Kim Sing Theatre

722 N. Figueroa Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2013 at 7:29 pm

This theater had a long history before the neighborhood became predominantly Chinese, and had no connection to Chinatown for its first few decades. In 1926, Chinatown was still a small enclave lying mostly east of Alameda Street where Union Station was later built, but extending west to Los Angeles Street at the Plaza. In the 1930s and 1940s, China City along North Spring and New High Streets and New Chinatown along North Broadway and North Hill Street were developed

Even as late as the beginning of the 1960s the neighborhood around this theater was predominantly Mexican American, but it had previously housed a mixture of various European ethnic groups. Ethnic Chinese became the dominant group in the neighborhood after immigration restrictions were relaxed in 1965, and the Asian American population of California began to expand rapidly for the first time since the 19th century.

As the Alpine Theatre and Carmen Theatre, this house was always listed in the moving picture theaters section of the city directories. It had no fly tower, so any live performances would have been limited in scope. Many neighborhood theaters did have small stages suitable for occasional live performances, and this theater probably had one, but I’m sure that vaudeville was never a regular feature of the house. It was a neighborhood movie house, like hundreds of others throughout the city.

hdtv267
hdtv267 on June 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

watching the show that aired- he also has another business in there, a gym with full size competition room. The owner said it was a storage room.

He made a point to keep the marquee as to hold the history of the building.

The narrator said that this was built in 1926, serving as movie theatre, vaudeville house and gathering place for the residents of Chinatown.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 7, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I’m sure this is the same house that was listed as the Alpine Theatre, 834 Alpine Street, in the Moving Picture Theatres section of the 1926 city directory, and at 826 Alpine Street in the 1929 city directory. It’s back at 834 Alpine in the 1936 and 1938 directories. In 1939, the Alpine Theatre is gone and the first listing for the Carmen Theatre at 722 N. Figueroa Street appears. No theaters are listed under any name at either address in the 1927 or 1932 directories.

The February 29, 1936, issue of Motion Picture Herald said that D. F. Lyon was reopening the Alpine Theatre in Los Angeles, which had been closed for some time. The place apparently closed and reopened multiple times. I remember seeing this theater in the early 1960s, but I can’t remember if it was open or closed, nor can I remember what name, if any, was on the marquee.

robboehm
robboehm on June 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Again the subject of a recent HGTV episode of “You Live in What?” Current owner uses it as a home, office and showroom for his clothing and furniture lines. He said it was built in 1926. Interior is now on three levels. The inclined main floor is now level. He retained three of the outer walls and removed the third installing the new one further under the roof with a row of windows overlookeing a courtyard.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 14, 2007 at 10:27 pm

Listed as the Alpine in the 1938 city directory. Address was 834 Alpine.

WHong
WHong on August 11, 2007 at 1:50 am

Hi Jen Hofer. The Kim Sing used to show Hong Kong movies. I very much remember the Kim sing especially because of growing up in Chinatown. Surprisingly though, I only barely remember seeing a movie there only once. Based on what i remember, there was a lot of cigarette smoke in the auditorium. For some reason, a lot of the people in the audience wanted to smoke during the HK movie.

In a February ‘79 back issue of the L.A. Times, the movie lisings said that the Kim sing was showing “5 Venoms” and another HK movie. “5V” is AKA “5 Deadly Venoms” and is a Shaw Brothers kung fu movie and maybe also a favorite of Quentin Tarantino. So it looks like The Kim sing used to show the Shaw brothers movies.

I have a lot more memories of the CinemaLand/Royal Pagoda Theatre. The CL/RP Theatre is also in Chinatown, and I remember seeing all of Bruce Lee’s movies there, except for “Game of Death”. Those were the uncut Chinese language versions of Bruce’s movies being shown back then.

Also, based on the post from 6/8/07, I wonder why would the Kim Sing show “GS” in 1974 if “GS” is a 1968 Hong Kong movie?

Patsy
Patsy on June 14, 2007 at 6:32 am

Alan V. Karr: Yes, I just saw the HGTV episode and it was quite interesting. The recent broadcast I watched was June 13.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Open on 9/15/74 – features were “Kung-Fu Savage” and “Golden Swallow”.

avkarr
avkarr on March 10, 2007 at 10:48 am

This home / theatre was recently featured on an episode of
HGTV’s “What’s With That House?”

View link

Ralgev
Ralgev on October 3, 2006 at 10:24 am

A full color feature on the Kim Sing Theatre appears in the October 1, 2006, issue of the Los Angeles Times' West magazine (“Reel Living”). The exterior has been fully restored with its original neon marquee intact. Inside, however, the spaces were gutted and are now the very sleek home of furniture designer Willard Ford. The article states that the Kim Sing opened in 1926 as a vaudeville house.

jenhofer
jenhofer on January 2, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Hi. I’m part of a collective called the little fakers — we write & produce an episodic narrative populated entirely by handmade marionettes called “Sunset Chronicles” that takes place in lost, forgotten & imagined spaces along Sunset Boulevard. One of our storylines takes place in the Kim Sing Movie Theater — not in its current incarnation as a semi-constructed row of storefronts, but in its former incarnation as a movie thater. I’m wondering if anyone has information about the movies that played there (either when it was the Carmen or when it was the Kim Sing or both), or if anyone knows how I might acquire any further information about the place. Any advice appreciated — feel free to backchannel me at

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on August 11, 2005 at 4:55 am

Was this theatre known at one point as the Alpine Theatre? The Kim Sing is at the corner of Alpine and Figueroa.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on July 17, 2005 at 2:58 pm

It’s a smaller sign, and they’re up to “im Sing Theatre” now, but there’s now way they’re going to make this into a single-family residence – unless that family happens to be the Manson Family; it’s terribly tacky and drab, with security gates where the walls use to be.

MRY886
MRY886 on July 7, 2005 at 8:25 am

According to permits pulled over the last several years, the theater portion of the Kim Sing is being converted to a single family residence. The marquee remains and the parapet has been reconstructed on the building. The old sign that shows in the photo has been put back but only the word “Sing” is on it at the moment. The architect for the current changes is listed as Austin G. L. Kelly. When I get a chance, I will do early permit research and try to get a full history as well as an original architect on this very interesting historic theater. We used to drive by it all the time when I was growing up in the 1960s. The marquee had the movies listed in Chinese, but it did state that they all had English subtitles. Unfortunately I never got a chance to check the place out on the inside while it was still an active venue.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on June 10, 2004 at 11:41 am

The marquee is still there but the interior is entirely gutted and there’s new construction going on inside.

William
William on March 5, 2003 at 1:52 pm

When this little theatre opened it was called the Carmen Theatre. It seated 410 people. It is located at 722 N. Figueroa St.