Cascade Theatre in Redding
A former dedicated manager can’t let go; not trusting the living.
Owned by Southern Oregon University, and operated by the JPR Foundation, The Cascade Theatre is described as a fabulous Art Deco rectangular structure that is “a multi-use performing arts theatre” that also has a screen for movie days for kids, and hosts film tours for adults.
The theatre has 997 seats plus 10 more set aside for people in wheel chairs, with a stage large enough for live performances with all the equipment and tech needed to do so. During the renovation effort, “state-of-the-art sound, lighting, film and theater technology were all installed, making it capable of supporting a wide variety of dramatic, musical and film presentations.”
Looking at all the fabulous Art Deco decor inside and outside, and the one-of-a-kind bas-relief murals etched out of concrete atop the building, depicting various California industry fields like mining, the visitor should be aware of all the intense effort and talent that went into intricately recreating the old grandeur that was originally found in the 1935 Cascade Theatre. Visitors should also appreciate all the updating that went into the lights and technical items needed for a truly modern theatre that can be a showcase for a variety of performing arts and films.
No short-cuts were taken in facing the monumental task of restoring The Cascade Theatre. The restoration experts more than followed the requirements set down by the California Register of Historic Sources.
Ronald Kramer of Jefferson Public Radio (JPR), who was involved in the restoration effort, explained: ”We found the company that manufactured the wonderful chandeliers. We located sources of supply for the building’s many ceramic tile surfaces and, where we couldn’t locate exact replacements, we had them custom-created.”
“The original cast-iron, highly colored art deco seat standards have been recreated. The geometrically patterned carpet has been replicated and custom manufactured. Railings identical to the theatre’s originals were fabricated.”
“The magnificent ceiling murals, painted over in 1977, were lovingly restored by one of the nation’s premiere decorative painting companies. I knew when I first toured the Cascade that the ceiling was going to be something special but no one could have imagined the grandeur which Evergreene Painting Studio, of New York City, uncovered and recreated.”
“They also re-gilded the bas-relief murals, depicting northern California occupations, which adorn the top of the concrete exterior facade. The reliefs hadn’t been gilded since the early 1950s. Redding’s McHale Signs undertook the restoration of the blazing neon marquee, including the racing neon at the top of the vertical Cascade sign and neon tubing rising up the building’s facade, which hadn’t been fully lighted in this way in over 50 years.”
The Cascade Theatre is now considered the economic anchor for downtown Redding and has inspired growth and development in small businesses. “It breathes new life into Redding’s downtown and brings people of all ages together to be entertained and inspired.”
When Tom and I visited The Cascade Theatre, Redding had a busy downtown area with a variety of businesses and services, as an economically successful city should have. People were shopping and patronizing businesses and restaurants downtown, thanks to the restoration and renewal efforts.
“We promise: Our programs will be the finest – clean and wholesome – chosen for the entertainment of the entire family – worthy of your good will and loyal support.”
-T & D Enterprises pledge, 1935
The Cascade Theatre was designed by San Francisco Architect J Lloyd Conrich in a flashy and impressive Art Deco style. The structure was built in 1934 for T & D Enterprises, a movie theater chain located in San Francisco. It opened with great flair and celebration on August 9th, 1935, and was promoted as a truly modern, state-of-the-art movie theater with dazzling beauty, a true cinema palace that seated up to 1,348 patrons.
It received glowing reviews. One reviewer gave this description: “An interior rich in beauty and fitted with all the latest discoveries of science designed to offer the most comfort and the greatest pleasure to theater goers.”
Two immigrant Lebanese Christian families, the Kassis Family and the Naify family, who were related by marriage, had vital roles in the creation and running of the theater. Mike Kassis became the general manager of The Cascade, and Mike Naify was President and General Manager of T & D Enterprises.
Not only did Mike Kassis work at The Cascade, but so did members of his family. As long as they were in charge, the theater looked its best, much to the enjoyment of their patrons.
At some point, T & D Enterprises must have sold their theater to a new owner. As the years went by, the downtown area lost its drawing power and became depressed economically, as people started to shop where they lived outside the city. This of course affected the ability for The Cascade Theatre to be economically successful, as it had to compete with brand-new movie theater multiplexes that offered several choices of films to see.
It didn’t help either that the structure of The Cascade had begun to look a bit dowdy and its Art Deco decor needed some restoration, which would cost a boatload of money that the theatre owners didn’t have. The Theatre was on a downhill slide, and something had to be done to keep it a viable business. A new business plan was needed.
The owners decided to revamp it. In 1977, The Cascade Theatre was given a face lift to modernize the inside, and it was partitioned into two theatre auditoriums, like many big theaters in the 1970s that became multiplex venues.
This 1977 renovation was devastating to the much loved Art Deco style of The Cascade. The gorgeous ceiling murals were painted over, and the majestic chandeliers were taken down. Other Art Deco embellishments also disappeared. After all this, the improvements didn’t stop the economic decline, and the deed to the property eventually wound up in someone else’s hands.
The Cascade’s doors were shuttered, leaving an empty building devoid of its old Art Deco charms, and little of the old flashy Marquee remained. It was a sad shell of its former self, once so beautiful and loved.
But apparently, as it turned out, the public’s love for this theatre never went away; it just needed to be rekindled. In the late 1990s’, Jefferson Public Radio, armed with an ambitious business plan for The Cascade Theatre got the rejuvenation project rolling, and was surprised at the public’s overwhelming support.
This huge support came not just from the community, but from the state of California, Southern Oregon University and town officials.
Everyone enthusiastically embraced the idea of restoring their beloved Cascade Theatre to be both a live performance venue and film theatre that would make it an anchor for the revival of downtown Redding and once again provide a dynamite Art deco, multi-use performing arts center. Part of the update of the building included making it a desirable venue for live performances, opening up new opportunities to bring in more income, and expanding the purpose of the Theater from being simply a movie house to a full-service performing arts center.
Ron Kramer of JPR explains the significance of this enthusiasm in an article on The Cascade Theatre’s website. “Like JPR itself, bringing The Cascade Theatre back to life has been a broad-based, community-driven steamroller of commitment toward achieving a shared vision. The really important story about the Cascade’s restoration is the shared sense of community pride, purpose and accomplishment which this project symbolizes.” $5.4 million dollars was raised to fully restore and update The Cascade Theatre.
The year, 1999, proved to be an important milestone for the restoration and protection of the building. Southern Oregon University bought The Cascade Theatre because JPR asked them to do so. They in turn leased it to JPR, who assumed responsibility for the mortgage. To cap it all off, on November 5th, The Cascade Theater was accepted onto the list of California’s Register of Historic Resources; getting legal protection.
On March 18th of 2000, these intense restoration activities and progress were noticed by The Art Deco Society of California Preservation, who honored JPR and Southern Oregon University with their Art Deco Society of California Preservation award.
On January 17th of 2002, The Cascade Theatre got the ultimate protection when it was added to The National Register of Historic Places.
After five years of restoration and modernization, The Cascade Theatre opened once again, on August 4th, 2004, to the excitement and support of the Redding Community, local cultural organizations, performers and other supporting forces outside of Redding.
Perhaps, all this rejuvenation has also acted as an environmental trigger, drawing a spirit or two to visit.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Though not many clues have been given as to who could possibly be enjoying the theatre in their afterlife, perhaps it would be the spirits of people who were truly dedicated to the theatre; Perhaps a spectral member of the Kassis family, Mike Kassis or others, who may be thrilled to see The Cascade Theater restored. Or, perhaps it could be Mike Naify, or some dedicated projectionist. Or it could be another former owner or manager or employee of The Cascade. Or it could also be a past patron. It is hard to tell at this point.
People who loved working and being involved in a theater sometimes love to visit while in spirit-form, especially if the theatre has been restored and renovated to become a great institution again.
Probably a past owner or manager, or an employee or patron.
Dressed in a past era black suit, this gentleman has been seen smoking a cigar, both inside and outside of The Cascade.
He seemed impatient as he walked outside the theatre.
Perhaps/Perhaps not. Not many personal experiences with this male spirit or spirits have been reported. Staff and patrons have not publicly revealed any experiences, with a few exceptions. Someone must have seen one or more apparitions at the theatre, because what is known became public knowledge on several websites.
I couldn’t find any hard paranormal evidence which has been made known.
I found one eyewitness account of a male apparition outside The Cascade Theatre. The witness was waiting at the corner for the bus, and he happened to see this solid-looking gentleman wearing a black suit, pacing outside The Cascade Theatre. Much to his surprise, the witness saw him disappear and reappear again.
Staff have not been forthcoming about their experiences, if any. Something must have leaked out, for this entity has been reported on several paranormal sources.
No hard evidence on camera or EVPs has been posted to YouTube, or displayed on paranormal websites. No psychic investigations by mediums have been made public either.
Someday, the truth always emerges one way or another. More personal experiences or even hard evidence may become available to point to the definite existence of a spirit or spirits.
The Cascade Theater
1731 Market Street
Redding, CA 96001
The Cascade Theatre is located in the heart of historical downtown Redding.
- cascadetheatre.org/page.asp?navid=1023, “A Theatre that wouldn’t die”, by Ron Kramer
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr