Mason Theatre

127 S. Broadway,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Theater architect Clarence Blackall wrote an article about theaters for the February, 1908, issue of the architectural journal The Brickbuilder. One of the illustrations is a main floor plan and cross section (with the auditorium turned 90 degrees in the cross section) of Benjamin W. Marshalls' original plan of the Mason Opera House.

It can be seen on this web page (click the + sign in the toolbar at the bottom right of the page repeatedly to enlarge.)

Something I hadn’t known about the Mason Opera House is that the various levels were reached by inclines rather than stairs. That was a rarity in California theaters. As far as I know, the only other house in the Los Angeles area that had ramps to the balcony was the Raymond in Pasadena.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The Mason is on the right in this 1952 color photo:
http://tinyurl.com/y5azump

vokoban
vokoban on March 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

Here is a Sanborn map from 1906 showing the orientation of the Mason Opera House:

View link

estellamed
estellamed on March 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I have been told by my mother and 99-year old aunt that my uncle, Guillermo Gonzalez at one time sang opera at the Mason Theatre in Los Angeles. They said that his name was already appearing in posters at the time. I also found an old thick record where he sang “Payasso”. Would anyone know where I can search for any archives of old Opera Programs, Posters or anything that may have his name on them? I know he would have probably have performed at this theatre around the late 30’s or 40’s.

estellamed
estellamed on March 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I have been told by my mother and 99-year old aunt that my uncle, Guillermo Gonzalez at one time sang opera at the Mason Theatre in Los Angeles. They said that his name was already appearing in posters at the time. I also found an old thick record where he sang “Payasso”. Would anyone know where I can search for any archives of old Opera Programs, Posters or anything that may have his name on them? I know he would have probably have performed at this theatre around the late 30’s or 40’s.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 24, 2009 at 8:17 am

This is from the LA Times in February 1941:

Arthur Spitz, Hungarian-born showman, has taken a three-year lease on the Mason Theater on Broadway near First St. and will present operettas at popular prices, he announced yesterday. The impresario intends to hire prominent singers, a chorus of 24, a line of 16 girls and a 24-piece orchestra.

Adding further novelty, Spitz says, “If anyone gets hungry during the intermission, we can take care of that too. There will be a five-cent buffet at which one can get anything from a hamburger to roast turkey.”

The not-unfamilar procedure of putting attractions to a popular vote will be followed by the producer. The public will be allowed to choose from a list including “The Merry Widow”, “Bittersweet”, “Show Boat”, “Rose Marie” and “The Desert Song”, Spitz revealed. Two shows daily are scheduled, with an owl performance on Saturdays. Spitz’s publicity representative has labeled the enterprise “The Woolworth of the Operetta.”

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 29, 2009 at 5:48 pm

The 1947 project has a nice video clip on this page:
http://tinyurl.com/nq2jt8

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm

This is from the Arcadia Tribune in February 1932:

Fortune may return to this famous old theater on February 15 for on that evening “Shining Blackness” will open the Broadway theater with Lucille La Verne as the star, Helene Millard being among the supporting cast. The play is by Lulu Vollmer and Arthur Collins is the producer which means a fine production will be offered Los Angeles playgoers.

Miss La Verne has not been starred locally since “Sun Up” when she gave a memorable performance. It is to be hoped good fortune will perch on the banners of the old Mason Opera house, which has been closed for many weeks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm

I’ve just noticed ken mc’s comment on the Pacific Electric Theater above. All my knowledge of the place comes from a conversation overheard between two bus drivers in the 1960s. As our bus was pulling into the 6th and Main station one day, the driver was telling a much younger off-duty driver riding to work that, back in the Pacific Electric era, he had gone to union meetings held the old P.E. Theatre next to the station. Apparently Metropolitan Coach Lines and then the MTA had discontinued the policy of letting the union hold meetings there.

The primary function of the place seems to have been business related, in any case. I had no idea they’d ever shown movies there. From the description of the event, it sounds like the company let Mr. Ferenz four-wall the house. I wonder if that was done frequently?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 16, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Here is an item in the LA Times on 11/8/56:

Office workers in the Civic Center area would have sworn yesterday that an earthquake occurred about 3:30 p.m. Well, the earth did shake, but it wasn’t caused by turmoil beneath the earth’s surface.

The vibration was merely the result of a falling wall at the site of the old Mason Theater, being demolished on Broadway between 1st and 2nd streets. Workmen accomplished the task by attaching a steel cable to the top of the wall and then pulling. The wall buckled in the center and came tumbling down.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 8, 2009 at 9:59 am

This is excerpted from the LA Times, 4/28/41:

Nazi Film Show Barred
Downtown Theater Closed While Crowd Grows at Box Office

While a crowd milled around the box office, officials of the Pacific Electric Co. yesterday afternoon closed the Pacific Electric Theater, 627 S. Los Angeles St., where exhibition of a German-made motion picture was about to begin.

For Frank K. Ferenz, theater man who was presenting the picture “Dr. Koch”, it was the second German film closing in six months. Last October 13, managers of the Mason Theater, 127 S. Broadway, halted a performance of a German-made picture Ferenz was exhibiting. Ferenz suibsequently lost an $18,000 damage suit against the holders of the theater’s master lease. Superior Court Judge Clement L. Shinn ruled that German-made motion pictures fomented hatred, criticism and emnity.

As the throng awaiting entrance to the Pacific Electric Theater grew, police were called, but no disturbances were reported. Neal B. Vickrey, manager of the Pacific Electric club, who had entered into an agreement to rent the theater to Ferenz every week-end, said it is probable that no more such films by Ferenz will be presented at the theater.

cperryde
cperryde on December 22, 2008 at 9:41 am

Found in a swapmeet box, an original 1938 mason opera house program “Cavalleria Rusticana y Payasos”

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Here is a January 1953 ad from the LA Times:
http://tinyurl.com/49l7ry

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 23, 2008 at 7:06 pm

An ad for the Mason can be seen towards the bottom of this LA Times page of February 1947. The same film was playing at the California on Main Street:
http://tinyurl.com/45ul67

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 25, 2008 at 6:48 am

The 1945 photo is from the LA Public Library database. Go to www.lapl.org

romeoguzman
romeoguzman on July 24, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Gordon,
I am graduate student and would love to talk to you about the movies/performances at the Mason theater. PLease let me know if this is possible.
romeo guzman

Ken Mc, where is the Vaudeville 1945 photograph from? Does it belong to an archive?

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm

This is a 1939 photo. The building at approximately 107 S. Broadway looks like a theater, but it could be a number of things. It would have been a few doors north of the Mason.
http://tinyurl.com/5mg8h4

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

The URLs of the photos in UCLA’s Times collection got changed. That’s the problem with linking to other sites. I’ve got orphaned links all over the place.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 25, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Here is a repost of my May 2007 photo:
http://tinyurl.com/68bzne

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 13, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Interesting that the state building on First and Broadway that replaced the Mason has now been razed as well, for construction of something large. Tempus fugit.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 6, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Here is an excerpted article from the LA Times dated 12/21/54:

Historic Mason Opera House to Come Down

Passing of a famous Los Angeles landmark was revealed yesterday with the announcement that the Mason Opera House at 127 S. Broadway will be torn down. Frank Fouce, owner of the theater, said it has been sold to the state. He said the state had acquired title to a major portion of the block for expansion of the Civic Center.

The Mason’s star began to fade in the early 20s, when the Biltmore theater became the leading legitimate theater. In recent years the Mason has been a Mexican film theater. Final presentation before the state takes possession will be the showing of a Mexican film “Pueblerina”, starring Columba Dominguez.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 3, 2007 at 4:24 pm

Known as Erlanger’s Mason in 1926.