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San Jose Signs Index 

Garden Theater
1165 Lincoln Ave.
Marquee, Blade Sign

San Jose’s Garden Theatre opened on June 22, 1949. From the tile and etched-glass box office to the chandeliers in the auditorium, the neighborhood theater exuded an air of opulence. Owners Ben Levin and Jimmy Lima seemed to spare no expense. Not surprisingly, the Garden Theatre’s signage was a real show-stopper— with the business name framed by a giant neon flower, its animated leaves flashing in the night sky. Sadly, the Garden Theatre—which had remained virtually unchanged for nearly 40 years — closed in 1988. The following year, the building was adapted for retail use. The happy ending to this story is that developer Michael Mulcahy and SDS NexGen Partners opted to retain and restore the beautiful theater signage—exemplifying that the initiatives of redevelopment and historic preservation need not be mutually exclusive. (Original sign company unknown, rehabilitation by Arrow Sign Co.)
--Heather David

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