This installment of our Then & Now series takes us to an off campus location, the Varsity Theatre. The reinforced concrete building located at 616 2nd Street in Davis first opened on June 9, 1950 as the Varsity Movie Theater. It is one of two examples of Streamline Moderne architecture in the city.
The Varsity Theatre has a long history in Davis. It was originally built in 1921 at 702 2nd Street by the Luft family. The Lufts later sold the theater to the West Side Valley Theaters Company which constructed the building on the present day site. In 1992, the City of Davis leased the building which was renovated and reopened as a Performing Arts & Conference Center. During that time the theatre was the home of the Davis Musical Theatre Company. In 2004, the City purchased the property and sought proposals to increase use of the space. The Varsity Theatre officially re-opened on April 6, 2006 as an independent movie theater.