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In the Google Maps satellite view, this location (at least as Google marks it with its little green arrow) is a parking lot now, and one that looks as though it’s been there a long time and hasn’t been paved in years. Furthermore, TerraServer provides an aerial photo from 2000, and it too shows 615 Garrison as a parking lot. Are both websites mis-marking the location? Joe Wasson reported the building being vacant when he added the Sebastian to the database. That must have been later than 2000, since CT hasn’t been around that long. Is the listed address wrong? Where’s the Sebastian?
The January 26, 1940 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor contained an announcement that Clifford Balch had prepared plans for remodeling both the Glen City and Lynn Theatres in Santa Paula.
According to this 2007 post in the Santa Paula blog, the seats were removed from the Tower and the floor leveled sometime around 1993. The building is owned by the city of Santa Paula and the city’s plan is to have a retail shop or a restaurant in the building.
In a July, 2007 article in the Ventura County Star, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz was quoted as saying of the 1926 structure that “It’s not a historic building and it can’t be used as a theatre anymore.” He added “The only use it’s had is the 1950s neon marquee, where we put holiday messages at Christmas.” Maybe that signals an intent by the city to save the marquee. But the last I heard the building is still vacant.
William B. David was a very busy man, having had careers as theatre operator, unlicensed architect, and movie producer. There’s a brief biography of him on the Friends of the Cerrito Theatre web page. As David’s company operated the Altos, it seems a distinct possibility that he could have designed it as well.
Incidentally, two of the movies David produced in the 1940s are available as free downloads from the Internet Archive.
I’ve only just come across a card in the California Index which cites a Los Angeles Times article of August 11th, 1929, which announced plans for a theatre to be built at 114 E. Colorado in Pasadena. That must have been the Tower. The card is headed HORTON, B.G. I don’t know if that was the name of the architect, the builder, the owner, or what. I find no other references to a B.G. Horton in the Index. A mystery for someone to unravel, then.
The Oaks Theatre was not only built quite a bit earlier than the 1930s, it was built before 1925 when that Wurlitzer organ was installed. It was called the Savoy Theatre at one time, and was the first home of Gilmore Brown’s Pasadena Community Playhouse (founded 1917, though I don’t know whether or not that was the year it moved into this house.)
When the Playhouse company moved to their new theatre on El Molino Avenue in 1925, the house was extensively remodeled to plans by Pasadena architect Walter C. Folland, according to Southwest Builder & Contractor issue of April 10, 1925. Alterations mentioned included a new front, floors, marquee, seats and interior decoration. Presumably, as it was being converted into a movie house, it got a screen and projection booth as well.
I’ve been unable to establish whether the theatre was called the Savoy before, or during, the time it was the home of Brown’s playhouse group. I don’t know if it was actually built for the community playhouse, or was an existing theatre that Brown had remodeled. What can be established by an article in the Pasadena Star News of May 19th, 1925, is that the name became Fair Oaks Theatre at this time. The Star News referred to the new picture house as “…a family theatre with fine equipment.”
At any rate, the Oaks turns out to have been considerably more significant historically than I had ever imagined.
The L.A. library’s California Index contains a 2MB PDF file of a brochure published by architect Walter C. Folland, which contains a small drawing of his design for the facade of the Fair Oaks, which was quite different than the plain facade I recall from the 1960s. Download the PDF file here.
I’ve seen that mis-captioned photo before, and notified them of the error, but they’ve never fixed it. At least the USC archive has fewer mis-captioned photos than the L.A. library does.
But he’s obviously an international jewel thief casing the joint.
As can be seen from the full version of the photograph above, this was called Edwards San Gabriel Drive-In Theatre. It was one of several San Gabriel Valley drive-ins in which Pacific Theatres and the Edwards circuit were partners.
I remember watching this place being built, but I can’t remember exactly what year that was. I think it was no later than 1956, and certainly was not very much earlier.
It was Clifford Balch who designed this theatre, according to Southwest Builder & Contractor of July 27, 1934.
The changes just made to this page are wrong. This page is for the Temple Theatre in Temple City. The former Temple Theatre in Alhambra is listed at Cinema Treasures under its final name, El Rey. The first several comments above are misleading and full of inaccuracies.
The Temple Theatre in Temple City was built for the Edwards Theatre Circuit in 1940 and was designed by S. Charles Lee. It was marked by a tall vertical sign which was attached to a pylon which had a sort of hybrid colonial-art moderne style. The Temple was demolished in 1982 and replaced by this Edwards multiplex which has now also been demolished.
The Oriental was built in 1921, according to both the county assessor’s office and the April 15, 1921 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor. The SB&C article gives the projected seating capacity of the theatre as 1200. Having been to this theatre, I can say this was a gross exaggeration.
Also, I’d say this theatre should definitely be listed as being in Hollywood, not Los Angeles. That’s why it was once called the West Coast Hollywood Theatre.
Ken, you’ve heard of it.
Also, the Royale should be listed as having been in East Los Angeles. At 5123 E. Whittier, it was well outside the city limits of Los Angeles.
Did the name originate with the district or with the theatre? The San Leandro Times says the Bal Districts are of mostly post-WWII development. It’s easier to tell what came first in Fresno’s Tower District, for example, since the neighborhood is considerably older than the theatre from which it eventually got its current name.
Here is an article with several photos of the Bal, including some interior shots.
I haven’t been able to find how the theatre got its name, but what I have found is an online excerpt from a book called “Got a Revolution” which reveals that The Bal’s owner, Renny Lamarre, was also the manager of a young musician named Marty Buchwald and, not liking that surname, changed it to Balin, taking the first syllable from his Bal Theatre. Marty Balin then went on to fame as a member of the San Francisco band Jefferson Airplane.
Purely as speculation, I wonder if the theatre’s name was chosen because bal is the French word for ball, as in fancy-pants dance?
The Rio was not on the corner, but just up the block on the west side of Western Avenue. The county assessor’s office gives the address of the parcel on which the Rio stood as 11239 S. Western Avenue, and the building now there was erected in 1995. At TerraServer you can see the 1994 aerial photo of the intersection, and the Rio was still there, so it must have been demolished in 1994 or 1995. I think it had closed earlier though.
I passed by the Rio several times in the 1950s, when we used to take my grandfather fishing in Manhattan Beach, and we usually drove down Western and turned west on Imperial. It was a nice looking modern building with the theatre’s name in enormous letters. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a photo of the Rio somewhere on the Internet but I can’t find it right now.
According to the county assessor’s office, this building was erected in 1925, but has an effective year built of 1927. A different effective year built usually indicates some major addition or alteration, but in this case the two dates are so close together it makes me wonder what happened.
As I now know that this theatre backs up to 3rd Street, I’m thinking that perhaps this was, after all, the theatre proposed in 1925 which I mentioned in the first paragraph of my comment of December 8, 2004, above. The bulk of the Avenue does occupy a lot fronting on 3rd Street, and only a narrow structure containing the lobby connects it to Downey Avenue.
There are at lest two vanished South Gate theatres missing from Cinema Treasures though. There were houses called the Gem and the Avon, which probably existed during the silent era. They may have been knocked down by the 1933 earthquake, as many buildings in that area were.
According to the county assessor, the building at Long Beach and Glenwood was built in 1941, with an effective build date of 1946. I wonder if it could have been the Trianon Ballroom, a popular night spot of the 1940s and the site of several live remote broadcasts of a music show called One Night Stand produced by the Armed Forces Radio Service during WWII?
The building also looks like it could have been a bowling alley. Bowling became a fad in the 1930s-1940s, and L.A. used to be littered with streamline moderne bowling alleys.
Status should now be “renovating” in that case.
Nick and Edna Stewart opened the first Ebony Theatre in 1950, in a former garage at Washington and Western. After a couple of moves, the highly successful and well-respected theater company moved into the Metro Theatre in 1965. The names Ebony Theatre and Ebony Showcase Theatre were used to describe both the venues and the theater company which occupied them.
In the 1990s the Community Renewal Agency of Los Angeles seized the Ebony Theatre’s buildings by eminent domain. Despite assurances from the agency and from Nate Holden, then the city councilman for the area, that the theatre would be saved, the buildings were demolished in September of 1998. Today the site is occupied by a multi-million dollar arts and theatre complex owned by the CRA and named for Holden.
Three small photos of the theatre in its later years can be seen on this web page at the site maintained by Nick and Edna Stewart’s daughter, Valerie Stewart. Other pages on the site tell the story of the Ebony Showcase, and of its sad fate at the hands of the city’s urban renewal agency.
Cinema Treasures has actually been moving in the opposite direction, eliminating various neighborhood names such as Westwood and Westchester. In any case, the way the site is set up, Los Angeles and East Los Angeles are already lumped together by the search function.
Yes, now that the Rancho de Cucamonga has been entirely subdivided and developed, they’ve changed the name of the town from Cucamonga to Rancho Cucamonga. Sort of like a killer taking on the identity of his victim.
East Los Angeles is the official name of an unincorporated community. If the place ever incorporates, it would probably keep the name. Casually, the name East Los Angeles or East L.A. is also used to describe the whole region on the east side of Los Angeles, including a lot of neighborhoods within the city such as Lincoln Heights (which actually was officially called East Los Angeles when it was first developed back in the 1870s) and Boyle Heights. Officially, though, it’s just that unicorporated area between Los Angeles and Monterey Park.
The site of the Crystal is more than a mile west of Indiana Street, so it’s well inside the city limits of Los Angeles.