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The location in the info needs to be changed to West Hollywood in order for Google Maps to find the place.
The building at 8818 Sunset was built in 1935, according to the L.A. County Assessor. I can’t recall what was in that storefront before the Cinematheque moved in, though I must have passed by there dozens of times in the early 1960s.
The 25,000 sq. ft. building on this parcel (starting with the address 1011 North Broadway and extending to the corner of Cottage Home Street) was built in 1962, with an effectively-built date of 1964, according the the L.A. County Assessor’s office.
The County Assessor’s office says that this parcel now contains a building erected in 1987. The building that housed the Cine Cienega must have been demolished, and the bar and restaurant must be in the new building that replaced it.
It appears to have operated as McNees Theatre for less than a year. Ralph McNees was a cashier at First National Bank in Whitter who bought a couple of walnut orchards in the area in 1909 and later developed them. Most likely he built the theater as part of his real estate development. There’s a street named after him, too.
The California Index has another card (one that didn’t come up in my previous search) citing a Southwest Builder & Contractor article which named Earl M. Wheatland as the contractor for the Warner Bros. Theatre in Whittier. The Index dates the article to 1/11/1929, but I think that might have been a typo. The citation of the Whitter News article about the McNees re-opening as Warner Bros. Whittier was dated 11/26/1929, so the typist might have gotten the date and month reversed for the SwB&C article.
In any case, the Whittier News article was explicit about McNees becoming the Warner Bros. Whittier, but there’s nothing in the Index about how long Warners operated it. It’s also possible that they didn’t use their name on the theater or in its advertising, and just called it the Whittier Theatre, but that would have been uncharacteristic of the company at that time (Warner Bros. Downtown Theatre, Warner Bros. Western Theatre, Warner Bros. Hollywood Theatre, etc.)
The County Assessor’s office gives an original construction date of 1927, and an effectively-built date of 1935, for this building. Judging from the Google Maps satellite and street views, it looks like this might be a case of a theatre being built behind an earlier commercial building that was remodeled, or added to at one end, to provide an entrance to the auditorium. That would make 1935 the probable opening year.
The current church entrance in Ken’s photos must be in a former storefront, and the theatre entrance, now blocked up, was probably at the southern end of the building where the moderne tower is. I’m inclined to think this was an addition rather than a remodeled section of the earlier building. The photos show the cracks that reveal the shapes of the now-sealed shop windows on the old part of the building, with those angled corners at the tops, characteristic of many 1920s commercial buildings but seldom used by the 1930s.
Additional information: Here is a PDF file of the July, 1991, issue of the Whittier Conservancy’s newsletter, with an item saying that the city had allowed to owner of the Whittier Theatre to demolish the building. This was four years after the theater had been closed following the 1987 earthquake. As the building had stood for four years in its damaged state, it’s obvious that it was repairable.
I can’t believe it took me so long to find these, but the California Index contains cards indicating two early aka’s for this house. A card citing the L.A. Times of February 3, 1929, in an article headed “Work started on Whittier Theater” calls it McNee’s Theatre. Another card cites the Whittier News, issue of November 26, 1929, saying that the McNee Theatre was re-opening as Warner Bros. Whittier Theatre.
Not coincidentally, I think, the small, triangular park across Gretna Avenue from the theater is still called McNees Park.
So we have a probable opening date of mid-1929, as McNees Theatre; a name change to Warner Bros Whittier Theatre in November, 1929; a name change to Bruen’s Whittier Theatre at some later date (I’d guess no later than the early 1940s); and then a still later change to simply the Whittier Theatre, the name under which it was operated by Pacific Theatres.
Also, the address still needs to be updated to 11612 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90601, in order for the Google Maps link to show the actual location. Right now it fetches a spot several miles east, in La Habra.
The info should give the aka Cineplex Beverly Center, the name it had in the L.A. Times theater listings in the 1980s.
I never went to this theater, and was only in the Beverly Center itself twice. I urgently desire never to see a movie here, or to enter the Beverly Center ever again.
I’m convinced that the entire Beverly Center complex was dropped onto the landscape by an alien spacecraft, and then the aliens used a mind-control ray to gull humans into thinking the monstrosity had been legally and deliberately erected by a developer. Someday the Intergalactic Court will require the offenders to return to Earth and remove their hideous heap of discarded refuse. I don’t want to be inside the place when that happens. (/rant)
Google Maps is upset that the address above says La Brea Blvd. instead of the correct La Brea Avenue. It shows a map of the whole United States and asks “Did you mean 3741 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90016?” Then you have to click their link before they will show you the local map.
Looks like Google Maps is even pickier about details than I am.
The information about properties in the City of Los Angeles is available from two sites- ZIMAS, the City Planning Department’s information service, which shows it both on a web page (with a map) and in a .pdf file report, which will have an entirely different type face; and the L.A. County Assessor’s parcel viewer (a somewhat cranky site.) Dating info at both sites comes from the Assessor’s office.
Everything at both sites appears to be digitally generated from a database, but the database itself might have been generated from scans of original documents by some sort of document reader program. The database gets updated whenever there’s a change in a parcel’s status, which is probably done by keyboard entry. There are definitely some mistakes in the database, though I’ve only found a few I know to be wrong. The system appears to be reliable at least 99% of the time.
It was already called the Wigwam Theatre in 1915, according to the listing in the L.A. City Directory that year. Wigwam Theatre might have been its opening name.
The 1915 L.A. City Directory lists the Bear Theatre at 827 W. Third Street. That means the Cinema Treasures page for the Bear Theatre is a duplicate listing. It was just an early aka (probably the first) for the Lux.
The 1915 L.A. City Directory gives the exact address of the Bear Theatre as 827 W. Third Street. That means Bear Theatre was most likely an early aka for the Lux Theatre at that address.
The Savoy Theatre is listed at 5326 S. Central again in the 1915 L.A. City Directory. The address as currently listed above on this page definitely has the two middle numbers reversed.
A Playhouse Theatre, at 1236 W. Seventh Street, was listed among the movie houses in the 1915 L.A. City Directory.
Google Maps gets the right location for this parcel, but their Street View feature totally blows it, showing a spot east of the freeway when you try to view anything east of Hartford Avenue.
I’m still convinced that the Playhouse Theatre building has not been demolished.
A Merryland Theatre is listed at 1015 E. Seventh Street in the 1915 L.A. City Directory.
Listed in the 1915 City Directory as Gore’s Theatre, 1002 W. 9th, so that definitely is an aka.
Also listed as the Gayety in the 1915 City Directory. This theater would have been almost across the street from the Lincoln Theatre.
Yes, the round-cornered building was the First Methodist Episcopal Church, built ca.1890 and designed by architect John Austin. The congregation moved to a new church at 8th and Hope in 1920.
Also listed in the 1915 L.A. City Directory, same address, under the same name.
The 1915 City Directory lists a movie theater called the Creation at this address.
Listed simply as the Broadway Theatre in the 1915 City Directory.
In the 1915 City Directory, an Apollo Theatre is listed at 4821 S. Vermont. As the building was erected in 1914, that must have been the opening name of the Astor.
The 1913 photo link I posted on Oct 8, 2006, has died. The picture is now here.
To very belatedly answer ScottS’s question from May 5, 2007, I think the name above the entrance is “Butler’s.” 608 S. Hill Street is listed as the location of Butler’s Theatre in the 1915 L.A. City Directory.
This earlier photo from the USC Archive (mis-dated as ca.1920, but the tall building on the southeast corner of 6th and Hill, built in 1913, isn’t there yet) shows a different style of facade, without the round arch. It looks vaguely Moorish. This might have been the original theater entrance, or a pre-theater storefront.
The chronology as determined so far would be this:
Probably opened in 1911; Butler’s Theatre from at least 1913; Shamrock Theatre in the early 1920s; Band Box (or Bandbox) Theatre from ca.1924; closed in 1929 or 1930.
Judging from this photo, probably taken between 1928 and 1930, it looks as though the College Theatre might have been converted to retail use even before the old California Club (foreground, on the corner) was demolished. At least the facade of the building (adjacent, to the right of, the California Club) had been flattened and de-decorated, and it looks like there are ordinary store awnings in front, rather than a theater marquee.
Photo is another from the Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive.