Designed by San Francisco-based architect J. Lloyd Conrich, the Cascade Theatre is the best example of Art Deco architecture in Redding. The historic theater was built in 1935 and remains an important landmark for the city. The front facade of the building features a large marquee and vertical neon sign, as well as a relief frieze across the top that depicts figures working in various California industries. Cascade Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
Backstory and Context
Cascade Theatre was built by Lebanese immigrant Michael Naify (1886-1975) and his brother, James (it is unclear when he was born and died). They immigrated to the United States from Lebanon in the early 1900s and started a linen importing business in Atlantic City, New Jersey. During the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (world's fair) in San Francisco in 1915, Michael and James set up a booth for business, which happened to be located across the from a nickelodeon (the first kind of indoor movie theaters that cost a nickel to enter). After seeing how many people were going into the nickelodeon, the brothers decided to switch businesses. Within a few years, they owned and operated a small chain of theaters and eventually bought a company called T. & D. Jr., Enterprises. They retained the name and grew it to one of the largest theater companies on the Pacific Coast.
The brothers built the Cascade Theatre in 1935 and it was the largest one built in the city up to that point. That same year, T & D., Jr. and two other theater companies merged to form the United California Theaters. The company still exists today and has been called United Artist Theatres, Inc. (not to be confused with the film company) since 2001. Michael's two sons, Robert and Marshall (d. 2000), helped run the business for several decades. They also became one of the largest cable tv operators in the country. Marshall died in 2001 and Robert, who also took a strong interest in horse racing, passed away in 2016.
"History of the Cascade Theatre." Cascade Theatre. Accessed September 27, 2010. https://cascadetheatre.org.
Kramer M.S., George. "Cascade Theatre." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NRHP/01001459_text.
Scripps Howard News Service. "Financiers Bow Out of Movie Theater Chain." Nashua Telegraph, July 15, 1986, p. 10. Retrieved September 28, 2019. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=opwrAAAAIBAJ&sjid=D_wFAAAAIBAJ&pg=5035,4135058&dq=robert+naify&hl=en.
Zinko, Carolyne. "Robert Naify, investor whose family built theater empire, dies." San Francisco Chronicle. April 9, 2016. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Robert-Naify-investor-whose-family-built-theater-7238160.php.