The name of the Lensic, Santa Fe’s performing art center, is all about family. Each letter in the name is for the six children of E. John Greer, one of the founders of the center. L is for Lila, E for Ejohn, N of Nathan, I for Marie Irene, S for Sara and C for Charles. The children grew up loving the fact that they had a movie theater named for them. Through the mid 1990s the Lensic operated as a cinema. The movie house transformed at the start of the millennium.
San Francisco’s Anchor Tenant
Lensic Theater was built by Nathan Salmon and E. John Greer. During much of the 20th century it was a movie theater. In 2000 it underwent a major renovation and in 2001 reopened as a non-profit performing arts center. The organization works to foster performance, educational and community programs. It provides world class entertainment, subsidizes local arts and provides free programs to school children. Pictured above is the Lensic Theater in 1934.
Gone But Not Forgotten
The other cinema on San Francisco Street through the 1970s was the El Paseo Theater. Several other businesses that are but a memory for old timers in Santa Fe include the clothing stores Bell’s and Goodmans. The Canton a Chinese restaurant and two pharmacies Zook’s and Capitol Pharmacy. The major retailers Woolworth’s and J.C Penney also served generations of families. Through the 1970s San Francisco Street and the plaza provided most of the city’s retail operations.
St. Francis of Assisi
San Francisco Street is named for St. Francis of Assisi. One of the most venerated saints in history, St. Francis was born in 1181. His feast day is celebrated on October 4th and is known as the patron saint of animals. St. Francis founded the Franciscan order in 1209. Franciscans were the principal missionaries of Spain’s vast colonial empire. Since 1539 there has been an almost continuous presence of Franciscan friars in New Mexico. The expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado 1540- 42 included several Franciscan friars. Three of these Franciscans, Fray Juan de Padilla, Fray Juan de la Cruz and Fray Luis de Escalona, chose to remain in the area when Coronado returned to Mexico in 1542.