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Published on April 17, 2024
Castro Theatre Sells Its Iconic Red Orchestra Seats Amid San Francisco ControversySource: X / @Castro_Theatre

San Francisco's historic Castro Theatre will soon be selling its iconic red orchestra seats to the public. These seats, which have seated countless patrons for over a century, now carry a price tag of $349 for one or $499 for a pair, as announced on the official sales page for the theatre. For those interested, the legacy cinema chairs come mounted on a wooden board for stability.

Reported first by SFGate, the theater, which dates back to the roaring 1920s, has been controversial, with the company that took over operations, Another Planet Entertainment, at the center of a heated community debate. Planning to turn the theater floor into a flexible space intended for live performances, they approved the removal of the 800 historic fixed seats for "flexible" platforms despite opposition claiming it would destroy the theatre's character.

The seats can be picked up at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium from May 20-24, following a specified schedule on the theatre's sales site. Buyers are reminded to check that their vehicle can accommodate the hefty dimensions of the cast-off cinema treasures. Conversely, a delivery option is on the table for those within 60 miles of the Castro, with a promise of fulfillment within 45 days of purchase.

Nevertheless, the sale has met with skepticism, and not without a whisper of disdain, from the local online community. Comments on Instagram call the sale various unsavory things, with one user, who claimed they worked at the theatre, saying, "It's been like watching vultures perform an autopsy on a loved one" and then "seeing them sell the parts." Meanwhile, a Reddit user conveyed confusion and dismay, "They can't be serious," one said. "I think they'll struggle to even get rid of these seats for free." Reactions from the web highlight the deep sentimental value and the controversial nature of the theater's renovations.

Funds raised from the theater seat sale are directed towards the theater’s nonprofit partners, Oasis Arts and the Castro Organ Devotees Association, as stated by the Castro Theatre's sales page