Estella Theater

515 N. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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So far, all know about this theater is that it is listed in Paramount movie advertisements for 1923 at 515 N. Main Street in Los Angeles.

Contributed by jeff bridges

Recent comments (view all 36 comments)

suisman
suisman on August 22, 2007 at 3:43 am

our gratitude for this posting. you have helped solve the mystery that our design team has been working on for several months, which is to confirm the existence and nail down the name of a cinema in the building directly north of the historic Plaza House building (aka Garnier Block, not to be confused with the Pco Garnier Block) at 507 North Main. Sanborn maps of Los Angeles from 1928 show a “moving pictures” label on the plan view of the building, and we have found the same photos from the LA Public Library giving us a general shape of the building. but your retrieval of the review from the LA Times establishing not only the name but specific activities of the theater is enormously helpful. we’re prepared to dig further on this – do you have any suggestions of where to look? for example, where are the Parmamount movie advertisements cite at the top of the entry to be found? thanks…

suisman
suisman on August 22, 2007 at 3:57 am

some additional thoughts. the Vickrey Brunswig building, which is 501 N. Main, had three storefronts, which would have been 501, 503, 505. The Plaza Building, listed as 507, also had three shops – 507, 509, 511. Since the theater building (next in line) occupied what had been previously been two or three shops (the maps are a bit ambiguous) it could have been variously listed as 513, 515, or 517. La Esperanza Bakery was, we believe, in the Plaza House (e.g. 511 ½), therefore next to the theater building, not in it. It’s fascinating that vokoban found the theater listed in 1915 and 1920 as the Metropolitan, and then in 1923, 1925, and 1930 as the Estella. This would jive with the growing Mexican immigrant population in the neighborhood in the 20’s ( as opposed to the old Californio families), which might well have led to the conversion of the name, and to Spanish-language from English-language movies. As for the Teatro Hidalgo confusion, if it was listed at any point in the 500 block of North Main, that’s a puzzler. Perhaps the Hidalgo, which was surely two blocks further south in the 300 block (in a two story building, from the photos) closed and the Estella took over its more prestigious name?

vokoban
vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 4:36 am

ladouglas…if you send me your email I’ll send you a PDF overlay with the 1906 Sanborn on top of a current satellite image…it might clear up some confusion about this area. My email is
I can also send you the PDF of the Paramount listing from 1923 showing the Estella.
Is there evidence of a Teatro Hidalgo in the 500’s? I must have missed that. I just thought that at first we thought it was the same as the Estella but then the 373 address kept showing up for Hidalgo. The building listed in 1906 as ‘Garnier Block’ contains 507, 509, 511 & 511 ½. I assume that’s the building that I now see with no roof when I go by there. The next building to the north contains 513 & 513 ½.

vokoban
vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 4:52 am

If you’re in the Garnier block building and feel any strange presence, it might be old John McKay:
LA Times
(Feb 4, 1902)
John H. McKay, a carpenter, 40 years of age, was found dead in his room at a lodging-house, No. 511 ½ North Main street, at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. An open gas jet and the strong odor of illuminating gas showed the cause of his death. There is nothing, however, to indicate that the man committed suicide; but from information furnished the deputy Coroner it appears that he was the victim of a dangerous practice of turning the gas off and on at the meter at times which suited the pleasure of his landlady, who hoped to economize in her gas bills.

vokoban
vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 6:51 am

I think Joe Vogel said somewhere that he used to eat at the bakery. Here’s a listing from the Los Angeles Street Address Directory, 1956, May,pg. 468:

507 N Main La Esperanza Bakery & Restaurant MI-3532
511 ½ N Main Rm 212 Sheriff’s Reserve MA 5-8621

vokoban
vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 7:10 am

I don’t know if this link will work but it is a reverse type directory by address of Main street from 1956. If you hit the next page button it will continue to South Main:

View link

vokoban
vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 8:33 am

ladouglas has access to a 1928 Sanborn of the Plaza area and apparently 513 & 515 appear as one building that says ‘moving pictures’. That would explain the jumping around of the entrance and leads me to believe that 513 wasn’t a misprint.

dgarcia
dgarcia on March 20, 2009 at 3:38 am

Ken MC,

Thank you for posting such fascinating information! I’m researching the history of Mexican movie theatres. Does “Main Street: A Street of a Thousand Wonders” have any additional information on the various Mexican theatres? And, in which book on Mexican Los Angeles did you find the information on the theatres? Thanks!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 20, 2009 at 6:42 am

That article on Main Street was in the LA Times in 1930. If you have an LA library card, you can access the Times archives online. I don’t have a specific date in 1930 for the article, though.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm

The Metropolitan Theatre was listed at 513 N. Main Street in the 1911 city directory. In 1909, 513 was the address of a photography studio and 515 of a fruit vendor and a barber shop.

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