Raymond Theatre

129 N. Raymond Avenue,
Pasadena, CA 91103

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Nesmith on August 21, 2016 at 5:57 pm

A little more information about this theater: As it was built as a Vaudville Theater, it was necessitated that it accommodate the many actors of the shows. Below the stage was a long corridor with dressing rooms running along each side. In 1972 these rooms were relegated to storage. One of the rooms contained numerous cardboard barrels, each marked as “Civil Defense” supplies (relics of the peak of the Cold War). Inside these abandoned and very outdated containers were a “prepper’s” dream. Food, medical supplies and more. I wonder what ever came of these?

In the rafters above the stage (yes, I climbed up there) were elements of the massive pipe organ. This organ could play much more than just a typical organ. It could play the snare and bass drums, horns of numerous types and even bird calls/chirping. There were also stringed instruments that could be played via the keyboard. During the time I worked at this theater, there was an organist that came in every Sunday morning and “exercised” it just to keep it from falling into disrepair from lack of use. My favorite piece he would play was J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. While exercising the organ, he always included playing each of the “rafter” instruments. Most of which were out of tune but still functional. The bird chirps sounded so real.

It really is a crime and shame that all of this is lost from the world. The Lowes Crown Theater (as I knew it) was a most incredible and precious piece of Americana. It should have been declared a National Treasure!

Nesmith on August 21, 2016 at 5:30 pm

While in High School, in 1972, I worked at this theater as an Usher, then Doorman and then getting promoted to Assistant Manager. At that time it was a part of the Lowes chain of movie theaters. This is a fact that has been omitted from the above narrative. While working there, I met a girl. She worked behind the candy counter and I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen (in all of my many seventeen years). I married that girl later that year, exactly one week after my eighteenth birthday. By then, I was a Private First Class in the United States Marine Corps with prospects of shipping out to Vietnam. It saddens me to know that this theater has been reduced to a ruin. Here in 2016, 44 years later, I still think that “Candy Girl” is the most beautiful girl/woman I have ever seen. She sits next to me as I write this.

marion142 on August 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Gene Buchanan: sounds like his pre-mature destruction of an historic theater was all for naught. It’s sad, the Raymond was a beautiful theater.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm

It still looks like they haven’t sold the condos, after pushing so hard to destroy the theatre. Ha ha. Nicely done morons.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 29, 2010 at 12:17 am

Doesn’t look like things are going so well, especially if you consider that they may be listing units as sold when they have not been (to try and keep the place from looking like a grave yard):


Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

More on the conversion:


As much as you may hate the outcome, you do have to have respect for a firm that can carry out selective demolition without completely destroying an old building. It looks like a very surgical operation.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 28, 2010 at 11:07 am

Second article from the bottom is on the Raymond, with a photo taken during the recent conversion:


Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on June 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

Here is an article which does a good job of describing the renovation project:

View link

It sounds like a really bad retrofit to me, and by that I mean from a business standpoint. I’m not sure why the devlopers fought so long and hard for this particular building. There must be many other sites where they could have accomplished the same goals.

TLSLOEWS on May 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Condo, condos,condos,can,t they build them somewhere else?

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Are they done with the stupid condos yet? Seems like this has been going on forever.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 12, 2009 at 12:56 am

The 1940 remodeling after which the Raymond Theatre became the Crown Theatre was featured in Boxoffice Magazine, May 22, 1948. There are small before and after photos of the lobby and auditorium, though the scan is a bit fuzzy.

kencmcintyre on July 20, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Here is a January 1974 ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on May 12, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Here is a June 1960 ad from the Pasadena Independent:

kencmcintyre on January 23, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Here is part of an LA Times article dated 10/21/90:

The Raymond Theatre-which has been dark and neglected since January-now rings with the sound of workers' hammers, drills and saws. Sunlight streams through doors thrown wide open and portable spotlights shine everywhere. The 69-year-old historical structure is being reborn.Under new owner Gary Folgner, crews have been working for the past three months, frantically readying the building for a Nov. 16 reopening concert. The frenzied work fulfills a 2-year-old city dream: preservation of the onetime vaudeville house and former movie theater as a premier entertainment venue in Pasadena.

“Everything has come together,” said Claire Bogaard, executive director of Pasadena Heritage, an activist preservation group. “We’re just thrilled.” Bogaard said some in Pasadena had feared that Folgner would slap a coat of paint on the Raymond and quickly start booking the rock, country and pop acts that perform at his other two clubs. Folgner is owner of the Coach House nightclub in San Juan Capistrano and the Ventura Theatre in Ventura. Instead, Folgner “seems to be very serious and very serious about doing it right,” Bogaard said of the preservation work. “He’s going to put the windows back, the original marquee back and the original marquee ceiling.” Ed Razor, Folgner’s project manager for the theater, estimated the restoration will cost $1.5 million. It will continue after the theater opens, perhaps taking years to complete.

It includes uncovering three front windows plastered over years ago and dismantling the late-1940s marquee to uncover the still-intact 1921 marquee. Construction of a three-story commercial building on the parking lot next door also is planned, but that, like the major restoration work, is months away. For now, Folgner wants to replicate the original, classic beaux-arts style of the interior and begin booking concerts and renting the hall. Professional groups, such as ballet companies and other performance groups, could use the Raymond when they can’t obtain dates at the Civic Auditorium, can’t fill the Ambassador Auditorium and don’t want to use the area’s college auditoriums, Razor said. “This is the only real hall available for rent in Pasadena,” he said. “It’s an elegant setting. The hall fills a huge gap.”

Designed by J. Cyril Bennett, architect of Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium and scores of buildings along Colorado Boulevard, the 1,800-seat Raymond opened in 1921 as a vaudeville house. In the 1930s, it was converted to a movie theater. In 1948, it was remodeled as the Crown Theater and lost many of its beaux-arts architectural features to modernization. Marc Perkins bought the Raymond in 1978 and dubbed it Perkins Palace. Top-name pop acts like Roberta Flack and Air Supply played there, followed later by heavy-metal rock bands.

After it closed four years ago, the Raymond became a hulking money loser with a leaky roof and pigeons in the rafters. In January, vandals broke in and tore out all of the building’s copper electrical wiring. Perkins soured on concert producing and, with partner Gene Buchanan, sought to convert the Raymond to office space. But preservationists rallied and city officials persuaded Perkins and Buchanan to delay their plans while a $29,800 economic study was completed on the theater. The study paid off when Folgner, a buyer willing to pay the reported $2.8-million asking price and keep the Raymond operating as a theater, was found. Before escrow closed on the purchase, Folgner sent crews to begin work: patching holes in the floor, putting new upholstery on the seats, installing missing wiring and replastering and repainting the walls.

“Once you spend a lot of time in here, you fall in with it,” Razor said. “This is a place where magic happens. It may not look like it now, but it will happen.”

kencmcintyre on November 13, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Crime in July 1925, from the LA Times:

PASADENA, July 27-Confessions signed by Roy Courser and Frank Williams, burglar alarm experts, charged with robbing the Raymond Theater of $800, revealed exactly how the daring job was completed. Courser attended the the last show of the theater on the night it was robbed. He succeeded in hiding himself in the theater until after all the patrons and employees had left.

His pal, Williams, was then admitted through the front door and the pair spent the remainder of the night breaking open the huge theater safe which held the ticket sales of the day.

Courser and Williams are the electricians who installed the burglar alarm system in the Raymond Theater more than a year ago. Their technical knowledge of the system afforded them protection, for although they wandered all over the building and broke the stong box open with a crowbar, not once did the alarm sound.

Both prisoners deny they are the ones who robbed the Star-News newspaper office safe the week previous.

RobertR on September 22, 2008 at 5:43 am

What a travesty we lost this theatre :(

kencmcintyre on September 21, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Here is a July 1958 ad from the Pasadena Independent:

kencmcintyre on August 16, 2008 at 1:22 pm

I think the function change to housing/retail is a little premature, as they haven’t finished the renovation yet.

Tahoe61 on May 2, 2008 at 7:40 pm

P.S. — interesting that your posting of Apr 5 is 87 years to the date since it opened!

Tahoe61 on May 2, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Thank you, “ken mc”, for the incredible photos, especially the interior. My second “date” was there (“Crown Theatre” in 1956).