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About the Cameo

Shawn and Cathy and dogs

Welcome to the Cameo Cinema

2013 Celebrate St. Helena City of the Year - Cathy Buck Hi, I'm Cathy Buck...the Cameo Cinema proprietor. I was born Catherine Huggett oldest of 9 in Battle Creek, Michigan some ???? years ago. I have 3 grown...extraordinary children! My oldest Jason is currently residing in St. Helena....Jessica and Jeremy are twins, Jess lives in New York with her fiance Chad (a spring Jamaican wedding to follow) and her twin Jeremy resides in Charleston, S.C.....all great places to visit. I moved to "shangri-la" (Napa Valley) 5 years ago and am still pinching myself. I came from a 20-plus year career in real estate and decided to see where this California road would take me. Of course, living in wine country, what else do you do but go to work for a winery. I landed on the top of Spring Mountain at Newton Winery, but dreams of being a "movie star" were always calling. Two years ago I was fortunate when a friend shared about the little Cameo being for sale and we decided to go for it.... It's now a solo venture, one filled with lots of stories, and it's with great pleasure that I say....dreams really do come true! SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES!

Cathy M. Buck

History of Our Movie Theatre
By Mariam Hansen

The first moving pictures in St. Helena were shown at the G & G (Goodman & Galewsky) Theater. It was housed in the German Club’s Turnverein Hall, which was once located in what is now Lyman Park.

By 1913 it was time to replace this venue with a new, technologically advanced, purpose built theatre. This was undertaken by developer and businessman F.T. Mooney on a site north of the St. Helena Star building. He built a new business block, which included two storefronts and the theatre.

The building is of re-enforced concrete, one story tall. It has a frontage on Main Street of 78 feet. The theater section is 120 feet deep, while the other sections are 75 feet deep.

The theater measures 40 X 97 feet and had seating for 400, including 150 opera chairs (loges). (Today the theater has 140 seats) There was a modern date stage with two changes of scenery. In the rear were two dressing rooms with rear exits. The front drop curtain was a work of art: a painting of “The Old Mill” with Mt. St. Helena in the distance. The main entrance was reached through a lobby 14 X 23 feet in size. It had a tile floor and the arched ceiling was studded with electric lights.

Goodman & Galewsky leased on the theater and promised it would be open every evening. On opening night, May 15, 1913, a double bill featured “Kings of the Forest” by Selig Company. Eight reels were shown in all. This being the silent film era, Mr. Gilmore of Napa “played the picture” at the piano. All seats were filled that night and 100 more were standing, for a total of 500 people attending.

On each side of the theater entrance is a store front 14 X 75 feet in size. One was occupied by Wells, Fargo & Co and the other by Western Union Telegraph Co. Harry J. Chinn was the Wells Fargo agent. The Star Grocery, conducted by Edward Kraft, had the remaining store front, which was “very convenient and airy”, measuring 22 X 75.

The entire building was finished in pine and the ceilings of ornamental pressed steel. The walls of the theater were tinted and the whole structure “neat and modern in every respect”. The concrete work was done by Harry Thorsen (who also built the stone high school building in 1912). John H. Allison (who also was the marshal and street supervisor) was in charge of the carpentry work. “To him is due credit for carrying out Mr. Mooney’s plans in perfect detail” said the newspaper.

In 1916 the name of the theater became the Liberty; in 1939 the Roxy; in 1976 the Liberty and in 1997 the Cameo. The Mooney family descendants still own the building.

Today Cathy Buck is the theater impresario.