Fox Adams Theatre

4413 W. Adams Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90016

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 8, 2017 at 11:35 pm

I suspect that Mr. Lyons was speaking of another theater, perhaps the Adams Theatre at 1898 W. Adams. Bard’s West Adams was a fairly large house, and Lou Bard always had organs installed in his theaters. This theater was even equipped with a stage house and presented vaudeville as well as movies in its early years, as did Bard’s two other big houses, the Colorado in Pasadena and the Garfield in Alhambra.

JAlex on April 8, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Al Lyons, who was musical director at the Los Angeles Orpheum in the 1940s and who earlier had been an emcee for the stage shows at the Fox in St. Louis said in an interview published in St. Louis in 1931: “There was a small theater, the West Adams, which was so conservative that it didn’t even have music with its pictures. I induced the owner to permit me to rent a piano and become his sole orchestra—for $12 a week. Those were happy—and busy—days. Worked from noon until midnight, playing to the pictures. I rumbled the bass when thunder pealed. I pounded the sides of the piano to simulate the hoof beats of galloping horses. I played songs about moonlight and daisies and purling brooks. I was in truth, delivering all the sound effects the action on the screen demanded.

docchapel on July 26, 2015 at 6:08 am

Bards was a favorite when we would venture to the “Westside” when I was a teenager. Coming west up Adams Blvd, as you came over and down the hill toward crenshaw Blvd., there was huge metal side that proclaimed “Bards” in flashing lights.

Opened in 1925 by Lou Bard as Bard’s West Adams. In the 1929 city directory it was called Bard’s Adams Street. The location is just west of Crenshaw Blvd. Bard operated a number of other theaters including the Olympic downtown on 8th off Broadway, and two Hill Street theaters nearby, the Town Theatre and the College Theatre. Bard’s also built the Vista Theatre on Sunset Dr. in the Los Feliz area, and Bard’s Egyptian Theatre in Pasadena.

In the early 30s after the theatre became part of the Fox West Coast circuit it was called the Fox Adams. Evidently Fox didn’t keep the theatre long — it was called Bard’s Theatre by 1936 if not earlier. In 1945 it was an independent advertising as Bards Theatre once again.

An August 1962 item in Boxoffice noted that “Allied Theaters, operated by Bob Helm, Phillip Hoffman and Sam Decker, has taken a 20 year lease on the Bard Theater, 1,200-seat neighborhood house, which they have renamed the Adams West and switched to a first-run policy. The Bard had been closed for the past five years.”

They did a few live shows in 1963, and Adams West became a music house where I saw Les McCann Ltd perform here and recorded an album of the show. By 1964 it was a Japanese language house, the Kabuki Theatre.

1973 brought Hollywood films back to the theatre but it soon closed for good as a film house. As a later black cabaret venue in the early 80s it was the Apollo West.

Now a church, the current group, Restauracion, has had the building since 2000.

jwpope on September 3, 2009 at 2:02 am

My father was manger of the Bards from around 1951 till the early 60’s. We moved there when I was 7 and lived over the house in apts.It was fun living there as I rode my bike up and down the aisles.Seating around 1100 it took a while to get up and down. There was a pit at one time and also chandeleirs which needed to be removed to show more modern films. Dressing rooms were below but always cold and damp. The house was huge and beautiful and sometimes scary when I was young. We had many live shows, including Ice Capades, Roy Rogers, and the Three Stooges. Saturdays were always full of serials and horror movies were a lot of fun. In latter years memories were mixed as I had my first experiences with race issues. As the area was in a white flight. But it gave me a better understanding of feelings on both sides. I never had any problems and the kids on Saturdays never seemed to mind what color they were. They just came to have fun. Movies seemed so much bigger then and so were the trips to Hollywood for opening night. We cooked our own popcorn in those days and I worked there for many years.

Art1956 on May 15, 2009 at 5:58 am

The Adams West switched from showing movies to live shows in late 1963. Around spring of 1964, it was renamed the Kabuki and started showing Japanese movies until 1973. It went back to showing American movies for a short time and closed for good.I grew up in that neighborhood.I was last in the theatre to see a couple of exploitation movies, before it closed. The theatre was in desperate need of remodeling.

kencmcintyre on February 1, 2009 at 12:31 am

This is from Boxoffice magazine, August 1962:

LOS ANGELES-Allied Theaters, operated by Bob Helm, Phillip Hoffman and Sam Decker, has taken a 20 year lease on the Bard Theater, 1,200-seat neighborhood house, which they have renamed the Adams West and switched to a first-run policy. The Bard had been closed for the past five years.

kencmcintyre on February 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm

The Kabuki Theatre was advertised in the LA Times in April 1964:

unihikid on January 27, 2008 at 12:09 am

from what i can gather aretha franklin once owned the theatre,it was managed by her brother and she mentions it in her for the remodel change,it wasnt a “plane jane” up until maybe 8 to 10 yrs ago.

kencmcintyre on August 13, 2007 at 3:21 am

Here is a January 1945 ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on June 11, 2007 at 3:20 am

The front of the church is just plain stucco. They’ve gotten rid of any ornamentation that may have been there previously. The marquee gives the address as 4409 W. Adams.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 4, 2007 at 3:29 am

The Adams was one of four theatres with Egyptian style interiors (none had Egyptian exteriors) designed for the Bard Theatre Circuit by architect Lewis Smith in the 1920s. The Vista Theatre in East Hollywood was the smallest, and the only one of the four still largely intact.

The Garfield Theatre in Alhambra was about the same size as the Adams, having a large auditorium with no balcony. A successful suburban theatre operated for many years by the Edwards circuit, and remodeled more than once, it’s Egyptian decor was gone by the late 1950’s. The Garfield’s auditorium was demolished only a few years ago, but the commercial and apartment block in front of it remains standing.

The largest of the four was Bard’s Pasadena, still in operation but virtually unrecognizable as the Academy Theatre, a six-screen art house opened in the mid ‘80s. The Academy had retained its Egyptian style until the mid 1950s when it underwent an extensive remodeling inside and out which gave it an Art Moderne look. It continued to operate as a single-screen theatre until about 1984, by which time it was getting pretty run down.

The Bard circuit had a fifth Egyptian style theatre, Bard’s Glendale, later operated by Fox-West Coast as the Glen Theatre, but that one was designed by Pasadena architect Kenneth A. Gordon rather than Smith. The Glen closed in the 1950s and was converted into a bowling alley. The building still stands, but none of the original interior decoration remains.

GWaterman on February 4, 2007 at 1:01 am

This theatre must the the one on the northwest corner of Crenshaw and Adams. It’s visible from the front lobby of Phillips Barbecue.

hadabob on February 21, 2006 at 5:02 pm

The Bard’s Adams Street theatre interior auditorium was mostly intact until the late 90’s in original condition. Archeologist Lou Bard commissioned his flagship theatre which was influenced by his trips to Egypt. It was a full stage house, fully equipped with dressing rooms, prop cables, lighting systems, and all you would expect to find in a house of this nature.

William is right in that the Vista was the baby sister to the Adams Street Theatre.

The facades on both buildings were similar if not matched: The interior spaces were closely matched. The remodeling history was was not too extensive. The exterior, the facade, the marquee and outer lobby were streamlined – most likely in the late 40’s. The lobby, too, saw a similar streamlining. The restrooms had more of a late 30’s art deco feel to them. The only changes to the auditoruim was the addition of sound deadening blocks applied to the walls at some point. (I would say the early 30’s.) By the early 80’s the chandeliers had been removed but the auditorium was intact. The projection equipment was in the building – minus the heads. In the 60’s a large cinemascope screen was installed covering the proscenium, which eliminated the orchestra pit, and thereby reducing the seating. As I recall the original seating was 1325 – with no balcony.

By the early 80’s, the building was in disrepair: The roof leaked badly over the front offices, which destroyed the apartments/offices at the front of the building. The dressing rooms and plumbing were not really functional. The staircase to the orhestra pit was covered over and all organ equipment was gone. All seats had been long removed and a large raised platform was at the rear of the auditorium.

In the summer of 1981 there were a series of Punk Rock concerts staged in the building and it was called Bard’s Apollo. The owners had no operational permits whatsoever and the venue was closed after just half of a summer. Wielding their batons, the LAPD ended the final concert. Subsequently, a riot ensued which damaged neighboring shops.

One of the last times I saw her – in the late 90’s – she was empty and vandalised. Shortly thereafter the building was sold. The new owners gutted the interior and removed all decorative plaster and forever destroyed the magnificent interior, leaving no trace of its former movie palace glory.

William on January 17, 2006 at 4:20 pm

Like many of the theatres that were built in the mid 20’s around Southern California. Many of the major chains would modernize the exteriors and interior designs to draw their theatres to go with the changing times of the era. In some cases the exterior architecture treatments were changed like newer marquees and neon signage and other times architecture treatments were changed for earthquake safety (falling objects). And other times when theatres that were operated by another chain and later picked-up by another chain would remodel the theatre and reopen it as a all new theatre operated by the new chain. The Adams started out as Bard’s Adams and was later picked up by Fox West Coast Theatres till the 40’s. It spent most of it’s time operated by other operator during it’s life as a movie theatre. The Fox Adams Theatre (1100 seats) was built as a large neighborhood theatre in the over 1000 seat catagory. The Pantages (2812 seats) and Fox Wilshire (2295 seats) Theatres, where built as large First Run movie theatres and where far larger in all ways then the Fox Adams Theatre in size.

thomasl on June 20, 2005 at 1:30 pm

It is difficult to understand a connection between the West Adams Theatre, which is today a Hispanic church, and the elegant Vista Theater in East Hollywood. The Vista, which retains it’s beautiful Spanish-style architecture, is easily the handsomest remaining movie theater in Los Angeles. The former Bard’s West Adams is a plain, flat-faced former theater, with it’s marquee luckily still intact. All I can imagine is that somewhere during it’s long history, the West Adams was “modernized”, and thus stripped of it’s original identity. But the West Adams is still standing, a former theater that appears to be as enormous in size as, say, the Pantages and the FoxWilshire.

William on November 12, 2003 at 11:37 pm

The Fox Adams Theatre is located at 4413 W. Adams Blvd..

William on January 18, 2003 at 2:50 am

When this theatre opened it was known as the Bard’s West Adams Theatre. Then the Fox Adams during its Fox West Coast years. After World War II it became the Kabuki Theatre, Japanese language house. And most recently as the Apollo West, a Black cabaret theatre. Other theatres part of the Bard’s chain were the Vista, Academy, Glen, Garfield, Town, College and the Olympic.

BHousos on March 22, 2002 at 6:05 am

Another movie theater designed by L.A. Smith dating back to 1925.