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The Muse, at 417 S. Main, was a few doors north of the Rosslyn Hotel’s original building. The Rosslyn Theatre, at 431 S. Main was probably either in the old hotel building itself, or right next to it. I’ve never seen any trace of either theatre in period pictures of Main Street, and they were both fairly small, so I suspect that both were in converted retail space and probably didn’t have proper marquees. Both were still open into the early 1950’s, so there were plenty of chances for them to show up in photographs. I still hope to stumble across a picture that includes one or both of them someday.
My mind boggles at the thought that the Rosslyn Hotel has been converted to lofts.
I think the RTD building extended north from about mid-block, and there was a multi-level garage between it and the Rosslyn Hotel’s north building. The Rosslyn Hotel, in the late 19th century, was in a four story building just south of mid-block. Then they took over another hotel in a taller building immediately south of that, and then built their first tower building on the northwest corner of 5th and Main in 1914-1915. I think the building on the southwest corner of 5th and Main was built in 1921 or 1922. The Rosslyn Theatre was most likely located in converted retail space in the earliest Rosslyn Hotel building, now the garage site. The Muse was north of that, where the RTD building was later built.
I remember visiting the RTD headquarters a couple of times in the mid-1980’s, to speak to the customer relations representatives about problems with particular bus routes. It was indeed like going into a bunker. There were armed guards in the lobby, and visitors had to sign in, and they had to wear an authorization tag while they were in the building. The atmosphere was oppressive. I doubt that many customers ever bothered to come in to report problems, not only because of the seedy location on decayed and half-vacant Main Street, but because of the almost paranoid atmosphere inside the building. I suspect that this building was one of the factors that caused the RTD’s management to get so completely out of touch with the bus system’s users.
R.W.: According to his memoirs on the web page linked above, Charles Hermann began working in 1911, so it seems unlikely that he’d still be living. Perhaps his granddaughter, Penny Allen Nelson, is still maintaining that web site (the most recent date mentioned on her own web page is 2004.) If her e-mail address posted at the bottom of that page is still working, you could try contacting her to ask if she has any further information about her grandfather’s career in Akron’s theatres.
I’ve found a page about the Rialto at the web site of a firm that sells architectural antiques. They mined the building for its relics before it was demolished. Their text claims that the building was built in 1898, and merely renovated, rather than rebuilt from the ground up (though they claim that the renovation took place in the 1920’s, which seems unlikely, as the decorative details on the exterior are surely 1930’s era streamline moderne style.) They show a small but decent photo of the theatre in its last days, and the exterior design does look as though it had been attached to an older structure.
The similar names of Visalia’s theatres has caused a lot of confusion. It should be noted that the photo to which ken mc linked in his comment of Oct 28, above, does not depict the Theatre Visalia, but rather the 1930 Fox Visalia Theatre to which Magic Lantern linked in his comment of Jan 12.
Dennis, I do recall that the El Rey was the first theatre in Alhambra to get a CinemaScope screen. The very first CinemaScope movie ever released was “The Robe” which was released on September 16th, 1953, but I don’t think the El Rey’s screen was installed early enough to have shown that movie on its initial release. It actually took a couple of years for CinemaScope screens to make their way into a majority of theatres, partly because it took a while for the studios to demonstrate that there would be enough movies in the format to induce theatre owners to make the substantial investment to install new screens and projection equipment.
In the meantime, many movies (including The Robe itself) were released in both CinemaScope and in standard 35mm versions. For a couple of years, theatres which had installed the new system would often find themselves short of new CinemaScope product, and, to fill the gap, would show either non-CinemaScope movies, or earlier CinemaScope releases which the studios kept available especially for that purpose.
Finding out when specific theatres installed CinemaScope would require a bit of research- probably looking through their ads in local newspapers, as a theatre which had installed it would always advertise the fact. For the first couple of years, most theatres with newly-installed CinemaScope systems would inaugurate them by showing “The Robe” for one week. My fuzzy memory of when the El Rey got CinemaScope is complicated by the fact that I think the first wide-screen movie I saw at that particular theatre was the 1960 version of “Cimarron” (being a Fox-West Coast house, the El Rey had highest ticket prices in Alhambra, so we didn’t go there often.)
The reason I think that the El Rey might not have gotten CinemaScope until 1955 is that I believe that the one time we went there before the new screen was installed was to see a re-release of “Gone with the Wind”, and according to the GwtW release dates page at IMDB, that re-release had to have been the one in December of 1954.
I do remember being in the El Rey and seeing the screen surrounded by the framework which was going to be used in the demolition of the proscenium to make room for the new screen. If that happened before the December, 1954 screening of GwtW that we saw there, then I must have gone to the El Rey once before then, but I have no memory of having done so.
Dennis, I think that the fact that the organ was still in use at the theatre you attended in the 1940’s is interesting. By the time I began attending the theatres in the area, the Rialto in South Pasadena was the only one that still had a working organ, and I never got to hear that one. My first visit to the Rialto wasn’t until a couple of years after a fire on the stage had destroyed the organ console, in the early 1970’s.
It’s possible that the Granada still had an operating organ until it was remodeled and renamed the Coronet, but I’m not sure what year that happened- it was most likely in the mid-late 1940’s, as the remodeling took place before I ever saw the place.
I only went to the El Rey once before it was given a CinemaScope screen, and I don’t remember seeing an organ console at that time. If the organ was still there when CinemaScope was installed (1955, I think), it certainly would have been removed to make way for the wider screen.
There was a three story building on the northeast corner of Garfield and Main. The ground floor of that building was for a long time the location of the Thrifty Drug Store. The building on the northwest corner, with the Owl Rexall store in it, was when I first saw it in the late 1940’s only one story tall. After Owl moved out, it was the location of Lucky Auto Supply for a long time. Both of these buildings have since been demolished. The top two floors of the one on the northeast corner were removed after being damaged by the 1971 earthquake. The remainder was demolished, along with the old Kress building next door to it, just a couple of years ago to make way for an new Edwards multiplex theatre (which is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures.)
I don’t recall a stamp shop on Garfield. By the mid 1950’s, the only stamp shop I knew of was on the south side of Main just west of Second, in the same block as Pedrini’s music store. I don’t remember the name of it. Then next nearest stamp store that I knew of was Royal Stamp Supply on Raymond Avenue in Pasadena.
I don’t have a clear memory of the decor in the Bun ‘n’ Burger. We only went there a couple of times, and that was probably after 1955. My dad grew up mostly in Manhattan Beach, and that’s where his favorite hamburger joint was. When he wanted a hamburger, we’d usually hop in the car and drive the twenty or so miles to the beach (on surface streets all the way) to get one. We always lived in South San Gabriel, either near Garvey and San Gabriel Boulevard, or in the hills near Potrero Heights. My frequent jaunts to Alhambra were facilitated by the fact that we always lived within a couple of blocks of one of the local bus lines operated by Foster Transportation. Alhambra was our downtown, and from the earliest times I remember, we went there at least once a week.
Dennis, you saw the theatres in Alhambra before I did. The first time I went to a movie on Main Street was probably about 1953. I lived in the area until 1986, and attended all the theatres you mention except the Ritz.
The Ritz was not in Alhambra, but on Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena, a block north of Mission Street. The Ritz was the first theatre in the area to be closed and demolished. I’m not sure exactly when, but it must have been before 1961 or 1962.
The Rialto was also in South Pasadena, three blocks south of the Ritz, on the other side of the street, at the Corner of Oxley. The Rialto is still there, still open, and still operating as a single screen theatre. It is the only intact survivor among the old theatres in the western San Gabriel Valley.
The El Rey Was the theatre across Main Street from the old main building of Alhambra High School. It was operated by Fox-West Coast in the 1950’s, while the other two theatres on Main Street were both operated by Edwards Theatre Circuit.
The Alhambra Theatre (which is listed at Cinema Treasures under its final name, Alhambra Twin Cinemas) was at the southeast corner of Atlantic Boulevard and Main Street. If you attended it in the early 1940’s, you must have been there at the time The Annex (built in adjacent retail space in 1941) was operating. I don’t remember seeing The Annex in use until it was re-opened as the Gold Cinema sometime about 1970.
The Granada, was the original name of the third theatre on Main Street (and it was probably the oldest), but its name was changed to The Coronet some time before the early 1950’s, and then changed again in the early 1960’s to The Capri. This might be the theatre you’re thinking of, but it was not east of Garfield. It was located in the building on the southeast corner of Second and Main, catty-corner from the old Alhambra City Hall. If I remember correctly, the corner retail space in the building was, when I first saw it, the location of a music store, and then there was a stairway up to the second floor where there was a dance studio, then a small lunch room next to that, and then a tiny jewelery store next to the theatre entrance. I don’t remember what was in the tiny shop on the other side of the theatre entrance. This was the first Main Street theatre to be demolished, after it was badly damaged in the Sylmar earthquake of 1971.
As far back as I can remember, there were no theatres on Main Street east of Garfield. My earliest memories of Main Street go back to about 1948 or 1949, but they only involve the shopping district, not the theatres. I remember, very vaguely, when the Owl Drug Store was on the northwest corner of Garfield and Main. I remember, very clearly, when J.C. Penney moved from its small store where Downer’s was later located to its big new building east of Chapel Avenue. I even recall going in the old J.J. Newberry store, and then seeing it demolished and replaced by W.T. Grant’s new building. But at that time, there were no theatres east of Garfield. It was nothing but shops and a few lunch rooms and, a bit later, a couple of banks.
I do remember the Bun and Burger. In fact, it is one of the places that is listed at L.A. Time Machines, a web site devoted to surviving bars and restaurants (and a few other businesses) which are largely unchanged from decades ago.
Here is a photo of Lankershim Boulevard in 1926, with the El Portal nearing completion. (From the USC Archives.)
For some reason, my E-mail address doesn’t display on my user info page here (I thought it did.) I don’t know how secure Cinema Treasures message board pages are from address-collecting bots, so I don’t want to post it here. You can use the E-mail address I have posted on this page at LiveJournal.
The stories of Mr. Metzger and the anonymous suicide sound like they could have been scenes out of noir movies of the era. But at least nobody ever came crashing through the roof of the Roxie.
The Roxie was one of the Broadway theatres I never got around to attending. It was already a grind house when I began going downtown, and I preferred going to the first or second run theatres farther south, or on Hill Street. All the theatres north of 6th street except the Million Dollar were a bit sad and run down by the 1960’s.
Of course, since the building is still there, there’s always a possibility that it will be renovated and re-opened some day, so I might still get a chance to add it to my list of theatres I’ve attended.
andypcl: The Paramount Theatre Building in Los Angeles was just an ordinary office building wrapped around two sides of the theatre. I don’t know if the Paramount Theatre Circuit had any offices of its own in the building or not. The company’s headquarters was in the New York City Paramount Building.
There were other office buildings connected to other Paramount Theatres in other cities, too— Oakland and Palm Beach (though the last only had two floors, so wouldn’t have had a room 514), that I know of for sure, and there were probably many others. Unless your object specifically names the Paramount Theatre Building in Los Angeles, Mr. Benjamin’s office might have been in some other city.
There were at least three other Garrick Theatres in California alone early in the 20th century— San Diego, San Francisco and Stockton each had one, that I know of. Philadelphia and St. Louis also had them, and probably many other cities did as well. It became a popular name for theatres long before movies were invented. Ultimately, all of them were named for David Garrick.
The photo at the top of this page shows the Garrick after the 1921 remodeling by G.E. Bergstrom. The original facade, by architects Train & Williams, can be seen in this photo of the Hyman Theater from the L.A. Library photo collection. The facade, largely unchanged from its days as the Hyman, can be seen in this later photo of Broadway (from the USC archives), showing the Garrick Theatre at the lower right.
I have re-checked my source for the date of construction of the Hyman/Garrick Theatre, and see that the 1913 date actually referred to another Hyman Theatre, in San Diego. As the plans for the Hyman in Los Angeles were announced in September of 1910, this theatre probably opened in early 1911.
Incidentally, Train & Williams was the firm which designed the operators pavilion and power house which long stood at the top of the Angel’s Flight funicular. As far as I know, the only other theatre designed by Train & Williams was The Strand in Pasadena.
Wilmar was actually a bit farther west (The Times probably didn’t know too much about the area.) Shortly after 1950, the unincorporated communities of Wilmar, Garvey and Potrero Heights were consolidated (by the post office department, I think) under the name of South San Gabriel. Incorporation was attempted a couple of times, but eventually the locals gave up and most of the place ended up being annexed by the city of Rosemead in the 1960’s, with a few parts being annexed by San Gabriel, Monterey Park, South El Monte and Montebello. Most of what was once Potrero Heights remains unincorporated even now though, and still goes by the name of South San Gabriel.
I lived in Rosemead until August of 1986, so I remember when they built the K-Mart, but not the exact year. I was only in it once, in 1982, I think. I think the Garvey Theatre and the rest of the block were demolished close to the end of the 1970’s, or maybe as late as 1980. Even with an opening date before 1938, the Garvey was probably a church for longer than it was a theatre.
The planned theatre mentioned in the 1942 item was the Edwards Santa Anita Theatre, posted at Cinema Treasures under its final name, Cinemaland Theater.
Thanks, vokoban. This clears up some mysteries. That is indeed the same Garvey Theater, but it was built a bit earlier than I had thought if it was already open in January of 1938. I remember Mr. Greely, too, vaguely. He ran a small drug store across the street from the theatre, and also owned Greely’s Trailer Park. I had no idea his first name was Horace, though.
The second article names the Granada Theatre in Alhambra, which was later known as the Coronet and then the Capri. Now we can be sure that the first name change occurred after July of 1941. This theatre was also operated by Edwards, though I’m not sure just when they took over.
The date of the Garvey’s fire was a bit earlier than I thought it had been, too. I’d had the impression that the fire had happened about the time I turned five, but March 23rd 1949 was only two months and a few days after my fourth birthday.
The “San Gabriel Valley Theater” on Las Tunas mentioned in the fire article as the scene of a previous suspicious fire was the Edwards San Gabriel, posted at Cinema Treasures under its later name, Edwards Century. I wasn’t aware that it was one of the theatres which had had a fire.
The 1952 article about someone rehearsing at the theatre is a bit puzzling. The Garvey had no stage to speak of— just a small platform in front of the screen, not even behind the curtain, and no fly tower at all. They did have a magician perform at the theatre once, but that’s the only live event that I know of having taken place there. When the place was later converted to a church, I think they extended the platform out a few feet, sacrificing (no pun intended) a couple of rows of seats.
The 1953 article about the revival meeting confirms my vague memory that the Garvey was a church for a while fairly early in the decade. It later re-opened as a theatre, briefly, but when CinemaScope came along, Edwards didn’t think the place worth the investment for a new screen, and it returned to being a church, which it remained until its demolition.
Thanks again for posting this information. I’m a bit surprised that The Times contains so many mentions of this obscure suburban theatre.
Speaking of theatre fires, I’m wondering if the Times has anything to say about the fires which I’ve heard occurred in several Edwards theatres in the 1940’s? I know that the Arcadia Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1942, and my neighborhood theatre, the Garvey, was gutted by a fire apparently set by an arsonist in about 1949 or 1950. When the Garvey was being restored, I remember my mom saying that “somebody is trying to burn down all the Edwards theatres”, but she has no memory of these events now. Most of Mr. Edwards' theatres were in the San Gabriel Valley then, but I believe he still had three or four in the city of Los Angeles, so the Times probably would have mentioned any fires at any of those, even if they didn’t run articles on fires in the suburban theatres.
It seems possible that the Palace of Pictures occupied this location for only two years, between 1914 when Brown’s music company closed, and February of 1916 when the lease on the location was obtained by Innes Shoes. Many early movie houses were located in converted retail space, and they often didn’t last very long.
“inst.” is a now archaic abbreviation common until the early 20th century. It means, essentialy, “this month”.
The Rex was the small neighborhood theatre later called the Lux. I recall seeing it a few times before it was demolished as part of the Bunker Hill urban renewal project.
I can no longer find the original references to the Shamrock Theatre (at the L.A. Library web site) the information from which I used when I added this theatre. The only card I can find now is one which makes reference to an article in Southwest Builder and Contractor, issue of December 26, 1924, which, with the heading “BANDBOX THEATRE”, says that the Los Angeles Art Commission had approved a marquee (designed by A.W. Kennett) for the theatre at 608 south Hill Street. I wonder if it’s possible that the theatre was called the Bandbox, then the Shamrock, then the Band Box?
Bill is correct. United Artists Theatres listings in the Los Angeles Times of August 24th, 1986, show this house as having four screens.
Both this theatre and the UA Twin outside the mall must have opened after February of 1971, as the only theatre I find listed in Westminster in the Los Angeles Times on February 10th of that year is the Cinema West 1&2, which was operated by Edwards Cinemas.
vokoban: in case nobody has gotten around to answering your question somewhere else (I’ve had a couple of busy days myself), the FAQ about how to add links is right here.
A more complete explanation of UBB code is available here. I’m more accustomed to making links with HTML, myself, and I’m only just now becoming accustomed to the UBB used at Cinema Treasures. The UBB italics and quote tags work here, but I haven’t tried the bullet list and right now is the first time I’ve done bold. I don’t think the site allows images to be displayed on the boards, though.
OK, I found the place listed in the Times for 1971, under Independent Drive-Ins. It was located in Arlington, which I believe was an unincorporated community which was later annexed to the City of Riverside, sometime after the theatre closed. (Somebody will have to double check this— my knowledge of areas that far east of L.A. is hazy.) According to this page about it, the Magnolia was on Magnolia Avenue between Tyler and La Sierra, it opened in 1950 or 1951, closed in September of 1984, had a capacity of 450 cars, was operated by Santa Fe Theatres, and it has been demolished.