Whittier Theatre

11612 Whittier Boulevard,
Whittier, CA 90601

Unfavorite 6 people favorited this theater

Showing 26 - 50 of 52 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 30, 2005 at 7:44 pm

The Wardman is listed here as Whittier Village Cinemas. It’s still open, and has been multiplexed.

kencmcintyre on November 30, 2005 at 7:18 pm

Here is another theater in Whittier which I don’t think is listed. The theater was originally called the Wardman, then later on became a Pussycat Theater. Its current status is unknown. The theater was in Whittier, somewhere.


stevebob on November 4, 2005 at 12:45 pm

From www.dictionary.com:

The underside of a structural component, such as a beam, arch, staircase, or cornice; the underside of a part of a building (such as an arch or overhang or beam etc.)

In our context, it’s the underside of the marquee. It seems like an often overlooked component of a theater building, but it’s interesting how soffits vary individually in their use of sometimes elaborate incandescent lights, neon, etc.

Two of the most elaborate soffits I’m aware of are those of the Warner Cinerama/Hollywood Pacific and the Pantages in Hollywood. They are gorgeous — coffered and detailed — either of wood or crafted to look like it. That of the Pantages was hidden for many years by a horrid dropped ceiling with spotlights. This was during the unfortunate remodeling that moved the ticket booth to a sidewall of the outer lobby. Comments on the page for the Pantages indicate that the original coffered soffit has been uncovered.

I would love to know what other cinema fans' favorite soffits are!

stevebob on November 3, 2005 at 4:20 am

I just remembered something else. It was common to refer to this theater locally as the “Whittier Walk-In” to distinguish it from the Whittier Drive-In /theaters/3822/, just one town away and also on Whittier Boulevard.

stevebob on November 2, 2005 at 6:13 am

I just noticed that the address given above “1410 West Whittier Boulevard” is deceiving for anyone seeking out that location today. Whittier originally had its own block-numbering system, emanating N-S-E-W from the corner of Greenleaf and Philadelphia, but renumbered every address in the 1960s to conform to the Los Angeles county-wide numbering system. So, while 1410 West Whittier Boulevard would have been the theater’s original address, the current address of the site would be a five-digit number on East Whittier Boulevard.

stevebob on November 2, 2005 at 5:54 am

Whoa!! When I first looked at those pictures, I wondered “What’s that thing in the middle of the courtyard?” (It looks like something that skateboarders would use as a prop.) Then I realized it’s the soffit of the marquee! Oh geez, how sad.

I probably went to the Whittier more than any other local theater when I was a kid. As another poster mentioned, I too was completely captivated by the ersatz Mexican village along the walls and the moving clouds on the ceiling. Of course, I had no idea what an “atmospheric” theater was back then; I actually thought that the decorative elements along the wall were real, and somehow physically connected to the outside of the theater (which of course had the same theme).

The retail stores in the plaza never seemed to be successful. I remember a drug store and a furniture store being there at various times. Perhaps that was a consequence of the rather odd location of the theater. Whittier Boulevard had been U.S. 101 before being bypassed by the Santa Ana Freeway in the 1950s, but this was a fairly non-descript stretch of road and certainly not a hub of local retail and commercial activity.

As the picture above shows, the Whittier was at one time part of a local chain called Bruen’s. They also operated the Wardman and the Roxy in Uptown Whittier, and the Sundown Drive-In. Only the Wardman survives, as the Whittier Village Cinemas multiplex.

Beach on May 16, 2005 at 7:52 pm

I stumbled on the Whittier Theater back in 1968. I went there to see a movie, not knowing anything about the place. I had a hard time watching the movie because I was infatuated with the decor — the Mexican village along the walls and the moving clouds — it was really charming. I just moved back to L.A. after 35 years and the Theater was one of the first places I wanted to re-visit. Very sad it was torn down.

viper771 on May 3, 2005 at 3:52 am

I remember the whittier quake… i was really young! The old quad was a wreck!! There were big cracks in the buildings… I dont remember the whittier theater though. Sadly I do remember going into the Whittwood mall back in its Hay day.. and it was really empty the last time I was there. I remember going to the Regal behind there a whole lot! There was also a Hudsons Grill (burger place) back there too.. dont know if it is still around. I live in Kansas now. Its too bad people like tearing town the old stuff… I am glad they saved the Fox in Fullerton. If they got rid of that to make apts, then it would of been a great loss.

thomasl on February 24, 2005 at 1:34 pm

I saw the Whittier Theater only once, shortly before it was torn down. It did resemble the Carthay Circle Theater on San Vincente, probably the finest movie palace ever built. I only wish I would have had a camera with me that day—when I returned to Whittier with a camera about a month later the magnificent Whittier Theater had been torn down. Whittier lost a true gem.

RobertR on December 29, 2004 at 8:14 am

Now that was a marquee !!

calchick on December 29, 2004 at 7:00 am

I remember seeing “E.T.” here when it came out or shortly after it came out. This theatre was also my younger brother’s first job when he was still going to Whittier High. He loved movies and was getting into filmmaking so getting to see movies here while working and getting free passes/discounts was a big thing for a teenage boy interested in movies! He even made a short film back in the mid-Eighties there(using the rooms above the theatre…in lighthouse tower perhaps? I have to ask him) with the permission of the theatre while he was still working there. He still has the film and the opening sequence is a nighttime shot of the theatre and its marquee so it’s nice to have a little bit of the Whittier Theatre preserved on film.

The story of the Whittier Theatre is sad…true, the Spaghetti Factory was interested and I also agree that it was NOT because of the quake that the building was razed. Excuses, excuses. It is too bad the building could not be saved, whether for the Spaghetti Factory or some other establishment that could have preserved this building. I had read that the theatre was originally a vaudeville theatre and people like Al Jolson had performed there. A piece of history torn down, but it was very typical of Whittier to get rid of historic buildings. Guess perhaps the attitude has changed but too late to save the Whittier Theatre or the beautiful Carnegie Library. I have seen pics of this old library and I cannot BELIEVE it was torn down to build(in another location)the ugly looking current library. Ironically, some sample designs of what the new library(which is to be built on the old Hadley Alpha Beta site)will look like reminds one a little of the old Carnegie Library!

jmarellano on December 27, 2004 at 9:59 pm

What is really sad, is the fact that they built a Walgreens down on Whittier and Greenleaf, about 1.5 miles away, there is a Sav-on across teh street, a Rite Aid at the Quad, a Rite Aid off Greenleaf less than a mile away, a new CVS on Whittier and Santa Fe Springs/Washington, and a new Sav-on being built at the Whittwood to replace the store in the mall that is going to be torn down.

Did we really need this Walgreens?

DavidDickerson on December 27, 2004 at 9:26 pm

Save Our Historic Buildings, a community group, sued the city and developer. With the valuable help of Bill Delvac, an expert in historic preservation law, I was able, as a young attorney, to get an injunction for about three years preventing its further destruction by the city. Unfortunately, although many citizens rallied and the entire city council eventually changed to a pro-historic preservation mentality, it was not in time to save the theatre. If we had had that council in place then today we could be enjoying a Spaghetti Factory in our own city with our theatre intact. Instead we must travel to Duarte and on the theatre site we have yet another drug store. However the fight we fought resulted in a paradigm shift so that we now have citizens who are watchdogs and a city administration which values and protects our remaining historic buildings and quality of life. I was honored to play a part in this succesful battle. —David Dickerson

mason75 on December 15, 2004 at 5:05 pm

Actually, the theater was not damaged by the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake! That was a flagrant lie perpetuated by the owners of the property at the time as they preferred to demolish and build a new strip mall instead of preserving the property. In fact, the Old Spagehtti Factory was looking to move in, but the owners and the city at the time was not interested in “historic preservation.”

Ranks as one of the saddest buildings lost in Whittier, right up there with the old Carnegie Library, demolished in the “Out with the old, In with the new ” movement of the 1950’s. Still, Uptown Whittier retains the charm and character of a midwestern town. My advice…buy now before the prices go through the roof in one of L.A’s best kept secrets: Whittier!

jcejnar on August 22, 2004 at 10:35 pm

I’m away at college now, but I was down in Whittier about six weeks ago. Personally I think they should have remodelled or renovated the Whitwood Mall because if you have gone in there before it was demolished it was kind of gloomy and empty. They had to do something with it. I don’t think that they need a Target or a WalMart as they are both farely close in Santa Fe Springs, but I guess it’s all in the name of corporate greed. If they do put something in there I hope it’s a Target and not a WalMart. I know where the Walgreens on Whittier is, it’s surprising that that area used to be a movie theater because it’s nothing but warehouses and factories now. The Regal Cinema was put in after the Quake and has been vacant for sometime, they needed to do something with it.

bouse1 on August 20, 2004 at 2:11 pm

The theater was located on Whitier Blvd. just south of Hadley. I think there is a Walgreen’s there now. There are some automotive repair shops next to where is used to stand. I was just 8 years old when the quake happened and I do remember the old Quad. It has since been replaced with a generic strip mall. Also if you don’t know this by now, they demolished the Whittwood mall just recently.
They are building another generic strip mall with a Target or Wallmart. Whittier just lost another piece of history that made the city a great place. Seems like the city is trying to turn Whittier into another typical suburban “cookie cutter” city, which is sad because Whittier has so much history and character. Enjoy visiting uptown and some landmarks while you can. Included with the demo of the Whittwood was the Regal Cinema theater on Scott Ave. I just drove by it last weekend, and that too is gone.

jcejnar on August 14, 2004 at 12:58 am

Where exactly was the Whittier Theater? I’m from Whittier and had moved there just prior to the Whittier Narrows Quake, which was the first quake that I ever experienced. I just remember that there was a lot of damage especially to where the Quad is at right now. They had to demolish a lot of old buildings and put in new ones.

StephenLodge on May 27, 2004 at 7:57 pm

My family lived in Whittier in the late ‘40s and early '50s. I remember the false sky with clouds and stars overhead, the balconies, the Spanish feeling, and the rest of it. When I was very young, I thought the movies were made in the lighthouse tower outside then sent to the screen in the theater below. We went here for the Class “A” Movies — the Wardman for the lesser “A"s, and the Roxy for the "B"s, the kiddy matinees, and the Republic Westerns.

ppops70s on April 28, 2004 at 1:44 pm

I remember the lights on the ceiling. In the 80s, the price for admission was $1 for students.

ejheck on March 30, 2004 at 8:21 pm

We bought a little ranch house in 1961, about half a mile from the Whittier Theatre. In those days, patrons waiting for the previews of coming attractions to begin were treated to a simulated evening sky overhead. Tiny lights in the ceiling looked like stars. They projected images of clouds up there, appearing to drift from the back of the theatre toward the screen. Also, false “balconies” with Spanish wrought iron detailing on either side of the proscenium were lit by orange floodlights from below, giving the impression of exterior walls facing an open courtyard at twilight. The effect was charming.

Deborah on January 19, 2004 at 1:24 am

I especially liked to watch movies from the upper balcony inside the Whittier Theatre. It was a sad sight to see it fall. I am glad to have good memories of it.

William on January 9, 2004 at 2:46 pm

The Whittier Theatre opened in 1928 and its architect was David S. Bushnell. A Spanish lighthouse tower looks down on the theatre and its connected retail shopping center. The patio to the north of the theatre provides a semi-enclosed public space upon which the small retail stores open. This building type (a theatre combined with a forecourt of retail stores) came into being in Califorina in the mid-1920s.

William on November 13, 2003 at 8:29 pm

The Whittier Theatre was located at 1410 W. Whittier Blvd., It seated 1016 people and the last chain to run it before the earthquake was Pacific Theatres.