The Garden Theatre Shines Bright Again

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Willow Glen landmark gets an Art Deco makeover and restores its animated marquee to its former glory.

When James “Bud” Lima and his father A.J. proudly swung open the doors to their shiny new cinematic palace on June 22, 1949, it instantly became a landmark in downtown Willow Glen. The theater's marquee announced a double feature of Humphrey Bogart's film Knock on Any Door and the Walt Disney movie So Dear to My Heart.

Sadly, The Garden Theater closed its doors in 1989 to moviegoers and in the 1990’s the interior was reconfigured into a retail mall and office building. It has changed hands a few times over the years, and on September 1, 2005, a new owner stepped forward. SDS NexGen Partners is a closely held real estate firm including managing partners, Shirlee DiNapoli Schiro and son Michael Mulcahy, as well as siblings Brian and Tim Mulcahy, Erin Stein and Paula Keane. The partners went right to work on a renovation plan.

After 10 years in disrepair, the Marquee on the Garden Theater will burn bright once again. Held together literally with wire hangars and bubblegum, Arrow Sign Company was hired to restore it to prior glory, including some exciting new animation. The rest of the building has also been renovated inside and out under the supervision of owner Michael Mulcahy, architect Maia Gendreau of MBA Architects, and Devcon Construction. The work includes a brightly colored Art Deco exterior, new signage, stylized tile floor, and lighting throughout. Two new tenants will join the roster this month, Starbucks and Bella James, a women’s boutique.

“My family has been in Willow Glen for four generations, and I can remember going to the Garden Theater as a child with my big brothers and sisters” says Michael Mulcahy, “and our family is very proud to be investing in our community by renovating this important building so it can better serve the Willow Glen business district”.

The Grand Re-Opening & Marquee Lighting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 30, 2006, 7:30-9:00 pm in the Garden Theater, located at 1165 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose. The Marquee Lighting ceremony will be held at 8:45 pm and will feature San Jose City Councilmember Ken Yeager and a blessing of the building by Rev. Peter Pabst, President of Sacred Heart Nativity School. All are welcome for a dessert and ice cream reception including a display of historic photos and videos of Wlllow Glen. For more information call 408-280-0435.

Pictures are available for publication

See link for Marquee Lighting Animation


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Darlene Tenes
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