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Arlington Theatre

Arlington Theatre

The Arlington Theater is the largest movie theater and principal performing arts venue in Santa Barbara, California, USA. In addition to regular screenings and artists, it is home to many events associated with the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Located at 1317 State Street, the Arlington was built in 1931 on the former site of the Arlington Hotel, which was destroyed following the 1925 earthquake. The current structure was erected in 1930 as a showcase movie house for Fox West Coast Theaters. It was restored and expanded in the mid-1970s by Metropolitan Theaters Corporation. It opened in its current incarnation in 1976.

The Arlington was done in Mission Revival style in a period when Santa Barbara was being rebuilt in that style following a devastating earthquake. The exterior takes the form of an immense church oddly lacking in windows (there are a few in the upper stories) and notable mostly for a Mission Revival steeple that ends in a dramatic art deco finial. The effect is of a space ship about to launch from the steeple of an immense Spanish colonial church placed on a church into which the architect forgot to insert windows.

The red tiled building features a covered courtyard with fountain and a free-standing ticket booth.

It is the interior that is most remarkable. The ceilings of the lobbies are heavily beamed and painted. The auditorium itself seats 2,000 on the main floor and balcony. It is built to give the theatergoer the impression that he is sitting outside in the plaza of a colonial Spanish town, each wall features houses, staircases, and balconies, not painted on but built out from the walls. The proscenium, in the original theater, was formed by what appeared to be a large stone arc, through which could be seen a river and hills (these were painted on the curtain.) Today, this effect is gone, and the proscenium is topped by the equipment necessary for lighting stage shows. The original ceiling remains to give patrons the impression that they are sitting outdoors under the stars.

One of the Arlington's signature treasures is a famous Robert Morton theatre pipe organ hidden from view, that rises on a platform into view when played before a performance.

The Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra performs there regularly.

The Arlington Theatre was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by the Santa Barbara architectural firm of Edwards and Plunkett.