64 South 2nd Street
Designed by William Binder, this is the earliest surviving example
of his work.
As a result of hard work on the part of PAC (Preservation Action
Council), the theater appears to have escaped the wrecking ball.
The following blurb is found on a site called Historic Buildings
of Santa Clara County that may or may not be sponsered by the
Redevelopment Agency--it is nebulous.
"The Jose, built in 1904, is
the oldest theater in San Jose, located on Second Street near
San Fernando Street. Construction of the Jose was started in
1903 under the ownership of David Jacks, a Monterey landowner
who was the namesake of Monterrey Jack cheese. At that time,
the theater was a popular showcase for stock companies and vaudeville
acts. Its history includes an appearance by magician Harry Houdini
and a stint as a vaudeville house. Within a 10-year period the
theatre ownership changed from Jacks to Chicago speculator William
"In the 1920's, James Battey bought the Jose as an addition
to his local chain of theaters. Under Battey's tenure, the entertainment
was changed to include silent motion pictures with the customary
live musical accompaniment. In the 1930's the Jose began its
history of showing second-run films. In 1933 Battey invested
$35, 000 for remodeling. In 1949, James B. Lima's General Theatrical
Company purchased the Jose."
"Subsequently, ownership of
the Jose was assumed by Barry Swenson and Jim Fox, who closed
the theater after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Swenson and Fox
said it was not economically feasible to perform the retrofit
to keep the theater open. The Jose Theater was declared a historical
landmark on April 16, 1990. After more than a year of negotiations,
the San Jose City Council agreed to pay for resurrection of the
Jose Theater at a cost of $5.1 million. It will be leased for
10 years to the Improv comedy club, opening in 2002. The theater,
which seats nearly 500 people, will be the largest of Improv's
Paul Bernal, Official Historian of San Jose, offers the
following extraordinary comments regarding the odd connection
between The Jose theater and Monterey Jack Cheese:
"Monterey Jack cheese was named
for entrepreneur and financier David Jacks of Monterey. This
is the same David Jacks who commissioned the construction of
the Jose Theatre vaudeville house in 1904, which still stands
at 64 South Second Street in San Jose. In 2002, it was reopened
following a multimillion dollar restoration, renovation, and
"David Jacks had an eye for developing someone else's product
into a huge business. In the 1880s, Juana Cota de Boronda needed
to support her family. Her husband became crippled and she had
15 children. At her Rancho de Los Laureles in Carmel Valley,
Monterey, she prepared high moisture cheese by using a method
brought from Spain to Mexico and then California by the Franciscan
padres. The cheese was known as Queso de Pais. She sold it in
local markets. It became a much wanted item, but Senora Boronda
could not mass produce it given the limited number of milk-producing
cows on her Rancho."
"David Jacks took the idea, and created a conglomerate of
about 15 dairies to compete with Boronda. He called his product
Jacks Cheese. Some consumers looking for Boronda's cheese would
ask for the "jack" cheese (cheese made with a press
or jack). Some would ask for Monterey Cheese. Capitalizing on
the confusion of terms and producers, David Jacks cleverly renamed
his brand "Monterey Jack Cheese" so all buyers would
gravitate toward his cheese. Of course, Boronda was wiped out
and Jacks became wealthy, enabling him to build the Jose Theatre,
among other enterprises.
Tenga una comida buena !"
Official San Jose City Historian, Superior Court Judge
and former P.W. grocery clerk.
Photo liberated from the Preservation
site. Go there for more photos.
NRD-CS National Register District - Contributing
The Jose is currently designated a Contributing Structure to
the National Register Historic Commercial District.
NR National Register
It is individually eligible for the National Register and also
for the California Register.
National Register indicates a structure, site, or district
listed on the National Register of Historic Places administered
by the Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
The Jose Theatre is a designated City of San Jose Historic