College Theatre

439 S. Hill Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Showing 1 - 25 of 39 comments

Nathan on November 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

I have seen 439 and 441 listed as its address, but its address was 447/449, as per the Baists map. The flattened facade from Joe Vogel’s 2009 comment seems to remain here, though modernized, in this ca. 1957 slide image.

The 1951 Sanborn has this restaurant as 449/451, though a sign on it says 447. I keep looking at that ghost sign to see if I can ascertain “COL” as the first three letters of “College”…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Here is an item announcing the proposed College Theatre, from the Los Angeles Herald, September 11, 1910:


“The moving picture enterprise has finally struck South Hill street. Soon an ornate theater building will be erected on the Dr. West Hughes lot, 40x120 feet, just north of the California club, corner of Hill and Fifth streets. Through the agency of William P. Ferris of 406 West Seventh street Dr. Hughes' lot has been leased for a period of ten years to A. S. Hyman and Charles Prochazko at rental aggregating $100,000. The lessees of the lot will begin the erection of a high class picture theater building at once. The lot leased is on the west side of Hill street, halfway between the Los Angeles-Pacific railway station and Fifth street.”

$10,000 a year was an impressive sum for Dr. Hughes to be earning from his small lot in the 1910s. You could buy a suburban lot and put up a nice, six room bungalow on it for half that then.

HughMN on February 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

According to references copied from Motion Picture World, T.L. Tally ran this theater from at least October, 1912.

The following item appeared in Motion Picture World, Vol. 14, No. 7, 16 November, 1912 (page 653):

I have located the hardest working, most intelligent picture pianist in Los Angeles. She is employed at the COLLEGE THEATRE (a Tally theater on South Hill) and I go there often not so much to see the pictures as to hear her play them, for she not only employs judgment and originality in making the music fit the scenes, but is an artist besides — has tone and temperament. I am told by the management that her name is Ruby Wallberg.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm

The market in the 1955 photo was too far up the block to have been in the theater building. The theater was adjacent to the California Club’s building at the corner of 5th, and the market was several doors north. You can see it in the photo I linked to in my previous comment.

kencmcintyre on April 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm

The market may be the former theater in this 1955 photo from the USC archives:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 1, 2009 at 8:44 pm

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.

kencmcintyre on November 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm

This is an April 1928 ad from the LA Times. Not much to do with the College, saving that Mr. Bley’s office was a block away, but it’s an interesting snapshot of pre-Depression America.


Be a movie theater owner. Big opportunity. Moderate capital required. Houses low as $1500. Easy terms.

345 So. Hill Street, Ground floor.

kencmcintyre on August 31, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Here is a 1923 architect’s sketch of the Subway Terminal building. It looks like they photoshopped the theater out of the drawing:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 5, 2008 at 8:14 pm

The earliest references to the College Theatre in the California Index cite mentions in The Rounder, a weekly magazine. The September 17, 1910 issue features the theatre on its cover and on page 16 (my guess would be that this was on the occasion of the theatre’s opening), and the October 15 issue that year announces the appearance at the College Theatre of the Lillian May Lancaster Orchestra. Sounds as though it was not yet a movie house.

The only reference I can find on the Internet to a Lillian May Lancaster is one naming her the composer, lyricist and performer of a song called “Laura” published in 1907, and giving her the aka Maude Leota Byrd. Well, now she’ll have a reference at Cinema Treasures, too. Hey, Lilly May fans!

odinthor on April 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Two pictures of the Hill St. College Theatre about nine-tenths of the way down at

vokoban on August 9, 2007 at 11:00 am

ken mc & joe vogel….I’d like to share an overlay map I’m working on for the stretch of Main from Alameda to Olympic in six sections. If you’re interested, send me an email. It’s in pdf form. It’s 1906 overlayed on 2007.

vokoban on August 9, 2007 at 11:00 am

ken mc & joe vogel….I’d like to share an overlay map I’m working on for the stretch of Main from Alameda to Olympic in six sections. If you’re interested, send me an email. It’s in pdf form. It’s 1906 overlayed on 2007.

kencmcintyre on August 7, 2007 at 5:43 pm

This photo had me stumped for a while. If you compare it to the one directly above, it appears that the smaller buildings were the site of the Subway Terminal building, which was completed by 1928 if the date on the preceding picture is correct. The College unfortunately would be a little further south and is out of the picture:

kencmcintyre on August 7, 2007 at 1:59 pm

You can see both the College and what may be a Peoples theater in this USC photo:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 3, 2007 at 9:18 pm

The California Club occupied the building at 5th and Hill from 1904 until 1930. I think construction of the Title Guarantee building began in 1930 and it was completed in 1931.

The library has this .pdf of a brochure on Art Deco Los Angeles published by the L.A. Conservancy. It gives the dates of development for the Title Guaranty building as 1929-1931.

vokoban on August 3, 2007 at 7:25 am

But the California Club is still on the corner….could it have been demolished and the Title Guarantee built by 1929-1930 if the photo is that late?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 2, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Ken: that picture is much later than 1920. I don’t think that Walker & Eisen’s National Bank of Commerce Building was completed until 1928. It replaced the old Masonic Temple, which was demolished early in 1925. The site was then used as a temporary location for P.E.’s Hill Street Station while the Subway Terminal was being built. After the terminal opened, the Bank of Commerce Building was built.

kencmcintyre on July 17, 2007 at 5:48 pm

The building I was trying to recall was the Bank of Commerce. Here’s a 1920 photo. The College is between the bank building and the Subway Terminal:

vokoban on June 21, 2007 at 8:33 am

Take a look at the house that was there before the theater:

View link

vokoban on June 21, 2007 at 8:29 am

Here’s another picture where you can see the edge of this theater.

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 20, 2007 at 10:30 pm

The College Theatre was immediately adjacent to the old California Club building which was demolished to make way for the Title Guaranty Building.

kencmcintyre on June 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm

The Title building is on the corner. The other tall white building, name unrecalled, was at 437 or 439 S. Hill, I think. The College and some other little buildings were on either side of the tall building. I think those little buildings disappeared pretty early.

vokoban on June 20, 2007 at 9:06 pm

I think this would have been where the new building is attached to the Title Guaranty Building on the Hill side. I’ve been watching them clean that building every day and its pretty amazing how new it looks with all the dirt gone.

kencmcintyre on June 20, 2007 at 7:12 pm

I’ve wandered around the huge parking lot at 5th and Hill/Olive looking for traces of the College and the Philharmonic building. If I walk around in circles for too long, people start giving me their spare change.