Rheem Theatre Landing page

Latest News on the New Rheem Theatre:

The Town of Moraga signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the current owner of the Rheem Theatre and here is a short summery provided by the town:

Rheem Theatre Memorandum of Understanding

The Town Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Mahesh Puri, the owner of the Rheem Theatre building. The goals of the MOU include establishing a path for the preservation of the historic Rheem Theatre in recognition of its significance to the community. The MOU includes the re-leasing of the theatre at a lower cost, submission of an application for development of 48 residential units adjacent to the theatre and an expedited review of the project by the Town. The Town is not required to approve the project. However, if the project is approved by the Town, Mr. Puri has agreed to sell the Rheem Theatre to the Moraga Community Foundation for not more than $150,000 in a private transaction.

MCF is working on an agreement with the current owner and is also talking to potential operators to re-open the Rheem Theatre.

MCF is committed to the preservation of the Rheem Theatre as a community asset.

History of the Rheem Theatre:

Architects Cantin & Cantin designed the Rheem Theatre, and it opened in June, 1957. Photos of it were published in the October 19, 1957, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was a 1000-seat house with a large stadium section. The auditorium walls featured extensive murals, and the house had what was then the largest installation of rocking chairs in the United States, being the only theater west of the Rockies that was entirely seated with them.

The Rheem was also unusually spacious for its time, with row spacing of 42 to 44 inches, and the seats had extra-wide arm rests. As Gary Parks commented above, despite its late construction date the Rheem had the style of the luxurious Art Moderne theaters of the 1940s; but it also had the spaciousness which has only become standard in recent years, so it was both a throwback and well ahead of its time. The owner of the theater, Donald Rheem, could clearly afford the best of everything, and Cantin & Cantin certainly provided it.

The Moraga Community Foundation is supporting community efforts towards protecting this historic property. In August 2015, the Moraga Community Foundation Board of Directors appointed an ad hoc theater task force to work with others in the community on a plan to preserve the theater’s role in our community.