Covina Theater

104 N. Citrus Avenue,
Covina, CA 91723

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A classic 1920’s local movie house with a fabulous neon marquee that was added in the 1950’s, this house was going to be renovated into a performing arts facility. However the building was found to be structurally unsound and unable to retrofit to current earthquake standards, so the city very quickly tore it down in April 2005 without so much as getting an enviormental impact report.

The marquee letters were saved and were proposed to put on the new performing arts center that was built on the vacant lot. Unfortunately, they were beyond repair, but replicas were made, and the Corvina Performing Arts Center opened in October 2007.

Contributed by Senor Sock

Recent comments (view all 27 comments)

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 23, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Crying rooms were pretty standard features back then.

steveo
steveo on February 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Don,
Part of the building survived,,I remember driving by and seeing a gaping open 2nd floor with the studs,etc. and as far as the look resembling the original facade…yes and no… the old marquee is there, but the face of the place looks more modern..

steveo
steveo on February 25, 2011 at 6:39 am

Don,
Thru my 50 or so years of attending diffrerent theatres in
California, Ohio and other places, it’s the only crying room Ive ever seen…This being like a recording booth, where you could watch the movie thru a big glass window.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 25, 2011 at 7:08 am

The Los Angeles has two, apparently one for crying babies, the other for cigar smokers; the Fox Inglewood has one. I think a lot of them were taken out during remodels/updates.

William
William on February 25, 2011 at 8:56 am

The letters atop the marquee are recreations of the letters.

DonSolosan
DonSolosan on February 25, 2011 at 9:16 am

Yes, that’s what the bio says.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Of the various theaters I attended in the San Gabriel Valley (almost all of them fairly old houses,) the only one that I remember having had a dedicated crying room was the Garvey, my childhood neighborhood house. I got to use it once when I was about four years old and freaked out because the movie started before my older sister had gotten back to her seat after going to talk to friends. The crying room worked. I quit crying as soon as I got there, but I think my sudden calm was from the fascination of seeing a new part of the theater that I hadn’t known existed.

Another theater, the Garfield in Alhambra, had two rooms with glazed windows overlooking the auditorium, one on each side of the house. They served as foyers to the rest rooms, and I only saw the one on the men’s room side. It had no seats as the crying room at the Garvey did, but it’s possible that the one on the women’s room side had seating so it could serve as a crying room. I never asked anybody who had been in it.

Of the theaters elsewhere that I attended, I don’t recall any crying rooms, except for the pair at the Los Angeles, but by that time I was a teenager and wasn’t really looking for them. Articles in post-WWII issues of Boxoffice about new theaters frequently mentioned them, though, and from that it appears that they became a pretty common feature during that time.

chococinephile
chococinephile on September 11, 2011 at 12:43 am

Does anyone else wish that movie theaters still had crying rooms, along with cell phone user’s rooms, smuggled in smelly and/or loud outdoor food rooms, etc? I could go on and on!

hammer3112
hammer3112 on October 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

My attendance at the old Covina began with Old Yeller and ended with Defenseless, the second-last movie before it closed. On that last visit, I noted the entire right-side seats had been cordoned off with yellow tape and the acoustic ceiling tiles above them, hanging like inverted trap doors, started swinging pendulously when the air-conditioning came on. I was the sole paid admission.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm

A great deal of information about Frank Cox, architect of the Covina Theatre, can be found in The Life of Tignal Franklin (Frank) Cox (1854-1940), a brief biography by his great-granddughter, Robin Yonash, which is available here as a PDF.

Tignal Franklin Cox (called simply Frank Cox in publications from the period when he was working) had a long and successful career as a scenic artist, decorator, architect, builder, and developer. His first known work in theaters took place in the 1880s, when he began painting scenic drop curtains. He painted curtains for the Opera House in Batavia, New York (1883), and the Academy of Music in Auburn, New York (1884), and in 1885 became the scenic artist for Smith’s Opera Houses in Tarrytown, New York, and in Batavia.

He began his architectural career in New Orleans around 1893, though houses of his design were built from Texas to Illinois. He moved his operation to Chicago in 1900, and about 1918 moved again, to Southern California, where he settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Covina. There, in 1921, he designed the Covina Theatre for his son-in-law George Leonardy and his nephew Earl Sinks.

An item in the February 6, 1920, issue of regional trade journal Southwest Builder & Contractor noted that Frank Cox, then preparing preliminary plans for a theater in Phoenix, Arizona, had “…planned more than 50 theaters for the Klaw & Erlanger interests.”

A nice example of Cox’s work is his drawing of the New Lyceum Theatre in Atlanta, which can be seen on this web page. Unfortunately, the New Lyceum was destroyed by fire in 1901, six years after it was built. It was never rebuilt and so never had a chance to become a movie theater.

Several of his early stage and vaudeville houses did survive long enough to be movie houses, though, including the Majestic Theatre at Streator, Ilinois (1907) and the Grand Opera House in Galveston, Texas, both of which are still standing and serving as theaters.

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