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On 1 November 1928, the El Campanil Theater opened its doors to the City of Antioch and the Diablo Valley. At that time, the news reports referred to it as “the most pretentious building in Contra Costa County.” Designed, owned and run by Ferdinand Stamm and Ralph Beede, El Campanil (the bell tower) is Spanish in both its name and its architecture. As with many theaters of the period, El Campanil originally provided an audience chamber of approximately 1,100 seats, as well as small stage and “back of the house” areas to promote vaudeville entertainment. To this day, legend abounds about the famous celebrities who performed there and left their autographs on the walls of the dressing room. El Campanil was also a single-screen movie theater, with the “state-of-the-art” projection capabilities of 1928.

Located in the heart of downtown Antioch, along the waterfront and in what is now known as the Rivertown Business District, El Campanil has been owned and run by the Stamm family for 75 years or until 2003.

In 2001, a small group of local residents, including members of the Rivertown Business District Association, approached the City of Antioch with a desire to find a way to acquire and restore El Campanil and to turn its use into one that sponsored the Rivertown Renaissance initiative. The Rivertown Business District Association has taken the lead in obtaining funds from Calpine for the creation of a detailed business plan for the El Campanil Theater. The business plan outlined the best strategy for moving the project forward and the VenueTech Management Company, LLC, continued to refine the plan.

In July 2002, the El Campanil Theater Preservation Foundation was incorporated as a charitable, non-profit corporation 501(c)3. Calpine Corporation and the City of Antioch entered into an agreement at the beginning of 2003 in which the Foundation obtained a grant to purchase the Theater. In July 2003, the El Campanil Theater Preservation Foundation purchased the theater and began the process of transforming the building to a community performing arts location.

The first phase of the renovation was completed on 4 July 2004 and the doors were reopened to the public. El Campanil Theater offers a wide range of entertainment opportunities, including International and Classic Films, Live Theatre, Concerts, Symphony, Opera, Comedy, and hosts a number of local dance and community-based organizations.

Volunteers are an important component of the El Campanil Theater. Special activities, rentals and in-house productions are all part of the voluntary experience. There are many ways to support the Theater with a range of activities and times! All individuals aged 16 and older are welcome to engage in our volunteer program.

Volunteers are expected to complete a Volunteer Application and will be contacted to participate in one training session. Training sessions will be held during the year and one attendance is required before participation can begin.

This amazing landmark in Antioch, California is located near some other must-see places of interest:

  • Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
  • Roswell Butler Hard House
  • Shannon-Williamson Ranch
  • Arts and Cultural Foundation of Antioch
  • Antioch Historical Society Museum
  • Lynn House Gallery
  • Rivertown Art Center
  • Contra Costa County Fairgrounds

All of these wonderful landmarks are located just a short distance from our location at 1091 Shary Circle in Concord, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!

By Geraoma - Own work, Public Domain,