The New Bell Theatre

3259 Mission St.  | map |


Opened: Perhaps late 1911 as the New Bell Theatre. A 1912 trade magazine item appearing with this photo noted that it opened "about the first of last November." It was on the east side of the street between Fair Ave. and 29th St. and was owned and operated by a Mr. P. Young.

Jack Tillmany notes: "The reason it was called the New Bell was because there had been an earlier Bell across the street at 3266 Mission in 1910 which this one apparently replaced." The Bell at 3266 Mission got its last city directory listing in the 1911 edition. Thanks to Charmaine Zoe on Flickr for the trade magazine photo. She didn't post the article it came with but Jack says that's just as well -- the address given was wrong anyway.

The New Bell is in the 1912 through 1916 city directories, always with the 3259 Mission address.

Seating: 400

Closing: Evidently around 1916.

Jack comments: "In later years it became the American Trust Company. Their address (by that time) was 3299; it faces 29th Street, so most likely some renumbering was done to match up the numbers with the numbered intersections, or something. The last time I looked, this easily identifiable building still stood, and was operating as a Peruvian Restaurant."



A 1939 photo showing the redone building as the American Trust Co. Thanks to Jack Tillmany for the photo.

Other Bells: Just to keep it interesting, in addition to the Bell Theatre at 3366 Mission there was also a Bell Theatre at 540 Columbus Ave., a venue also known as the Bijou, that ran from about 1908 until 1915. There was once a Bell Nickeldrome at 1913 Fillmore. And the Excelsior opened in 1911 at 4734 Mission and later was known as the Bell Theatre

Cinema Treasures has a New Bell page but they give it a wrong address of 298 Mission St. That address was derived from the trade magazine article that carried the 1912 photo. 

Also see the listing for the New Bell's next door neighbor the Electric Theatre at 3261 Mission St. It was also listed as the New Theatre for several years. There were listings for theatres at both the 3259 and 3261 addresses in the 1912, 1913 and 1914 city directories. 3261 was listed as either the New or the Electric, 3259 in all three directories as the New Bell. 

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