SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER HISTORY
The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center has been a recognizable landmark in downtown San Rafael since the early 20th century.
1920 – The Orpheus theater opens, priding itself on “showing pictures of merit and musical selections.”
1937 – Fire in the theater. Orpheus closes for renovations.
1938 – The Rafael Theatre opens on the site of the former Orpheus, with new design, Henry Martins murals and the Blumenfeld circuit’s pledge that the Rafael “will be operated as a popular priced house, showing second-run pictures in an atmosphere of luxurious comfort…”
1989 – Loma Prieta Earthquake! Theater closes.
1993 – San Rafael Redevelopment Agency and Film Institute of Northern California (now the California Film Institute) join forces to revive theater.
1995 – San Rafael Planning commission votes unanimously to approve the Rafael Film Center Project.
1996 – Film Institute announces capital campaign.
1997 – Construction on Rafael begins under the direction of nationally renowned architect Mark Cavagnero.
1999 – Rafael Film Center Opens to the public April 16.
2003 – April, name changed to Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center.