The classical Grand Theatre, designed by architect Albert W. Cornelius, opened on August 11, 1923 as a premiere vaudeville half-house in the area. Conceived and built by German-born entrepreneur John C. Droge, the theatre was converted to show “talkies” by the late 1920’s.
The facility received a major remodel during its heyday between 1939 and 1941 (under the Allen’s ownership), garnered with bold new art deco features including a sculptural marquee designed by Alexander Cantin and futuristic mural by Anthony (Antoon) Heinsbergen. Between the mid-40’s and 1977, it functioned as an eclectic movie house with occasional live performances. As of today, three generations of our community have enjoyed and experienced entertainment and fine art at the facility. Droge’s imprints are still felt across the block at Central Avenue and 7th St. as the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts. He operated a corner store in what is now the South Gallery, built the (then named) Shamrock (1906) and American (1909) Hotels now housing the GWF Energy Gallery and Arts Education Studios, principally invested in the Bank of Tracy where the Souza Family Gallery and Loggia resides, and his crown jewel of Tracy – the Grand Theatre, has been historically renovated to once again offer live performances of all kinds as well as multi-media presentations and cinema.
The Grand is an amazing facility due its thoughtful development as a professional arts organization and educative center within City government, as well as an important public resource as an economic redevelopment project in downtown Tracy. Hundreds of community leaders, arts patrons, educators and parents contributed to the planning process that ultimately designed the amenities and programming of the Center.