venue.

“We look at this space not as just a community center, but it’s actually a vessel; a vessel that carries the memories not only of the existing community, the past community, but the future community,” he said.

Hood claimed he couldn’t sleep for about a week after the community’s words reverberated with him after they delivered their input.

“They let us hear what they had to say and it was very powerful.”

The opera house offers drama, yoga and music on a low or no-cost basis. San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen had been a student at the opera house.

“I took West-African dance lessons here with Betty Gamboa. The opera house is a very personal place for [me] and for my younger sisters. Within 30 days this community will have had four groundbreaking events,” Cohen said.

The renovation plans also include a plaza redesign, ADA access, and enhancement of programming.

The community has been invited to check out the bustling scene at the 3rd on Third Arts Celebration, a free event put on by the San Francisco Arts Commission, held on the third Thursday of the month, with food trucks, art-making activities for kids and a stage featuring local talent.

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