Symphony Theatre

614 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Pepperama on December 15, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Here is a link to a night time photo showing the huge electrical sign above the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 1, 2009 at 7:09 pm

The Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive provides this postcard view of Broadway south of 6th Street before Desmond’s was built. The Symphony Theatre occupied the white building with the arched entrance, adjacent to the much taller Story Building on the corner. The copyright date on the postcard is 1916, two years after the Symphony opened. The theater has no marquee in this view, but there’s a big rooftop sign.

The view includes the Palace, then still the Orpheum, a few doors down Broadway. for some reason, the postcard’s colorist chose to make much of the facade of the Orpheum a reddish brown, as though it was faced with brick instead of the bright terra cotta it actually sported.

kencmcintyre on October 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Here’s the dentist ad that was discussed on 1/1/06.

kencmcintyre on October 30, 2007 at 6:27 am

Here is a November 1917 ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on July 7, 2007 at 5:53 pm

I think we’ve established that the Symphony building was replaced by Desmond’s in the early twenties. Subsequently the building that is at that address now is not connected with the original theater.

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 7:18 pm

A Harold Lloyd film was breaking attendance records at the Symphony in June 1922, according to the LA Times. It looks like the theater was torn down a year later, per Scott. There aren’t any more ads for the Symphony in the Times after 1923. Status should be closed/demolished.

reluctantpopstar on May 5, 2007 at 10:18 am

Here’s the solution. This building was torn down in 1923, and Desmond’s Department Store was built on the spot. Opened as Desmond’s for several decades, probably never had a theater in it.

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 10:35 am

This, I think, is the beginning of the end and the end of this theater. I wish there was a photo of the interior at least.

(Apr. 10, 1923)
A partial interest in the property at 612-616 South Broadway, adjoining the Story Building on the south, has been sold by the Columbia Investment Company to the Warehouse Realty Company for $11,500 a front foot. The property has a frontage of approximately sixty-two feet on Broadway, and extends through to an alley for a depth of 160 feet. Present improvements consist of a two-story and basement building, the ground floor of which is occupied by the Walkover Boot Shop, and by the Symphony Theater. The deal involved the sale of a large portion of the stock in the Columbia Investment Company to the Warehouse Realty Company, which, through this transfer, becomes the virtual owner of the property. Confirmation of the purchase of additional stock or plans for the improvement of the property, could not be obtained from officials of the Warehouse Realty Company last night.

The wrecking ball arrives….maybe

(Oct. 21, 1923)
Humphrreys Jewelry Co.
616 South Broadway
Next Door to the Symphony Theater

I don’t know what happened exactly to this theater, but by 1942 there are many ads for Desmond’s at 616 South Broadway. Nothing shows up at 614 South Broadway after the mid-20’s. Maybe I’ll try to find some photos of the Story Building and there might be a surprise.

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 10:18 am

Here are some things about a major remodel at this theater:

(Jan. 9, 1921)
In order to enhance the presentation of pictures the Symphony Theater has been entirely redecorated. The new color scheme is a skillfull blending of old rose, ivory, dull blue and henna, with old rose dominating. No trace remains of the original color scheme. On the stage a rich old-rose velvet curtain has replaced the blue one, and to serve as a shield to the screen when it is not being used, a gold curtain has been installed. The entire wiring system of the Symphony has been changed and electrical engineers have designed more elaborate effects. The ladies lounge has been redecorated in pink tapestry, old rose rugs, and entirely new furnishings. The orchestra pit has been enlarged to allow the addition of more musicians, and the orchestra has been greatly improved.

(Feb. 13, 1921)
Final arrangements have been consummated between Dr. Breckwedel, managing director of the Symphony Theater, and Thomas H. Ince, president of the Associated Producers, Inc., giving the local film impresario exclusive first-run privelage in Los Angeles on all photoplays produced and distributed by the group of directors, including Mr. Ince, J. Parker Read, Jr., Mack Sennett, Maurice Tourneur, C. Gardner Sullivan, Allen Dwan, George Loane Tucker and Marshall Nellan. The Symphony Theater is undergoing a complete physical change. On completion of the remodeling this photoplay house will be essentially attractive. It will be known as the New Symphony Theater. A Hope-Jones organ is being installed and the orchestra is to be enlarged. The decorations are in the hands of a famous Boston interior decorator, who is personally responsible for hundreds of America’s most beautiful picture theaters.

(Feb. 20, 1921)
On Tuesday the New Symphony Theater, completely remodeled, will be open to the public for the first showing of the Thomas H. Ince film spectacle, “Lying Lips.” On account of the many changes made in the appearance of the theater and the many improvements, it was decided to close the theater for Sunday and Monday to allow ample time for rehearsals to insure the proper presentation of the film.

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 10:00 am

(Nov. 14, 1920)
The Symphony Theater Company has leased the store room at 616 South Broadway to the Humphrey Jewelry Company for a period of five years for a rental of $500 per month. The property, formerly occupied by M. Golob, jeweler, has a frontage of eight feet on Broadway.

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 9:58 am

(Sept. 30, 1917)
The Motion Picture Operators' Union yesterday enlisted women and chemicals in its fight against the Symphony Theater on Broadway and failed to do anything but create a bad smell. For a time there was a regular unionite odor in the open-shop theater. Displeased at the fact that Manager C.R. Gates has decided to run his theater to suit himself and not the union, the motion-picture operator’s organization first tried to beat up the open-shop operator. That failing, it got some women to enter the theater at the busiest time in the afternoon and distribute hydrogen sulphids, which has the characteristic odor of rotten eggs. Manager Gates fought this chemical with incense and within a comparitively short time the theater was free from the objectionable smell. The show kept right on.

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 7:30 am

(Oct. 2, 1917)
Symphony Theater-614-616 So. Broadway
Home of Good, Clean Pictures.
Now Showing Ethel Barrymore in “The Lifted Veil”

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 7:19 am

This advertisement gives a different address:
(Dec. 29, 1915)
My System of Dentistry is Painless, Absolutely Painless.
W.T. McNally, D.D.S
One-Priced Dentist
616 So. Broadway, over Symphony Theater.
Phone F4945

vokoban on January 1, 2006 at 7:14 am

This doesn’t give an exact address, but it might be the same Symphony Theater:

(Aug. 27, 1914)
The local movie field will be invaded by another feature photoplayhouse on Saturday evening of this week, when the Symphony Theater, on the east side of Broadway, near Sixth, will open. The new theater will play only large spectactular feature productions, using the big Shubert and Brady plays. “The Lure” will be the opening play.

kencmcintyre on September 19, 2005 at 6:17 pm

I walked around this building today. It looks like the building was originally constructed for offices. There is a large section of windows on the third floor which you presumably would not find if the building was constructed as a theater. The still-existing marquee and flagpole suggest a hotel. None of the offices appear to be occupied.

kencmcintyre on September 17, 2005 at 2:12 pm

I am going to downtown LA next week. I was going to check out the interior of the Globe, but I will take a look at this building as well. The court that I appear in is in the Broadway building on 4th Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 15, 2005 at 5:55 pm

My earliest memory of the ornate building on this site is from the early 1960s. At that time, it was a cafeteria, though I don’t remember the name, and I never went inside. I had always assumed that it was built as a cafeteria, as they were very big business in Los Angeles in the 1920s and were frequently housed in elaborate structures. But now that I think of it, the interior I remember seeing through the big front windows did seem to be much more modern than the exterior, and might have been installed as early as the 1940s. It’s possible that this building was erected as a theatre.