Though there has been a Varsity Theatre in Davis since 1921, but the current Varsity dates back to 1950. It was designed by William B. David, who designed several theaters in California. It functioned as a movie theater for most of the twentieth century, until the 1990s, when it was purchased by the city of Davis for use as a community theater. More recently, the Varsity has reopened as an art house cinema.
Backstory and Context
From its opening in 1950 to 1975, the theater operated with a single screen.From 1975 to 1990, movies were shown on twin screens, a decision that was made in response to declining numbers in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1992, the Varsity stopped showing films and from that time to 2006, it served as a community theater. The Varsity was purchased by the city of Davis and functioned primarily as a venue for live performances with occasional movies. In 2006, the Varsity underwent another transformation, this time to an art house cinema.