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Here’s a b&w photo of Broadway in 1943. Click on it to get to a page with an enlarging feature. There is a high-angled view of the Roxie’s marquee at far right, and it’s probably the original marquee. Click it a few times to make it big enough to see the detail. It’s all covered in neon.
Northgate Reel Theatre showtimes and such can be found online at this page.
In 1932, El Capitan had a lobby card proclaiming “Free Beer”, and they’d apparently switched their regular doors for saloon-style swinging doors. The wall looks to have been covered with some sort of woody paneling to suggest a cheap saloon’s facade, and there are people in Victorian costume.
What event could have brought on such a display? The sign above the doors reveals that it was the 1932 movie The Wet Parade, an anti-alcohol screed which, from the descriptions I’ve read, may have been the “Reefer Madness” of the Prohibition era— albeit a tad more sophistocated, perhaps, due to its having been based on a novel by Upton Sinclair. I’d dearly love to see it.
Also, I should point out that the Google Maps link at top will not display the correct location of this building until Cinema Treasures gives it the correct address of 419 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
419 N. Fairfax is not in the City of West Hollywood, but within the corporate limits of the City of Los Angeles. Everyone I know has always called that area the Fairfax district.
How about some more confusion regarding Moorpark’s theatre? The California Index has cards referencing Southwest Builder & Contractor articles dated March 21 and July 18, 1930. The first article says that at a meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce they had discussed the feasibility of having a movie theatre erected in town. The second article announced that “Don Mentor is clearing the site and work will be started at once on a new theater building.” No location is mentioned on the cards. The index contains no other cards making reference to theatres in Moorpark.
My guess would be that there was only ever the one theatre operating in Moorpark in those days, and either the authors of the High Street Arts Center’s website got the date when the new building replaced the original wooden structure wrong, or the person who typed the cards for the California Index got the same wrong year on two cards. Odds of the latter event seem slim, so I’d surmise the actual construction date to be 1930.
In regard to the cylindrical objects in the mens room, I don’t recall them being there in the 1960s. I suppose they might have been spittoons, or maybe places to discard cigar or cigarette butts (I believe such devices were called silent butlers), but their tops were pretty close to the floor for either of those functions. It’s an interesting mystery.
Opening of the Rio Theatre at Blythe was announced in Motion Picture Herald’s issue of May 1, 1937. It was built by W.J. Shurtleff and leased to operator Robert Dunagan.
Box 6, folder 16 of the S. Charles Lee papers concerns a Newman Theatre in Newman, California. Could that be this house under an earlier name? (The Lee website doesn’t provide any photos or drawings of the Newman Theatre.)
The Sierra Theatre was apparently designed by none other than S. Charles Lee, in 1938, for an owner named Frank Panero. An article in Southwest Builder and Contractor of May 20, 1938 announced that Lee was preparing the plans for the theatre, giving the projected cost as $25,000, but claiming a seating capacity of merely 350, which would be rather small for a building of the Sierra’s size.
The website for the S. Charles Lee collection at UCLA contains no photos or drawings of the Sierra, but the finding aid reveals that information on the theatre can be found in Box 6, folder 15 of the collection, and either plans or renderings or both are in the collection’s oversized folder 250.
The finding aid also reveals the existence of a Lee-designed (or perhaps remodeled) Wasco Theatre in Wasco, California (a few miles from Delano), also designed for Frank Panera. No photos or drawings of the Wasco on the website, either, but here’s a photo of it from the Kern County Library’s collection. The Wasco now houses a church.
Also, note that the Lee website uses the spelling “theatre” for all the theatres he designed. It is also the spelling on the marquee of the Wasco.
A correction to my above post: Joseph Woollett represented the 5th, not the 4th, generation of the Woollett family to practice architecture.
A search on “Theaters California Glendale” at the picture catalog of the California State Library will fetch seven early photos of the interior of this theatre, as well as a dozen of the Capitol Theatre down the street, and one William Reagh shot of the Alex to boot.
BK: As the “add a photo” feature is still unavailable at Cinema Treasures, the best way to share scans of your photos is to post them at a free hosting site such as Flickr and then link to them from here.
I used to recommend other hosting sites such as Webshots and Photobucket, but Flickr now has the advantage of providing many social networking features so that you can, for example, add your pictures to special interest pools for such things as movie theatres, Los Angeles architecture, and such.
I have a vague memory of having read in a magazine or newspaper article forty or so years ago that the two extra aisles in the Los Angeles Theatre were converted for seating during the boom years of WWII, when many downtown theatres remained open 24 hours and still had full houses for may performances. I know that some movie theatres had their orchestra pits covered over to provide more room for seats during that time.
This photo shows that the aisles were about wide enough for two additional seats per row. I would suspect that, to minimize the cost of the change, the existing seats would have been left in place and the new seats would have simply been bolted into the rows (probably after the removal of the decorative end-pieces on the seats adjacent to the aisles), adding only one additional armrest between them, but I don’t know for sure. Of the 150 or so images of the theatre in the 9 folders in the state library collection (search “Los Angeles Theatre”), all are from the period before the change.
As for the prism device in the basement lounge, I know it wasn’t working in the early 1960s, when I went to the theatre frequently. The restaurant was gone by that time, too, but I remember the aisle-side lighting strips still glowing. They were blue.
As far as I know, nobody has ever come up with a satisfactory descriptive term for the style of the Paramount, or for the many other movie palaces which sported unique combinations of historic styles that were often supplemented with additional stylistic inventions by their architects or decorators. The terms “exotic” and “eclectic” both come to mind on viewing such designs, but neither seems to me fully adequate.
The problem with calling the Paramount’s style either East Indian or Oriental is the same as the problem with calling it Mission (which was how it was originally described on this page); the majority of its elements would be unrecognizable when compared to the elements of buildings actually built in East Indian or other oriental styles. Too much is left out of the conventional terms.
The Paramount’s design did, in fact, share some elements in common with Mission style as it was conceived by the late 19th century followers of the Arts and Crafts movement (rough, somewhat crude finishes, for example, and murals- by Woollett himself- evoking Spanish and Mexican California), but these elements were subsumed in the overall stylistic frenzy.
I’ve always been dissatisfied with the term Art Deco being applied to the Paramount as well, but the more photos I’ve seen of it the more it does appear- both inside and out- to be characteristic of the early 20th century stylistic experimentation with an eclectic mix of exotic styles and modernist, machine-age fantasies which eventually produced what came to be called Art Deco. Still, calling the Paramount “Art Deco” outright further stretches a term that is already used too broadly.
But I do think that the style could be accurately (though incompletely) described as proto-Art Deco, and that the building can certainly be recognized as kin to such acknowledged Art Deco architectural icons as Buffalo City Hall, which was built a decade later.
It would be interesting to know what William Lee Woollett called the style, but I’ve never found any of his published articles- only citations of them in the California Index. I believe that his grandson, Joseph L. Woollett, may still have a practice in Orange County, California, he being the fourth generation of Woolletts to follow the profession of architecture. Perhaps he would know? One thing he would undoubtedly know, by the way, is that Cinema Treasures misspells his family name as Woolett. It’s spelled Woollett, with three double letters.
I see there was a bar conveniently located adjacent to the Lido in 1945. The Ruby Room. I wonder if they sold wine made from tender grapes? Many of the Lido’s patrons probably needed a drink after seeing that sappy movie. The other feature, Wonder Man, might have left many of them already giddy, though.
I can’t find current movie listings for this theatre on the Internet. Is it still open?
California Index contains several references to theatres in Delano, but I don’t think any of them refer to this one. The drive-in which became the Del Mac is mentioned in a citation of a 1950 article from Architect & Engineer, as having been designed for the Valley Drive-in Theatre Company by architect Vincent G. Raney, and having cost $160,000. I wonder if Raney could also have designed the Sierra? He did use the moderne style, as in the 1945 Court Theatre in Livingston.
There are also a few references to the West Theatre, which was sold in 1939. The buyer and seller both had Japanese surnames, and the West was located on Fremont Street, a few blocks out of the main part of town, so I’m wondering if it might not have been a theatre that catered to the fairly large Asian population in Delano, which I believe still has substantial Korean and Filipino communities today.
Another theatre cited in the Index is not named, but is mentioned in a Southwest Builder & Contractor article of February 29, 1924, as being planned as part of the proposed Grower’s Security Bank building, being designed by Bakersfield architect Charles H. Bigger, who was very active around that time. I suspect that this building may have been the Delano Theatre, which stood for many years (and may still stand) at 1008 Main Street.
Ken: I think the nearest theatre to the 5400 block other than the El Rey and Ritz was the Four Star in the 5100 block. It’s been churched.
5410 Wilshire is the Dominguez Building, 1930, by Morgan, Walls & Clements (meaning probably just Stiles Clements, at that date.)
The Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg is the subject of this Flickr account. There are 17 photos, including several well-lit interior shots.
Gregory Waller’s 2001 book Moviegoing in America contains an extract from a 1948 Fortune Magazine article titled “What’s Playing at the Grove”, which includes the information that the Orpheum and the West, the two largest of the five theatres then in town, were operated by Publix Great States, a downstate circuit run by Balaban & Katz of Chicago, which was controlled by Paramount. The Colonial Theatre (next door to the West, and later incorporated into it as the second screen of a twin cinema) was associated with the big chain.
According to the article, in the 1940s the Orpheum had a seating capacity of 1105.
In 1923, businesses on the opposite side of the 100 block of E. 3rd Street from the future site of the Adler included a small theatre called the Mirror, seen at far left in this photograph.
Recent photos and 1940 opening information here.
The architect was Herbert E. Goodpastor. The contemporary report calls the building “a modern version of colonial style” but it looks like ordinary Art Moderne to me.
Opening date was June 7, 1940. Seating capacity was given as 856. The theatre was independently owned.
The Odeon Wimbledon is one of many modern cinema projects designed by the architectural firm of NBDA Limited, of Bollington, Cheshire.
This house opened sometime around 1920 as the New Lincoln Theatre. According to the “Walking Tour” brochure I picked up at the Downtown Pleasanton website, it was built about 1920 in the Mission Revival style. The brochure says that it became the Roxy in the 1940s, but the California Index has other information.
Issues of Motion Picture Herald from July 25 and August 22 of 1936 reveal that at that time the theatre was sold by Charles Chicazola to James B. Lima, and Lima then changed the name to Roxy (though Cal Index spells it “Roxie”.) The Downtown Pleasanton brochure gives the current address of the building as 641 Main.
The brochure also mentions two other theatres which once existed in downtown Pleasanton, both of which occupied buildings that are still standing:
1) 511 Main Street, built 1910, opened as the Gem Theatre and later became the Lincoln Theatre. No word on what happened at this site after the New Lincoln Theatre opened ca.1920.
2) A mission revival building at 720-722 Main was built as an auto showroom and garage ca.1920, but in 1945 was converted into the Rancho Theatre, “a Spanish movie house.”
This twin is apparently open again, but the name has been changed to Key Cinemas.
Here’s their website. Their phone numbers & email address are on the “Contact Us” page.
Here’s somebody’s Flickr photo of it from 2006.
California Index says that the Dixon Theatre got mentioned in the Better Theatres Section of Motion Picture Herald, May 1, 1937. A remodeling perhaps? Anyway, the Google Maps satellite view shows the address as being in the middle of a block of buildings in Dixon’s old downtown, so I’d say closed, not demolished.