Quinn's Superba Theatre

518 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Quinn's Superba Theatre, 1914

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Quinn’s Superba Theatre was located on the site where the Roxie Theatre is today on S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.

Quinn’s Superba Theatre was next to the Cameo Theatre (formerly Clune’s Broadway Theatre) and the Pantages Theatre (later Arcade Theatre).

It was razed to make way for the Art Deco style Roxie Theatre which was the last theater built on S. Broadway, opening November 25, 1931.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

vokoban
vokoban on December 15, 2005 at 7:33 pm

Here’s some information about this theater from the LA Times:

(Sep. 11, 1915)
SUPERBA PASSES INTO CONTROL OF QUINN, PIONEER MOTION-PICTURE MAN OF PACIFIC COAST
One of the important realty deals of the month involving Broadway property resulted yesterday in J.A. Quinn, pioneer motion-picture man of the Pacific Coast, securing the Superba Theater, formerly known as Quinn’s Superba Theater, the transfer to take place immediately.
Mr. Quinn built the Superba Theater about a year ago and embodied in it all details of convenience and beauty. Several months ago a local syndicate bought the theater and he retired. Unable to keep out of the theatrical business, however, he began negotiations for his former theater last week, which resulted in the consumation of the deal yesterday. Mr. Quinn will resume active ownership on Monday offering the six-reel feature, “The Blindness of Virtue”.

(Sep. 9, 1917)
With the coming of the fall and winter season, the Superba Theater management is announcing a radical change in policy, which means that Broadway, Los Angeles, will get the big photoplay features within a few days after Broadway, New York.

(Dec. 10, 1922)
When the hands of Los Angeles clocks reach the hour of eleven tomorrow night the Superba Theater will be a matter of history.
For, following the final showing tomorrow evening of Herbert Rawlinson’s latest Universal attraction, “One Wonderful Night,” the keys to the popular Fifth-and-Broadway flicker emporium will be turned over to John Tait, San Francisco restaurateur, who has purchased the lease from the Universal Pictures Corporation.
The Superba Theater is one of the familiar landmarks of the local Rialto. In the early days of Los Angeles theatricals the Superba was considered the leading house of the city. First runs on some of the biggest pictures ever produced have been given at the Superba, and almost from the day the doors of the edifice were thrown open to the public it has been a paying propostition.

(March 29, 1923)
All worth-while enterprises sooner or later find their way to Los Angeles, and it remained for John Tait, well-known restaurateur of San Francisco, to come here to open the first “coffee shop,” and institution that has become decidely popular in the East and North.
The formal opening of the new eating place, which replaces the old Superba Thater, torn out several months ago, will take place on Saturday morning, and the many friends of the former San Francisco cafe man, who has now become and Angeleno, are planning a special pre-Easter breakfast at the “Coffee Shop.”

(June 14, 1931)
BUILDING COMING DOWN $130,000.00 RESTAURANT EQUIPMENT
Tait’s Coffee Shop
518 South Broadway, Los Angeles
All to be sold piece or in lots to suit those prestent, without limit or reserve and to be removed from premises immediately after. Tait’s is one of the largest restaurants in Souther California. You will find in this sale almost every kind of furnishing and equipment known in an up-to-date cafe-including in this sale large store room full of groceries!-With lot of case goods.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 18, 2007 at 6:36 pm

So the coffee shop was only around for eight years? And then replaced by tbe Roxie?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 8, 2007 at 4:40 pm

A Robert-Morton theater organ was installed in the Superba Theater in 1916. Note: California Organ Co. nameplate.

nickb
nickb on April 7, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Some more wayposts from the Los Angeles Times:

July 31 1914: ‘Quinn’s Superba, the latest pretentious motion picture of Los Angeles, had its formal opening last night. The Superba was constructed at much expense, the management saying that almost $100,00 was spent before the theater could open. There are 6000 electric bulbs. In the theater proper they are obscured. The ceiling presents something unique in frescoing. The exits are ample, and the entrance presents electric bulbs shining behind onyx and marble.’

Aug 2 1914: ‘Indications are that Quinn’s Superba, which had its formal opening Thursday evening, will take its place as one of the popular motion picture palaces of Los Angeles… The Superba has one of the most beautiful theater interiors in the city, and the exterior is a blaze of light.’

Nov 8 1914: Quinn announces he has secured the rights to show Paramount Pictures hereafter.

Nov 29 1915: THEATER RUNS ALL NIGHT
‘What the management of Quinn’s Superba Theater declare to be a world’s record in the moving-picture business was set yesterday morning when, at 9 o’clock, the picture house completed a twenty-four-hour continuous run of its show. In that time thirteen performances were given each lasting a little less than two hours, and approximately 12,000 persons were admitted. At 3 o’clock in the morning, according to the management, all the seats were sold. The 5 o’clock attendance was lighter.’

May 31 1919: Carl Laemmle takes personal charge of the Superba to celebrate Universal’s seventh birthday.

Aug 16 1921: SHORT SKIRT HOOPLA AT SUPERBA
‘Here girls, here’s your chance at a prize. Manager James W Anderson of the Superba Theater, announces offering a prize for the “shortest skirt” worn at his theater Wednesday. There is but one stipulation, and that is that the women seeking to qualify for the prize must be between 19 and 55 years of age. Measurements will be taken in the lobby of the theater, and all entrants to the contest need but to signify the fact at the box office.
‘Gladys Walton in Short Skirts, this week’s attraction at the Superba is the incentive for the contest.’

The 1922 obituary notice in the house says that Laemmle’s Universal had purchased it six years previously. The Universal people refused to answer rumors that they had sold it to the coffee shop man.

nickb
nickb on April 19, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Here’s the Superba-as-plain-Superba after it was no longer Quinn’s:
View link

And here’s its final incarnation as Tait’s coffee house:
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 3, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Nick’s second link doesn’t work anymore. Here’s the photo showing Tait’s Coffee House. This photo was taken during the period when the Pantages had become Dalton’s Theatre.

drb
drb on October 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

The Historic Los Angles Theaters site makes a good point. The Roxie’s stagehouse is rather unusual for a 1931 theater. Is it possible that some or all of the shell of the original Superba house was kept intact, with only the front building demolished and most of the theater building itself only gutted and renovated, and is still existing today as part of the Roxie? Is there any way to know?

vokoban
vokoban on October 22, 2008 at 12:19 pm

This is about the Roxie but it still isn’t clear about the construction, but the cost seems a lot for a refurbished building:

LA Times, June 21, 1931:

Constuction work on a theater and store building at 516 South Broadway (maybe the address was changed later) began last week, the playhouse to be known as the Roxie and the building to contain four storerooms. The cost is estimated at $100,000.
Announcement of the project was made by G.A. Metzger and Harry Srere, who, with associates, are the lessees. The contract for construction has been awarded the J.M. Cooper Company. G.Y. Ridenbaugh of the Charles G. Andrews Company, realty broker, and P.L. corrigan represented the lessor and lessees.
The structure will have a frontage on North Broadway of eighty-one feet. The depth of the property is in excess of 165 feet. The theater will have a seating capacity of 1600.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm

The October 3, 1914, issue of The Moving Picture World had an effusive description of Quinn’s Superba Theatre:

“QUINN’S SUPERBA, LOS ANGELES, CAL.

“IT is quite within the bounds of reason to say that in the past year there is no other city in the world that has gone ahead in motion picture theater construction as rapidly as Los Angeles. A short twelve months ago the average theater manager was well satisfied with a modest interior and an exterior outlined with lights placed at intervals of a foot or more and a fair sized electric sign. A good exemplification of what the public now demands is the new picture palace erected on Broadway, near Fifth, by J. A. Quinn, and called Quinn’s Superba.

“Mr. Quinn is a Los Angeles manager of recognized ability and was among the first to employ, to the exclusion of all others systems, the indirect lighting plan that enhances the beauty of Quinn’s Superba; he has also been highly complimented in having worked out the elaborate light decorations on the facade which make this beautiful edifice stand out. Mr. Quinn is in favor of making Los Angeles preeminently the ‘City of Lights,’ and he is certainly doing his share towards carrying out his favorite hobby. The mammoth electric working sign which surmounts the three-story structure is among the largest used by any theater in the west. On each side of the name is a unicorn of heroic proportion darting a fiery tongue at his companion; ribbons of light steam over the front of the building, which is carried out in the rennaissance style of architecture, in colors of cream and white. A massive cornice and frieze with theatrical figures modeled therein gives an appropriate touch to the whole. The markee is a solid mass of lights, art glass and copper.

“The lobby, foyer and auditorium are carried out in the classic style of architecture. The woodwork of the foyer is selected mahogany of beautiful grain, and the walls are paneled with large beveled plate mirrors. The floor is carpeted in deep red Wilton velvet.

“In the auditorium the walls and ceiling are held in soft light green tones, trimmed with cream and gray effects and high-lighted in orange. The sounding cove over the proscenium arch has a beautiful mural painting by a well-known local artist. This cove, aside from its decorative effect, assures such perfect accoustic properties that the faintest whisper from the proscenium area can be distinctly heard in any part of the house. On each side of the proscenium and midway between the footlight line and the cornice, are balconies with draped French windows, adaptable for singing-specialties. The stage itself is well equipped in spite of the fact that it is a miniature one.

“The floor of the auditorium is bowled and the seats are arranged in circular form. The carpets, luxurious upholstered leather opera chairs, silk velour drapes and velvet stage curtains are of a deep red. An efficient ventilating system assures the air’s changing completely every few moments, it being estimated that there is supplied thirty cubic feet of fresh air to each person, each minute, allowing for a capacity audience at all times.

“The Superba is using the best available pictures and the equipment for its proper projection is unsurpassed.

“Their soloists provide high-class musical numbers on each program and an orchestra of twelve pieces under the direction of Miss Mae Gates plays accompaniments for both pictures and the vocal numbers.”

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