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The original Hastings Theatre was designed by South Pasadena architect Roland Decker Pierson. Pierson had earlier designed at least two other big, single-screen theaters for the Sterling Organization, these being the Rolling Hills Theatre in Torrance, and the Montclair Theatre in Montclair.
The Hastings was the subject of an article in the March 25, 1968, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, describing the unusual features of its design, including its continental seating arrangement and reverse auditorium. The seating capacity was given as 1,542.
Two more theaters that can be attributed to Roland Decker Pierson are the Edwards Huntington in Huntington Beach, and the Azusa Drive-In in Azusa.
The architect of this theatre was Roland Decker Pierson. Sterling’s Rolling Hills was one of several theaters featured in an article on theater concession stands published in the October 19, 1964, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.
The November 30, 1970, issue of Boxoffice had an item saying that Sterling had again hired Pierson, this time to design a two-screen addition to the Rolling Hills Theatre. Each of the new auditoriums would seat 500, and would have been stacked one above the other. This would have been the first such theater in the Los Angeles area had the plans been carried out.
After designing the Rolling Hills Theatre, Pierson also designed at least two other theaters for Sterling: The Montclair, in the city of the same name, and the Hastings in Pasadena.
Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about a proposed theater in Montclair in its issue of August 15, 1966. The Montclair Theatre was to be built by Sterling Theatres (later called SRO Theatres), and was designed by Roland Decker Pierson, the South Pasadena architect who had designed Sterling’s Rolling Hills Theatre in Torrance. The item was illustrated with an architect’s rendering of the exterior.
Later issues of Boxoffice, published after the house opened, mention that Pierson designed the Montclair Theatre.
The April 6, 1964, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item on this theater, with an architect’s rendering which closely resembled the final design. At the time, the proposed name of the house was the Beach Theatre. The architect was Roland Decker Pierson. The cost of the building was projected to be $742,000, and seating for 1055 patrons was planned.
The theater was the second house built for United Cinema Corporation, a company founded and controlled by James Edwards, but which was separate from the Edwards Theatre Circuit, of which he was also still the president, and which still had its headquarters in San Gabriel.
Items in various issue of Boxoffice Magazine from 1955 indicate that the Edwards San Gabriel Drive-In opened early that year. The architect of the 1100 car theater was J. Arthur Drielsma. The project included a 2,400 square foot building at the base of the screen tower, on the street side, which was designed as an office for the Edwards Theatre Circuit, and the company’s headquarters remained there from 1955 until it was moved to Orange County in the 1970s.
The February 4, 1956, issue of Boxoffice featured a photo of the Edwards San Gabriel Drive-In, about a year after it had opened.
Though Edwards opened the theater in partnership with Pacific Drive-Ins, and for many years it appeared in the Pacific Drive-Ins listings in the Los Angeles Times, by the mid-1980s it was being listed in the Edwards Cinemas section, along with the Edwards Drive-In and the Azusa Drive-In.
To expand on my comment just above, the May 20, 1950, issue of Boxoffice says that the architect for the conversion of the Masque into the Vagabond was Dwight Gibbs. In addition, the item says that Herb Rosener also owned five theaters in San Francisco and one in Portland, but it doesn’t name them.
An item in the May 27, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine provides some information about this theater. It became a film house, and was renamed the Vagabond, in 1950. Before that, it had been a legitimate house called the Masque Theatre. After being enlarged and completely remodeled, it became the fifth art house in a small, local chain operated by Herb Rosener. The other theaters in the chain were the Laurel, Esquire, Studio, and Sunset Theatres.
The October 8, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine noted that the Big Sky Drive-In had opened recently. It was designed by architect J. Arthur Drielsma. The May 7 issue of the same magazine had said that theater was being built by, and would be operated by, a partnership called Big Sky Corporation.
A brief item in the December 21, 1951, issue of Boxoffice said that Lou Berman had disposed of his interests in the Big Sky Drive-In to Jack Drumm and a group of associates.
Though the Edwards Theatre Circuit did once operate several drive-ins in the San Gabriel Valley (usually in partnership with Pacific Drive-Ins), I don’t recall the Big Sky being among them. My memory of the listings so long ago is pretty dim, though. I do know that the Big Sky was listed in the Times with the Pacific Drive-Ins by 1971.
The actual opening of the Lancaster Drive-In was in 1950. It was one of five drive-ins opened in Southern California by the middle of that year that were designed by Los Angeles architect J. Arthur Drielsma. It opened as a single screen theater with a capacity of 650 cars. The owners were James Anderson and F. Scott. All this information comes from an article in the march 16, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.
Originally built for the Edwards Theatre Circuit, the Sunland Drive-In was among five drive-ins opened around Southern California in 1950 that were designed by Los Angeles Architect J. Arthur Drielsma. These were mentioned in an article in the March 18, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The article gave the capacity of the Sunland Drive-In as 650 cars.
The Magnolia Drive-In was one of at least five Southern California drive-ins opened in 1950 that had been designed by Los Angeles architect J. Arthur Drielsma, according to an article in the March 18, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The original owners of the Magnolia were Frank Berrson and Walter Dennis. It was to have a capacity of 475 cars, according to the Boxoffice article.
Although Southwest Builder and Contractor announced in the issue of June 13, 1947, that Clifford and William Balch were preparing the plans for this theater, it appears that the owners decided to go with another architect. The March 25, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Starlite was scheduled for a May opening, and that it had been designed by Los Angeles architect J. Arthur Drielsma. The magazine said that the theater could accomodate 850 cars. The original owners and operators of the Starlite were Ford Bratcher, his brother Carl Bratcher, and Byron Congdon.
I wouldn’t call the style Art Deco. If anything, it was Art Moderne, with early Googie overtones.
The October 21, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine carried an item saying that the Cherry Pass Drive-In had begun operation. It was being managed by Sol Levin for the owners, Beau-Ban Enterprises. The theater featured a double box office pavilion, children’s playground, dance floor, and a 60 foot screen. It was one of many drive-ins designed during the era by Los Angeles architect J. Arthur Drielsma.
The Webber Theatre was built in 1917, according to the obituary of its builder and long-time operator, DeWitt C. Webber, published in the October 21, 1944 issue of Boxoffice Magazine. Webber had operated his eponymous theater until his retirement in 1935, after which he leased the house to Fox Intermountain. Earlier, he had opened the Majestic Theatre in Colorado Springs in 1907, and operated the Iris Theatre in Denver from 1908 until 1917. He lived in an apartment over the Webber Theatre until his death at the age of 79. The apartment featured a window overlooking the auditorium, so he could watch movies while lying in bed.
The November 5, 1955, issue of Boxoffice mentions the Webber Theatre in an article about unusual features of various Denver theaters. At that time, the Webber sported a small zoo in its lobby, with hamsters, white mice, and a deodorized skunk among its denizens.
The Webber shows up again in the April 27, 1964, issue of Boxoffice, in an item headlined “Denver Webber Renovated and Becomes First Run.” Among the features of the renovation were deep red loges, red and beige carpeting, and new beige satin drapes. A new screen and projection equipment were installed, and the marquee updated. At this time, the Webber was being operated by Atlas Theatres.
Unless there was a second location for the Empress Theatre, it dates from before the 1930s. In a classified ad published in the January 16, 1926, issue of the trade publication The Reel Journal, one C.H. Horstman offered the Empress Theatre, Chaffee Missouri, for sale. No price was quoted, and no address given, but the house was described as seating 600, and its three story building as having a dance hall on the second floor and a lodge hall on the third.
If the 2008 photo depicts Mr. Horstman’s Empress Theatre, then it’s lost its upper floors at some time. I notice that the brick of the upper portion of the facade does appear to have some patchy areas that might indicate former second floor windows that have been filled in. It’s not unusual for the owners of buildings in older commercial districts to lop off the upper floors if the demand for the space vanishes.
Trade publication The Reel Journal carried an item about the Delmonte Theatre in its issue of January 16, 1926. It said that Jack Weil and Ray Miller had taken a long-term lease on the house, and would “…show feature pictures in conjunction with five acts of high-class vaudeville and orchestral specialties.” The lessor was named as Fred L. Cornwall, and the theater’s seating capacity was given as 2688.
The October 1, 1949 issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced the impending opening of the Whittier Drive-In in Pico, California. It was the 14th drive-in for the Pacific chain. The cost of construction was given as $350,000.
The January 7, 1950, issue of the same magazine gives more information. It names the architect as J. Arthur Drielsma, and gives the capacity as 1,225 cars, making it the second-largest outdoor theater in the world. The Whittier was equipped with Motiograph projection equipment and in-car speakers, the screen was 51'x68', and the marquee was produced by the Wagner Sign Company.
From a brief item in Boxoffice Magazine, October 1, 1949: “Ted Jones, president of the Western Amusement Co., was here recently for the opening of the new $100,000 Port Theatre, erected on Coast Highway by contractor-owner Ralph Wilmot.” The headline read “Lease of Nearby Parking Lot Clears Way for Opening at Corona Del Mar.” The opening had apparently been in doubt due to the failure of the owner to provide the off-street parking the city had required as a condition of the permit to build the theater.
Later in the article there’s a paragraph about a lawsuit against Wilmot brought by a group of investors claiming they had had an agreement to trade a Long Beach motel for the theater, and that Wilmot had later refused to complete the deal. The court was asked to appoint a receiver to take charge of the theater until the suit could be settled. Maybe the owner’s various legal problems had something to do with the lack of fanfare for the Port’s opening.
Interesting that the intro paragraph of this page says the theater again lacks off-street parking.
vokoban’s drawing from The Times must depict the original plans by Walker & Eisen. The Southwest Builder & Contractor article listed in the California Index says the second floor didn’t get built until the 1930 remodeling. I’ve never been able to find a photo of the Parisian as it actually looked in the 1920s. The Chotiners had very bad timing if they failed to build that rental space at the beginning of the boom years of the 1920s, and then built it at the beginning of the depression.
The building now on the site of the Parisian was built in 1985, according to the L.A. County assessor’s office. A card in the California Index says that the name of the cafe that expanded into the Parisian after it closed as a theater was the Stockyard Restaurant.
This enormous web page (dial-up warning) from the Pacific County Historical Society features a brief biography of George Reizner. It says that Raymond’s Tokay Theatre was built in 1920, at a cost of$150,000, and seated 1200.
The page also contains several photos of Duryea Street at various times, a few of which show the Tokay Theatre. Among them is this 1950s photo, from which it can be seen that the Tokay was a good-sized building, and probably had a balcony, so the large seating capacity is surely plausible.
In this undated aerial view of Raymond, the Tokay can be picked out in side view as the large, dark building with a stage house, a couple of blocks inland from the water tower.
A time line for 1920 on page 22 of the web document mentions the opening of the Tokay on October 4 of that year, and lists the names of the ushers.
The biography says that Reizner was from Lodi, California, and that at the time of his death he still owned a vineyard there. I came across a card in the L.A. library’s California Index which cited a May 1, 1937, article in Motion Picture Herald which said that T&D Jr. Enterprises was taking over the Tokay Theatre in Lodi. I wonder if George Reizner or some other member of the Reizner family had owned that Tokay theater?
Here’s an old photo showing A.G. Basil’s Raymond Theatre. A couple of early streamlined cars indicate a date no earlier than the mid-1930s. In fact, I think the car just this side of the street lamp is a Ford Coupe from 1935, the first year Ford streamlined its cars.
Trademarked or registered business names are portable. They must be renewed periodically, and you must actually be doing business under that name or you can’t renew your registration, so if Ms. Cote does hold the rights to the name she will have to get something up and running before those rights lapse.
If the outfit that bought the theater building didn’t buy the business name along with it, they can’t use it, unless the owner of the name lets them do so, or loses the rights to the name through non-use. Whether or not they could use the shorter name “State Theatre” I don’t know. It makes me wonder what will become of that neon signage.
And the Auburn Journal apparently doesn’t know the difference between a copyright and a registered business name or trademark. Most people probably don’t, but a newspaper should know better. They use both!
Like three of the other four current locations of the Megaplex Theatres chain, the Megaplex 20 at The District was designed by FFKR Architects of Salt Lake City.
Like three of the other four current locations of the Megaplex Theatres chain, the Megaplex 17 at Jordon Commons was designed by FFKR Architects of Salt Lake City.
Like three of the other four current locations of the Megaplex Theatres chain, the Megaplex 12 at The Gateway was designed by FFKR Architects of Salt Lake City.