James Broadway Theater owned by Edwin F. James had its grand opening on December 23, 1916(1). It was located on Broadway and Stark street(2). The theater was once the largest on the Pacific Coast, and it could accommodate 2500 people, following city ordinance(2). Even though the city ordinance specified 32 inches from seats back to back, the Broadway Theater had 36 inches clearance for each seat(2). The first play were Lois Weber’s “Idle Wives”(1) and “Bought and Paid For, a picturization of the famous Broadhurst drama(2). There were also special concerts and musicals by Broadway Symphony Orchestra of Fifteen Pieces(2). The theater featured a tea room with an oriental atmosphere, and had tea served by Chinese girls. The promotional strategy of Broadway Theater was through newspaper advertisements.
The theater put safety first, so it was a fireproof structure, with steel frame and reinforced concrete. Fifteen spacious exits were designed to ensure patrons’ safety, the advanced sprinkler system was installed throughout the building, and asbestos curtain could be lower to separate spaces in case of fire. The projection room was the most fireproofed in the city with the latest technology for anti-fire devices on picture machines(2).