Art Theatre back in business in Long Beach neighborhood

posted by philbertgray on July 21, 2008 at 12:17 pm

LONG BEACH DA – The Arts Theatre opened in 1925 as a neighborhood venue. Originally called the Carlton the 636 seat theatre boasted both an orchestra pit and pipe organ. The auditorium was described as “orientalized” with touches reminiscent of Grauman’s Chinese.

Damage from an earthquake in 1933 resulted in both a redesign in the then popular Art Deco style and a name change to The Lee. In 1947 a third remodel gave the interior and exterior a more streamlined look. The theatre was renamed The Art and continued in operation until March of 2008 when 80 year old owner Howard Linn laughingly said he “didn’t want to die in the theatre” and sold it to V Squared, a Long Beach consortium of two husband and wife teams, Mark and Helen Vidor and Jan and Sybil van Dijs who have already established a track record of renovating historic Long Beach buildings.

V Squared is investing $1 million dollars for a fourth incarnation of this venerable survivor. The exterior will be returned to its 1930’s Art Deco look. The auditorium, which has been completely gutted, will boast a reconstructed stage, a proscenium arch and new curtains. The Art is scheduled to reopen August 2008.

The web site for The Art Theatre can be found at A visualization of the new exterior can be seen at the web site.

A recent article on The Art Theatre’s new lease on life can be found at at

Reviews of the theatre by several patrons can be found at at Comments ranged from “this place is special in my heart” and “I love you, I love your charm” to “I appreciate the theater’s history, but let’s be honest, it’s a lousy place to watch a film. It’s musty, the seats are torn and older than Moses, and finding parking can be a struggle.”

The Art is the last operating neighborhood theatre in Long Beach and one of the few still surviving in the Los Angeles area.

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