Sebastiani Theatre History
The Theatre was built by Samuele Sebastiani in 1933 as a movie house and was designed by well-known theater architect James W. Reid. Its first movie, screened on April 7, 1934, was "Fugitive Lovers" starring Robert Montgomery. Admission price was 30¢.
In 1986, the Theatre was sold to an Oakland-based investor. The Sonoma City Council leases the Theatre from the investor and splits the cost with the Theatre management. Roger and Diana Rhoten have leased the Sebastiani since 1991, contributing much of their own time and money to upgrading the facility and building a center for young people and families that lies not only in the center of town , but in the center of the hearts of the community at large.
In 2008 the nonprofit Sebastiani Theatre Foundation was formed to raise money to contribute to the Theatre's operating expenses and improvements to the facility. As a result the Theatre now has a state-of-the-art digital projector and sound system.
This year the for-profit Theatre and the nonprofit Foundation will merge and the Sebastiani Theatre will become a 501(c)3 charitable institution.
For a complete history of the Sebastiani Theatre, please read the two-part Sonoma Index Tribune article below written by historian Gerald Hill.
Thank you to Sonoma Index Tribune Publisher Bill Lynch for allowing the Sebastiani Theatre Foundation to republish these.