Glockner's Automatic Theatre

262 S. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Thomas L. Tally opened his ‘Phonograph and Vitascope Parlour’, 311 South Spring Street in 1896. It was such a success that he re-located to larger premises at 338 South Spring Street in 1900. (one of these buildings was the Ramona Hotel, but I am not sure which).

In April 1902 Talley’s Electric Theatre (sometimes known as Tally’s All Electric Theatre) opened. It is probably the first building ever erected for the specific purpose of showing motion pictures and boasted the fact that it was the first exclusive "Motion Picture Theatre" in America. Advertised as ‘The Electric Theatre…262 South Main Street…New Place of Amusement…High Class Moving Picture Entertainment…Especially for Ladies and Children…See "The Capture of the Biddle Brothers" and "New York in a Blizzard"…Many other exciting scenes….Hour’s of Amusement and Genuine Fun….7.30 PM to 10.30 PM. The first nights business was so good that he added a Matinee for Children the following day. Ten days later the marquee was reading "A Vaudeville of Motion Pictures". It ran as the Electric Theatre until 15th June 1903. Tally then renamed it Lyric Theatre which re-opened on 18th July 1903 with 'Refined Vaudeville…New Moving Pictures. Continuous Performance. Admission 10cents.

In 1910 it is advertised as Glockner’s Automatic Theatre, 262 S. Main Street (opposite Levy’s) offering ‘one hour of clean entertainment’ for 5 Cents. Only the Best Association Pictures Exhibited. Every day continuous beginning at 12.00 noon. World’s feature pictures. America’s finest music by $5,000 Pianorchestra, $1,200 Harp and other instruments.

It had closed by 1930 (probably much before) but it is noted that the building was still existing in 1998.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 7:59 pm

This almost sounds like one of us….
(Jan. 5, 1949)
May I call to your notice a two-story brick building at 262 S. Main St., close to the northeast corner of 3rd and Main. The ground floor has been remodeled to house several stores. Between them a narrow stairway ascends to the second floor which is occupied by the “Veterans' Hotel.” The faded baroque facade of brick is ornamented with scrolls and lions' heads. But what i want to know is-what does it mean when at the second-floor level the masonry says:
Wm. Glockner’s Automatic Theater.
This suggests something which could have come between variety and movies. I cannot verify this for nothing remains of the theater. There is no clue, neither footprints in the cement sidewalk, nor dainty slippers suitable for drinking champagne, nor black lace drawers to dance the can-can in. Perhaps had I searched for an alley and a stage door, I should have learned something. Can some Times reader explain this mystery?
STEWART McKEE, Los Angeles.

vokoban on November 30, 2007 at 10:21 am

Here is something from the classifieds:
(April 5, 1902)
FOR SALE-BUY SOMETHING TO MAKE money with, selling out a prices to please anyone, phonographs, kinetoscopes, picture machines, projectoscopes, electric fans, electric motors, reostat, fine oak record cabinet; sheet music 5 cents per copy. TALLY’S, 262 S. Main st.

kencmcintyre on March 29, 2008 at 12:26 am

Everything on this side of the block between the cathedral and 3rd Street has been bulldozed.

reluctantpopstar on May 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm

As the site of the first motion picture theater, this location should definitely be hailed as a landmark.

A new garage for the LAPD motorpool is being built on the site. As a concession to the neighborhood residents, some retail stores are being placed on the street front. A nice brass plaque commemorating the location’s history would fit nicely on the building.

Right now, it’s just a broken old sidewalk. Recognition of the site’s history would add more to the neighborhood, maybe even more business for the Imaginasian Center across the street.

reluctantpopstar on May 11, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Here’s a photo of a 1908 LA city directory. This was posted by another user in the discussion of the Optic Theater. Here, the Lyric Theater is listed, so it was already going by the Lyric at that date, and had not yet become Glockner’s. Didn’t seem to be Talley’s Electric Theater for very long.

View link

HughMN on February 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm

The Electric Theater had its name changed to the Lyric when they added “refined vaudeville” acts to augment the motion pictures. An LA Times advertisement from July 20, 1903 lists the new name, with T.L. Tally identified as manager. According to some sources Tally sold his theater around this time and spent the next year on the road, presenting a print of “The Great Train Robbery” around the country. So the Electric appears to have been exclusively a motion picture theater for a little over a year, from on or about April 17, 1902 until on or about July 20, 1903.

tovangar2 on October 6, 2015 at 8:25 pm

The LA Department of Building and Safety’s permits are now online One can search by address. There is a permit for a “motion picture theater” dated March 10, 1910 by architect Albert C Martin for owners “Kaiser, [indistinct] and Tally. The address given is 266-268 S Main. The dimensions were 30' X 140'

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 6, 2015 at 9:12 pm

tovangar2: The 1910 project at 266 S. Main was the Liberty Theatre.

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