Ghost of Lyceum Theater Haunts Safeway Parking Lot


Over on the Facebook, the Bernal Heights History Project shares this terrific photo of the former Lyceum Theater, which stood on Mission Street at the intersection with Virginia, at the north entrance to our Taoist Safeway.

The photo above was taken in the 1920s, and a brief history of the 1400-seat Lyceum lives on at the Cinema Treasures website:

The Lyceum Theatre opened in mid-1907, with vaudeville and motion pictures. By the late-1920’s it was featuring Vitaphone Talking Pictures, and remained a popular low priced, late run house for patrons of the outer Mission district for the next twenty-five years.

Like so many other secondary houses, it was one of the first to feel the impact of television in the early-1950’s, and, after several closings and re-openings, became the temporary home of the San Francisco Revival Center [church], before they moved to the former State/Del Mar (q.v.) which they then made their permanent home.

Here’s a shot of the interior:


Lest we be tempted by nostalgia, one commenter at the Cinema Treasures site recalls that there was little to love about the Lyceum in its later days:

My aunt took me there once when I was a little girl. If Bette Davis went in there she would have said what a dump. It was full of people that kinda looked hard on their luck. We were both itching terribly afterwards and when I got home I had little bumps on my neck and my mother was furious. She called and raised hell and they told her that the exterminator was coming in, and offered her a couple of free passes. She yelled at him to save his passes and take the money and spray the damn place. Never went there again.

The Bernal Heights History Project notes that this experience was not uncommon:

Some locals called the Lyceum the Lice House because they often came home itching!

And of course, here’s how the site of the former Lyceum looks today:


PHOTOS: Top, via Bernal Heights History Project. Interior via San Francisco Public Library.

12 thoughts on “Ghost of Lyceum Theater Haunts Safeway Parking Lot

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  4. As a young boy, I worked at the Lyceum changing the marquee, selling candy and showing people to their seats. It was an after school job and on week ends job mostly. You see, my family lived on Cortland and sometimes my parents and I would walk to the theater to see movies that interested my father. Once when I was about five, my father brought me with him to see a movie starring Rita Hayworth. It was then that I fell in love with her. I was five, but I apparantly understood beauty and was taken in by hers. I know this because as we walked home that evening, my father told me many times later in life that I kept saying to him, ”she’s beautiful daddy” I shall always love her.

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