Showing 26 - 43 of 43 comments
Good luck Bill. It may come down to suing the (corrupt) San Diego City Council to force action though. Given what you wrote into the document, it would go a long way to explain why I couldn’t get into the build through legal means. They wouldn’t have wanted anyone getting in to document the actual condition of the interior of the California.
Ladies and gents, the window of opportunity for me to photograph the interiors of the California has sadly passed for me. Due to a lucrative job offer, I have moved to Huntsville, AL and will start hunting vintage theaters there. It’s my sincere and genuine hope that someone will get into the site and be able to explore and document its rich history the way I’d hoped to.
To Prof Neill,
I don’t use Apple VR or the other VR programs. While they make a wonderful experience for houses and small businesses in real estate sales, they don’t work for a very large site like this unless the massive files are held and processed on an business level net server (which as a freelance photographer, I don’t have). The programs and captures required are painfully labor and memory intensive. They do absolutely nothing to capture the character or the beauty (even decayed beauty) for a place such as this. I’ll be going for the National Geographic versus Century 21 feel which the images. I can and will however try arrange portable lighting and capture high quality area panorama shots and detail of various critical areas (including structural captures where possible). In places like this, I do my very best work.
Please understand one important thing here. Throughout our posts here and conversations back and forth you may not have understood my motivation. I see the enormous potential, amazing beauty, remarkable history and lush character of this place as it is and how it once was. I photograph fallen places and faded beauties to capture the history before they are gone. In my area and experience, I’ve seen far too many places have their guts ripped out by metals theives, the walls used as a canvas for taggers and grafitti ‘artists’; and in the end plowed under, burned down, or ravaged by developers. It’s a sad and very distrubing trend in Southern California. While I hope and pray this place is restored, I have to look at the reality of the market there, the behavior of the new owners (they have an extensive history of destructive redevelopment in Los Angeles) and the on-going condition of the building itself. I have been trying to get into this place legally for nearly two years. I’m genuinely afraid that this place will meet an untimely and suspictious end.
Unfortunately, the lawyer responsible for the deal and the new owners seem to be as difficult or more difficult to reach than the previous one. More work on that when I get the chance. My personal life and employment situation has taken front row center of late. I’m hoping to be in San Diego again several times in the coming months and hope to see the building more during those visits.
Per a request prior to the foreclosure, I’ve withheld commentary till now.
Right now the California has fallen into the hands of Windmill Investments (of Los Angeles). With a bit of luck, I’ll make contact with representatives of the company next week. I will likely be making an offer to photograph the site commercailly to document it for historical and resale purposes. The local consortium held out an offer to ‘possibly’ photograph it, but I have my suspictions that the site will be sold to an overseas buyer given the current market and Windmill’s connections and I may not be living on the west coast much longer.
More to follow soon,
Mr. Neill, I’ll likely be calling you tonight, but there’s aspects of this that I find implausible given the condition of the building when last I saw it and according to most recent reports. Most of the retail sections have been stripped bare and require extensive renovation. That observation is from what I saw when I was there last spring. I’d like into the complext to photograph it as is. Let’s see what’s there.
jjmaccrimmon -at- gmail -dot- com
I’m still trying to get in touch with them. I finally have a name for the agent.
Ladies and gents, an update, or not. Approximately a week ago, I sent a registered letter to the owners of record, California Theatre Investment Group LLC. This was my third attempt to contact them for legal permission to enter the site and photograph the complex. The Post Office has the letter in their tracking system and they have attempted to deliever it several times – unsuccessfully.
The result.. nothing. No one is even making an attempt to sign for the letter at the Post Office. I am convinced at this point that the business listed as the owner of this building is a front or a shell and nothing is being done to restore it.
This sadly follows a familiar trend concerning historic/abandoned locations. A company will buy a site and propose redevelopment only to be turned down because of it’s historic nature of the building(s). When they exhaust the normal efforts to gain the partial and total demolition of a site, they sell it to a holding company which promises restoration of the property. The only thing that happens is they sit on the site for years doing minimal ‘upkeep’, and allowing it to deteriorate in hopes that as time passes a more favorable situation will develop (condemnation, fire, vandalism, etc).
My hope is that I’m mistaken and the owners of the propety will yet contact me. The next steps to get in touch become more complicated. The California Theatre Investmenet Group LLC is registered in California (USA) so there has to be a lawyer or law office acting as their representative – that’s one avenue to pursue. Next the registration in California requires the principals of the LLC (the main investors) to be identified. That’s my second avenue to investigate. In both cases, any help from the community here would be very appreciated. I’d like to explore and document this site before it disappears forever.
Slight correction, the address was 500 West instead of 500 East Avenue L.
The Jet Drive-In was at 500 E. Avenue L, in Lancaster. The best info I can locate is that it opened in the late 1950’s and closed in 1987. The theater was a single screen operation and had parking for approximately 400 vehicles. On a recent expedition to find and confirm the site, we located the foundation of the concession stand and the base of the screen. The parking area was completely paved, though the desert is trying to reclaim the site.
The Jet Drive-In was a victim of it’s size, location and viewing trends. When a sharp economic downturn affected the nearby communities, the theater simply couldn’t compete according to the info I’ve located. Pictures of the ruins to follow soon.
Well folks, it’s been a month since mailing the owner and I’ve received no response. It’s been 3 weeks since e-mailing Mr Young and Mr Neill (above). No response has come back from either of these gentlemen despite their interest in the building. Looks like I’ll be getting on the phone to call a few folks for info and legwork there.
Is there anyone on the list in San Diego that has heard anything new or recent in terms of the theatre and its on going status?
To D Scrimger,
I can certainly understand that it will be costly to an extent. Since the building recieved a historic landmark status, that both imposed restrictions on what could be done, but also what has to be done. For example, you can not under California statue change the appearance of the building from the historical constructs of versions, this includes structural upgrades, but excludes fire protection. Becasue the building was already built and subsequently modified to the 1964 California Earthquake protection standards, it wouldn’t require further modification except to install a fire suppression system.
As for cheap labor, too many places doing renovations and building already use cheap labor from south of the border. Fact of life now, but I don’t see this changing. I am curious about how extensively the building was upgraded before it was closed down. “If” I can get permission to photograph, I’m curious how solidly built the place was. Falling through floors really sucks.
It’s always sad when a grand old place goes away. It’s part of why I try to document and record them. Sometimes the images inspire action, somethings they spur memories. In Beverly Hills, I’m not surprised it got torn down. Los Angeles has not memory of history beryond what’s convienent to sell the next big thing. I photogrpah sites and activities there regularly mainly because so much is disappearing. This site is at the edge of the Gas Light District and might pull in more support. The stories of who’s played this place are utterly amazing.
Here’s a link to the external photos I took in March while in town. http://jj-maccrimmon.livejournal.com/196615.html
As a bit of added information, I sent correspondence to the title holder of record for the California Theatre on April 11th. No response has come back nor has the letter been returned as undeliverable. I’ve also had no replies from either Mr. Young and Prof. Neill whom I’d e-mailed at the addresses listed above on the 13th of this month.
According to the multiple phone and business directories, the Trustee “Lance Badgwell” and the LLC for the company has no phone number. Something smells fishy to me. Is anyone else listening in on this Theatre and has any more recent information?
They apparently don’t want it reopened to give their new theaters competition. Sad.. Oh well, I may have to swing by to photograph the site this summer when i visit the area.
I’m very pleased to say that this theater complex appears to still be operating. A Google search yeilded the following:
There are several more listings with movies being shown as double features.
I grew up in Jeffersonville and passed this site frequently. This was in fact a former drive in movie theater. In the late 1970’s, the owners converted the venue to a adult movie theater and opened an adult bookstore in the former snack bar. Local civic leaders did bring obscenity charges and frequently tried to close the place. At one point, the property was surrounded by a 25' privacy fence to keep the presentations and viewers, private.
The growth of Clarksville, Jeffersonville, and Sellersburg on all sides of it would have doomed this venue regardless of what it was showing. The vicious nature of small town politics, only adds to the manner in which it was apparently taken by immenent domain.
Wow, I can’t believe this place fell so far. I remember this being the premiere site to go see movies in Louisville. Before I moved away in 1989, this place was where every big movie opened in town. The importance of the movie or popularity either put the showing in the cavernous Cinema #1 or #’s 3 & 4. The smaller theaters were built to compete with the miniplexes that opened in around the city in the mid 80’s. I remember those huge windows too and the Hellish traffic getting in and out of the complex.
I remember riding my 10 speed from Jeffersonville in order to catch matinee showings of several movies including The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Good times..
This place brings back very fond memories. Having grown up in the Louisville area, as a teen I had the pleasure of seeing Heart play live on the Palace stage. This was during the 1980 to 1985 period when the venue was open but undergoing slow restorations. The ceiling in the auditorium was faded and chipped in some places, but the warmth and glow of the place overwhelmed any feeling of age.
What truly amazed me about this theater was the sound quality. The accoustics were so good that early in the opening set, Anne and Nancy Wilson of Heart actually had their sound crew turn off most of the speakers and amps for the show. Even with these shut down, it literally felt like the music was coming from all sides of me equally, clearly and with a richness that nearly 20 years later still resonates in my memories.
The show was only one of a few visits there; however, let me add to the view of it. To the left side of the main lobby, there is (or was depending on renonvations) an employee access that led to the backstage areas. It also accessed a narrow stairwell that led to storage rooms and dressing areas one and two floors below street level. Given Louisville’s history, they likely also offered access to the steam and delivery tunnels under the street of the City. It was said that during Prohibition, Al Capone would stay at the Seelbach Hotel (now Seelbach Hilton) and use the tunnels to avoid notice and take in a show or two while in Lousiville checking on his ‘business.’
Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of wandering downtown San Diego with a friend and fellow photographer. In our wanderings, we stopped to admire the California. In fact several old-timer, passers-by told us stories about the place which peaked my interest.
I’m a photographer, documentarian and amateur historian. I publish under the name “JJ MacCrimmon” and happen to be one of the moderators of the international abandoned places community on Live Journal (http://community.livejournal.com/abandonedplaces/profile). Although I realize The California isn’t “abandoned” in the sense that it’s been left to rot, it is a truly historic ghost left sadly empty and idle. Given that, I’d love to have the opportunity to photograph and document the site. My goal is artistic documentation and I am will willing to provide of complete set of uneditted digital prints to the owner and the SD Historical Society.
I am intending to send this written request to the registered title holder, but felt that this venue might offer a interesting outlet first. Given the the historic nature of this beautiful location, I’d also like a definitive answer as to who truly speaks for the California? I’ve read both Mr Young’s and Mr. Neill’s comments over the last year in this forum. Gentlemen, it isn’t clear based on your posts and comments.
Sincere and hopeful regards,
JJ MacCrimmon (Photography)