Warnors Theatre, a National Historic American theatre built by Alexander Pantages—one of the most prominent managers of vaudeville entertainment and a renowned theater magnate; opened its doors in 1928. Warnors was originally built to house vaudeville acts, and there’s even a room backstage designed to accommodate live animals. In 1929 this Pantages Theater was purchased by Warner Brothers, and its name changed to “Warner’s Theatre.” Fresno thus became the second West Coast city to have a Warner Brother’s motion picture theater. The theater was used primarily for silent movies until “talkies” came out in the 1930’s.
It is said that as a 13 year old boy, Frank Caglia, bought the first movie ticket ever sold at the Warnors. As an adult, Mr. Caglia bought this theatre in 1973 from the City of Fresno, at which time it was doomed to be torn down—like so many other of Fresno’s Historic buildings. The building itself did not impress Caglia so much as the pipe organ. The Robert Morton Organ Company was a producer of theater pipe organs and church organs located in Van Nuys, California. Known for their huge sound and high quality, the company’s hay-day was in the late 1920s, the era of the lavish movie palace theaters exhibiting silent films. The Great Depression and advent of films with sound eliminated the demand for theater organs and the company closed in 1931. Today, there are only 21 of these beautiful organs in use at theaters across the country. Our organ is quite rare, in that it was created for this theatre, has never left this theatre, and is still fully functional.
Many long time Fresno residents may remember coming to see Cinerama films in the theatre in the 60’s, or attending large concerts during the time that Frank Caglia owned the facility. Mr. Frank Caglia purchased the theater and renamed it Warnors (for copyright purposes) in 1973. He claims he bought the organ, and the building just happened to surround it. Since that time, the Caglia’s have sought to preserve this theatre in its original state. With Frank’s passing in 2006, they donated the facility and established a non-profit to look after it, to ensure the historical complex would be protected and enjoyed for generations to come.
Today, Warnors is a 501C3 non-profit, or Community Benefit Organization (CBO), and relies mainly on our many volunteers and the private donations of folks like you; to preserve this historical Fresno landmark. We also rely on the funds generated from our events in the Theatre, and our other venues… such as Frank’s Place.
A new generation of community members, students, volunteers, patrons, and donors have fallen in love with this Historic Icon. We hope you will enjoy your time here, and that it has left an impression on you as well. Please follow us on social media, and subscribe to our newsletter, to stay in touch with us!