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This is the order in which Sid Grauman acquired his theatres in Los Angeles: The Million Dollar was opened in 1918. In 1919, he acquired Quinn’s Rialto and had it remodeled (by William Woolett, architect of the Million Dollar and the Metropolitan.) In 1922, he opened the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The Metropolitan opened in 1923. The Chinese was the last of his Los Angeles area theatres, opening in 1927.
Los Angeles grew rapidly during this period, the populations of both the city and the metropolitan area just about doubling in the decade before the onset of the depression in 1930. Financing was easily acquired for all sorts of building projects, and the tremendous popularity of both vaudeville and movies made big theatres a very profitable investment at the time.
I just noticed a typo in the third paragraph of the theatre’s description. The appearance by Edwin Booth was not in 1877 (before the theatre even opened!), but in 1887.
ken mc: The library must have mislabeled the picture to which you linked in your Nov 30 comment. It has to be earlier than 1936. The picture shows above the theatre entrance the name “Grand Opera House” which, by 1936, had not been used for decades. From the pristine condition of the white stone facade (and the floor-length dress of the woman at the far left), I’d guess that the picture actually shows the theatre within a few years of its 1884 opening.
If you refer to the concave wall with giant fluting above the marquee, that was a common feature of many buildings, whether theatres or retail shops, all around Los Angeles during the Art Moderne period. Another theatre with a similar feature was the Arden in Lynwood, a few miles southeast of downtown. If you refer to that splendid round marquee, that was a feature of several theatres that occupied corner locations, including the RKO Hillstreet, the Warner Downtown, and the Wiltern.
The Wardman is listed here as Whittier Village Cinemas. It’s still open, and has been multiplexed.
Ah, much improved. I see that the recent comments are no longer showing discrepancies either. The caching system is more sophisticated than I’d expected.
Yay caching! The site seems much speedier to me, so far.
To Lost Memory: The discrepancy you noticed in the number of updated theatres from one page to another is probably not a bug; it’s most likely just characteristic of the way caching works on the site. You’ll notice that the list of recent comments differs on various pages, too. I suspect this is because a page is re-cached complete, including its sidebar, at the time a new comment is made. Thus, the recent comments and updated theatres and all the other sections in the sidebars are cached just as they are at that moment. If you go from a page which was cached five minutes ago, it shows sidebar updates to that moment. If you then go to a page that was cached twenty minutes earlier, that page will show the sidebar updates as they were those twenty minutes ago.
This could probably be changed if the sidebars are loaded separately from the rest of the page, but it might not be worth the trouble to make the major change in the site’s design that might be needed to do that, merely to eliminate something that isn’t really much of a problem. Personally, I don’t mind the discrepancies at all. They’re a small price for such a great improvement in performance.
A brief history of the No Nothing Cinema, from the web site Shaping San Francisco, which also features, among its extensive collection of vintage photographs, a few pictures of other San Francisco theatres.
The correct name of the architect of the Fox Westwood Village Theatre is Percy Parke Lewis. P.P. Lewis was granted a certificate to practice architecture in California in May of 1924. In 1928, he became a charter member of the Certified Architects Association of Beverly Hills. As far as I’ve been able to learn, the Village was his only theatre project. I’ve found references to his designs for Christian Science Churches in West Los Angeles (1934) and Beverly Hills (1938- this in association with engineer Floyd Stanbery); a 1930 residence in West Los Angeles; and a Westwood Village store building for the Potter Hardware Company, also 1930.
The Village Theatre was a joint project of Fox-West Coast Theatres and the Janss Investment Company, developers of Westwood Village. Ground was broken for the theatre in November, 1930, and it opened on August 14th, 1931.
To add to the confusion, there was another New York City theatre, on 125th Street, which is listed at Cinema Treasures as the Gotham. It was built in 1903 and demolished in 1965.
I think that Chuck1231’s picture might be of the theatre listed at Cinema Treasures under the name Movieland, which was at Broadway and 47th and was called the Gotham from 1944-1951.
Interesting. That picture from the Pomona Library includes a Van de Kamp’s bakery up the street, but it’s missing its windmill.
Anderson is about ten miles south of Redding along highway 99/Interstate 5. The theatre building was still there about 25 years ago, the last time I was in Anderson, but I believe it had by then already been closed for some time, and I don’t remember it being called the Valley. The theatre was right across the street from the Southern Pacific’s main line to Oregon, and I believe the small building on the left in that photo is the old Anderson railroad station.
Here is a picture (from the L.A. Public Library collection) of the Garnett Theatre, taken about 1909, when it was still called Tally’s New Broadway.
Though the style of the Tumbleweed is designated above as “Atmospheric,” it was not a true atmospheric theatre. The ceiling did not depict a sky, but was a structure of open trusses and exposed rafters, as can be seen in this photo from the S.C. Lee collection at UCLA. The style of the theatre, both inside and out, could be more accurately described as Rustic.
Arian: There were several Los Angeles area theatres owned by the Chotiner circuit. The one at 8th and Vermont was Chotiner’s Parisian, later operated as the Fox Parisian.
Incidentally, Max Chotiner was married to silent movie actress Alice Calhoun, who was herself half-owner of the Marcal Theatre (listed here under its final name, the World Theatre) in Hollywood.
The only Grass Valley theatre currently listed at Cinema Treasures is the Del Oro. It is located on Mill Street, and the caption of your picture indicates that the Montez was on West Main Street, so they must not be the same theatre.
The address of the Metropolitan Opera House is 858 North Broad Street. The theatre is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Apparently, the theatre continued to present some stage productions even after being converted to show movies, as I found a reference to this being the location of the American stage premier of Stravinsky’s opera “Oedipus Rex” which opened at the Metropolitan on April 10th, 1931.
The architect to whom this entry attributes the Metropolitan, John B. McElfatrick, died in 1906. Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts web site attributes this theatre to his son, William H. McElfatrick.
The Philadelphia Architects and Buildings web site has an interesting biography of John McElfatrick, and also one of William McElfatrick which includes a page of his projects, with the Metropolitan being the first listed. The firm of J.B. McElfatrick & Son was apparently engaged by Oscar Hammerstein to draw the plans for this theatre in 1907, after J.B. McElfatrick died.
90 years seems a bit old for a theatre in Carpenteria, which was a pretty small place for the first couple of decades of the 20th century, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it dated to the 1920s, when the development of local oil fields brought a sudden increase in the town’s wealth and population. The growing number of automobiles and improvement of the coast highway would have made Carpenteria more easily accessible to people from other, smaller towns along that stretch of coast about that time, too, making for a larger pool of theatre customers.
No, wait. I got that wrong. There’s a different sketch at the library, actually of the Pasadena Academy, which was mislabeled as being the Inglewood Academy, but I think that has been fixed. The sketch you linked to is the actual Inglewood Academy, mislabeled as being in Pasadena.
ken mc: It’s a double mistake by the library. The sketch is of the Academy Theatre in Pasadena, and it should be dated about the mid-1950s, which is when the former Fox Colorado (itself the former Bard’s Colorado) was remodeled and renamed.
David Donley: There are a very few references to Julian T. Zeller in the L.A. Library’s regional history database, and only one of them is to a theatre other than the Alcazar/Liberty. This is from the November 2nd, 1925 issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor, and it says that Zeller had prepared sketches for a proposed $100,000 theatre to be built on A Street in Oxnard. It is not clear that this theatre was actually built, or that, if it was, that Zeller did the final plans.
The only theatre which I’m certain was on A Street in Oxnard was the Oxnard Theatre (later the Fox Oxnard Theatre) at 525 A. This theatre, though planned as early as 1920, was not actually built until 1928, and the final plans were by architect Alfred F. Priest, who had also drawn the original 1920 plans.
I haven’t been able to find much documentation of the theatres in Oxnard (I’ve seen references indicating that as many as six may have been built there by the 1930s), and the Oxnard Theatre itself is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures. Until someone roots around in Oxnard’s records, we probably won’t know if Zeller’s theatre plans of 1925 ever came to fruition.
The only other mentions of Zeller are about his design for a Swedish Lodge (Lyrian Lodge- no location given) in the Los Angeles Examiner of 3/22/1914; his design for an apartment house at 198 E. Jefferson in Los Angeles (mentioned in Southwest Builder and Contractor, 5/7/1920); and his design for four frame bungalows to be built at 118-130 E. 37th Street, Los Angeles (Southwest B&C 7/16/1920.) Builder and Contractor Magazine of 10/17/1912 gave the address of his offices as rooms 215-216, Courrier Building, Los Angeles. He was also mentioned in the February, 1929 issue of California Arts & Architecture Magazine, but I don’t know what that was about.
I’ve searched the Los Angeles Public Library’s web site, and they apparently have the entire collection of Southwest Builder and Contractor on microfilm, available in the Science and Technology Department at the central library, 5th and Grand, downtown. I’d like to take a look at the collection myself, but I live several hundred miles away from Los Angeles now.
There isn’t much about Clifford Balch on the Internet. Almost all the results of a Google search link back to this site. Here is Cinema Treasures' list of theatres worked on (partial). He may have worked in the offices of L.A. Smith in the early 1920s, as when Smith died (about 1924-1926), Balch completed many of the theatres on which Smith had been working.
Balch appears to have specialized in theatres, most designed with his partner, engineer Floyd Stanbery. I’ve found reference to only one non-theatre project by Balch- plans for an IOOF temple at the southwest corner of Green Street and Fair Oaks in Pasadena, in 1913. Either this was unbuilt, or has been demolished. There has been a gas station on that corner for as long as I can remember, which is back to the early 1960s.
In 1914, as the Isis, this theatre was being operated by William H. Clune of Los Angeles.
Daily Variety of September 30, 1941 announced that the Monrovia Theatre had been acquired by Fox-West Coast Theatres, so the theatre was operating under that name by that time.
AJG: I’ve found additional references to the Mission Theatre. It was located on East Olive Avenue, and opened in 1910. It must have been built as a live theatre, as a 1914 reference says that as part of a remodeling by the new owner, Mr. J.C. Kuert, of Los Angeles, a “modern operating room” (meaning a projection booth) was being added. A balcony with an additional 150 seats was added at the same time.
I have also found another reference to the Colonial Theatre. It opened in 1920. The 1921 remodeling included “the construction of a complete stage.” I don’t know if this means that the theatre had previously lacked a stage altogether, or merely had an inadequate stage. It may have opened as a nickelodeon. As I’ve been unable to pin down a location for the Colonial, or a construction date for the Monrovia Theatre, I can’t yet eliminate the possibility that the Colonial and the Monrovia were the same theatre under different names.