La Paloma Theatre

471 South Coast Highway 101,
Encinitas, CA 92024

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La Paloma Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1927/1928 by Frank E. Brown as a silent movie house with 540 seats in orchestra and a small balcony levels. The architect was Edward J. Baum. It was formally opened on February 11, 1928 with a showing of the first ‘talking’ motion picture in the San Dieguito area “The Cohens and Kelleys in Paris”. The gala event was attended by Hollywood starlet and soon to be Academy Award winner Mary Pickford. It has been rumored that she rode her bicycle all the way to La Paloma Theatre from the Fairbanks Ranch for the event. Charlie Chaplin once performed here.

The La Paloma(The Dove) Theatre was one of the first to show ‘Talkies’. Talking pictures premiered in 1927 with the Warner Bros. film “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson. Making the transition from silent pictures to ‘talkies’ didn’t happen overnight, so the La Paloma Theatre was also equipped with a beautiful pipe organ, a standard piece of equipment during the Silent era. Films in the early days of motion pictures were usually preceded by a vaudeville stage act, and La Palmoa Theatre was well suited for that.

The La Paloma Theatre is currently used for live performances, and over the years many performers have graced the stage of the La Paloma Theatre. Musical artists as diverse as Loreena McKennitt, Nickel Creek, Ralph Stanley, Jerry Garcia and Eddie Vedder. There are still midnight perfomances of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” movie on Fridays. Regular screenings of independent movies are another part of the programming.

The La Paloma Theatre is a big part of Encinita, and hosts many community and City functions throughout the year.

Contributed by Chad, JFloyd Waggaman

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Brocktune
Brocktune on September 20, 2006 at 11:44 pm

the RHPS they do is the film, with performers as well. The website of the troupe that handles the perfoming side of things can be found at http://www.crazedimaginations.net

they also did a one-off of Monty Python and the Holy Grail last year. it was much cooler than i would have thought, and would gladly go again.

GWaterman
GWaterman on January 27, 2007 at 11:13 pm

The La Paloma was well known in the 70’s as a place to watch surf films. Here’s an article that gives a glimpse of the experience:

View link

“First opened in 1928, La Paloma has been showing new and old surfing movies at least since the early ‘70s. The combination of the Spanish-style motif, ruddy drapes and carpet, old-fashioned balcony and the smell of popcorn mixed with coconut suntan oil, the ambience transports you back in time.

“Some radical paganism went on there,” said Scott Bass, a surfer who patronized La Paloma beginning with his teen years.

He recalled the voluptuous pleasure of watching movies while reclining on one of the massive sofas that once graced the side aisles. Various shenanigans â€" glass bottles rolling down the aisle, for instance â€" occurred while surf footage flickered on the screen. Today, the sofas are gone, replaced by proper theater seats.

“It’s one of those buildings that, man, if the walls could talk — “ said Bass, online editor for Surfer magazine.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 7, 2007 at 12:19 am

I drove by the theater the other day. They were showing “Children of Men”, which is a first run film, I believe. The theater looked to be in good shape.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 23, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Advertised at 471 First Street in 1979.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 3, 2008 at 3:44 am

Here is a photo, circa early 1930s. A Laurel and Hardy film is playing, but the title of the film is not given:
http://tinyurl.com/2nfjw4

slmsusan
slmsusan on October 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

I had a friend who was the “Crypt Keeper” for the theater in the 70’s and lived in the basement. His name is Mark Devries and was an artist at the Oracle Newspaper in the Haight. Where are you Mark? Miss your face. Susan

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on January 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm

While it’s nice that La Paloma remains one of only two single-screeners still operating in San Diego, every time I go to see a movie here it’s always discouraging to see how poor the presentation is. You’ll rarely ever see a film here without multiple scratches, and there’ll usually be at least one other problem. For instance, when I saw “Where the Wild Things Are” last weekend, the center channel speaker buzzed loudly, completely distorting the dialogue, for the entire time Projector 1 was running. Thankfully, when the film changed over to Projector 2, the problem ended, but that was after 45 minutes and multiple audience complaints.

And for first-run prices ($7 matinee / $9 evening) to see second-run films with grindhouse-quality projection? Psssh. The only reason to continue patronizing the place is because we keep history alive by doing so. Then again, none of this is news. I’ve been seeing movies here for seven years and only during special screenings and first-run surf films is the presentation ever acceptable.

They seem to be doing well now compared to past times. “The Hangover” was a major hit this summer here, even warranting a midnight show on the 4th of July. And “Rocky” continues to draw every week. So why can’t they invest some more time and money in the booth?

hownowbrownpaul
hownowbrownpaul on May 13, 2011 at 2:41 am

As part of a film studies class taken at El Camino High School in August 1990, I went on a field trip to La Paloma to see a movie (Disney’s “The Jungle Book”) and tour the theater. Some things I remember from the tour: viewing the dressing room that lies behind/beneath the stage, and walking up to the projection booth. The tour guide told our group that when the theater first opened a drunk man fell from the balcony and died, and that his ghost supposedly still haunts the place. Has anyone heard this story before? It may have been fabricated for the amusement of our little group of high school students.

Danny Baldwin
Danny Baldwin on May 13, 2011 at 5:53 am

Yep, that is indeed the story.

LebowskiT1000
LebowskiT1000 on July 9, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Here’s a cool newspaper clipping showing all the movies playing in the general area back in 1975.

Newspaper Clipping

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