1931: The theater is constructed over a nine-month period at a cost of $380,000. The theater is believed to be the last project designed by San Francisco-based architects James and Merritt Reid, who also designed the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland, the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, and San Francisco's Balboa Theatre, Fairmont Hotel and Cliff House.
Oct. 31, 1931: The Merced Theatre opens with the world premiere of the film "Local Boy Makes Good," starring actor Joe E. Brown. With 1,645 seats, the theater was the first air-conditioned building in Merced County. Inside the theater, visitors were surrounded by a depiction of a Spanish castle courtyard, with blue skies and a cloud machine. For five decades, the theater serves as host to countless films, concerts, graduation ceremonies, dance performances and weddings.
1978: The theater is purchased by United Artists, which gutted the interior and turned it into a four-plex cinema.
1998: A group of local residents form the Merced Theatre Foundation, beginning the effort to restore the building.
2002: The City of Merced's redevelopment agency purchases the Merced Theatre Building for $780,000. The theater remains in operation for several years.
2006: The Merced Theatre Foundation spends $350,000 to refurbish the building’s 100-foot tower and the neon “MERCED” letters that mark the city's downtown skyline. The city renovates six retail spaces and 10 apartments attached to the theater.
Sept. 2008: The Merced Theatre Foundation received its largest contribution: $1 million from retired orthopedic surgeon Art Kamangar. Kamangar was born in Iran and moved to the United States in 1963. The theater portion of the building is named in his honor.
June 12, 2009: The Merced Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dec. 2010: Restoration of the theater’s interior begins with Selma based contractor Lewis C. Nelson and Sons.
April 21, 2012: The Merced Theatre reopens.