Crest Theatre

205 E. Foothill Boulevard,
Monrovia, CA 91016

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Showing 18 comments

hondo on November 24, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Great news about the theater organ!

cbooras on December 21, 2015 at 6:42 am

For those interested, The Lyric/Crest Theatre, Wurlitzer Theatre Organ is currently under restoration and installation into the Ohlone College Jackson Theatre in Fremont California. Thanks to clifluscher and a team of dedicated volunteers. Though separated from the mostly destroyed console, will come together as a 230 special (piano and posthorn added) with any luck By Fall 2016

CSWalczak on December 28, 2010 at 12:13 am

An article that mentions some history of the Lyric/Crest in Monrovia: View link

corkeybob on October 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Some of my first indoor move experiences where in that theater,
around 1963, I’ll never forget the nickel red-hot machine,after retrieving a handful from the dispensers opening, I immediately stuffed the whole amount into my mouth, and being a 6 year old with a mouthful of flaming red hots in distress I approached the candy counter moaning Awwwh pointing to my cheek, the 16 year-old perky counter-girl extended her palm, I shook my head no.. and used body language to the best of my ability to request a receptacle instead , but the counter girl insisted on the palm of her hand, but seeing the look on her face after depositing my suffering, I exited the lobby quickly and returned to my seat.

cliffluscher on May 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The Lyric Theatre Wurlitzer 210SP opus 1074 that was installed in the Monrovia High School was removed in August of 2009. Much of the manual chest pipe work was either badly damaged or missing , and the original relay and switch stack were gone by the time we removed the organ. The last time it played to my knoledge was somewhere between 1968 and 1970. If it played after that time I would be interested! In my opinion the organ was badly neglected , and its console was abused by carving Graffiti into its mahogany veneer. All of the organ that we could save is now in Northern California resting in storage , and will be restored and installed in a new home at a future date

Zeke on April 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm

The installation of the Wurlizter pipe organ at the Lyric was unique because it had 4 sets of swell shade shutters. The organ not only spoke into the auditorium, but it also spoke onto the stage. Jut Williams used to play the organ at the Lyric and he said that the sound of the organ was very rich because of the dual chamber openings, especially when the stage curtains were open. When the organ was moved to the high school in 1937, it was very muffled because they stacked the organ in the stage left chamber, with the solo chamber being completely buried by architecture. The organ was separated into 2 chambers (left and right) in 1957 (I think).

Zeke on April 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

The Lyric/Crest was demolished in September 1979. I have many photos of the demolition that my mother took while she watched them knock down the theatre from the Union gas station across the street. I used to work at the Crest Player Piano Shop that was in the theatre building at the corner of Ivy and Foothill. I also used to play and maintain the Wurlitzer 210 Special theatre pipe organ that was moved from the Lyric to the auditorium at Monrovia High school in 1937. The organ was not maintained for the past 15 years and it was heavily damaged by staff and students to the point that it could not be played. The organ was recently removed from the auditorium and used for parts.

kencmcintyre on September 23, 2009 at 3:55 am

Here is part of a June 1974 article in the Pasadena Star-News:

The Duarte premiere of the X-rated movies “Deep Throat” and “The Devil in Miss Jones” has been met with the predictable outcry from several citizens and city officials. While the opening this week was well attended, so were gatherings of anti-pornography groups, who deluged city hall with complaints about the sexually explicit films being shown at the Buena Vista Cinema.

The theater is located next to Thrifty Drug Store in the Von’s Shopping Center at the corner of Buena Vista and Huntington Drive in Duarte. Management of the theater has recently changed hands, and the new operator has replaced “family” entertainment with the X-rated double bill. The previous operator was Winston Evans, who has moved his “family” film operation to the Crest Theatre in Monrovia, where the dust is settling from a fight by irate anti-smut forces against X-rated movies. The same double bill appeared at the Crest until the previous management gave up under pressure from city hall and police.

The manager of the Buena Vista Cinema denies any association with the former Crest operators, but declined to state the name of the new lease holder. When the Crest opened with “Throat” and “Devil” last month, Monrovia found reasons to close the theatre down. First it was closed for failure to comply with business license requirements and the manager was arrested. Later the Monrovia council passed an ordinance prohibiting the operation of an adult movie theater within 1,000 feet of a school, in this case, Clifton Middle School.

Constitutionality of the ordinance was questioned, but the theater managers backed off before the issue was settled by the council. The owners of the movie house announced they would lease the theater to Evans and cancel the showing of X-rated films.

kencmcintyre on August 2, 2007 at 2:26 am

Here is a larger version of the photo at the top of the page:

kencmcintyre on December 2, 2006 at 10:48 pm

Here is an article from the Monrovia News-Post dated 3/1/78:

Three Monrovia properties Tuesday were deemed public nuisances and
ordered demolished or rehabilitated by the Monrovia City Council.
To be demolished are the Crest Theater building, 205 E. Foothill
Blvd., and the dwellings at 428 E. Walnut Ave. and 421 E. Royal Oaks

Constructed in the early 1920s, the Crest Theater building was ordered demolished because of numerous violations of the National Electric Code and the Uniform Building and Fire Code. Violations at the site were found in the form of illegally altered wiring,
broken and missing electrical fixtures, graffiti on the outside of the building, combustible wastes strewn throughout the inside of the building and improperly supported fire hose water lines.

The owner of the Foothill Boulevard property, S.M. Lazarus, asked the city to demolish the Crest Theater rather than allow it to be
rehabilitated or repaired. At the Tuesday meeting, the council complied with Lazarus' wishes and placed a $30,000 lien against the property to pay for demolition.

rduff1 on May 27, 2006 at 11:24 am

I lived on N. Ivy and my kids and I used to go to the Crest all the time. When they were destroying the theater we found dressing rooms in the rear. I have a pair of the cast iron seat sides that I liberated from the Crest. The Crest Lives On!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 7, 2005 at 8:45 am

Southwest Builder & Contractor of January 9th, 1925, revealed that the plans for the Lyric Theatre were being prepared by the firm of Wilson, Merrill and Wilson, 128 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. The building was to be 70' x 150' and the projected cost was $75,000. The owners and operators would be National Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 29, 2005 at 12:25 am

The oldest reference to the Lyric Theatre I’ve seen is the announcement of the plans to build it which appeared in the January 3rd, 1925 issue of the Los Angeles Times. The L.A. Public Library’s photo database has an early picture of the Lyric, with the notation that it opened on October 22, no year given, but I think we can safely assume that it was 1925, as the Times of May 3rd, 1925 reported that the contract for construction had been let.

The Times of February 10th, 1971 lists the Lyric Theatre in the Independent Theatres section of their movie guide, so the successor company of Fox Theatres had dropped it by then.

chun on February 24, 2005 at 3:44 am

That building on the left side of the Crest Theatre (on the corner) housed a Player Piano Shop. I remember going in there with my dad to mill around before or after the movies (this would be about 1965 or 1966.

trooperboots on January 19, 2005 at 9:57 am

On December 16, 1939, Monrovia Police Officer Scott Vernon Smith, 28, was chasing a speeding suspect on his motorcycle on Foothill Boulevard when 2 small children darted in front of his motorcycle running to the Lyric Theater matinee. They were late, so they were crossing the street in the middle of the block. He knew he could not have avoided hitting the kids, so he instinctively and intentionally turned his motorcycle at Ivy and Foothill, skidded across the curb and actually crashed into the east end of the Lyric Theater lobby.

Only moments before there were dozens of children in the lobby waiting to enter the auditorium. Theater manager John Nylen opened the lobby early, otherwise, the scene might have been even more tragic… but the officer struck his head on the stucco of the wall so hard, the metal reinforcing under-structure was exposed.

Dr. Robert Crusan, who was in the theater with his children was quickly on the scene and even went to the hospital with the officer, but the policeman died of his injuries a short time later. Services were held at the First Christian Church under Rev. Stanley Bond and Rev. Quick of the Free Methodist Church. Interment was at Live Oak Cemetery. It was obvious that the officer sacrificed his own life to avoid hitting the children. He loved kids and had actually spent his spare time teaching school kids bicycle safety.

chun on October 26, 2004 at 6:03 am

As I child I saw many a classic at The Crest Theatre (circa 1965), Snow White & The Sound of Music among them. Walking the few short blocks from our Craftsman home in the wind and rain, clasping my mother’s hand, I would enter the warm, bright lobby, a bag of fresh hot popcorn my reward. The snack stand stood center in the lobby, the ticket booth was outside. I was mesmerized, as a child, with the enormous draperies that would sweep back to reveal the screen. The floors were sticky and there was a sort of flocked wallpaper covering the walls. We always sat in the rear third of the theatre, left hand side, middle of the row.
I took my younger sisters there when I was 12 (1972), and remember clearly filling my blue vinyl purse with candy and soda from the Pronto Market next door-a teenager waved me over to the snack counter, ceremoniously unzipped my bag and shouted out, “Full House!,” before confiscating my bag for the duration of the movie. The theatre was already in decline-the Santa Anita Mall had been or was being built- and storefronts on Myrtle were being abondoned-McBratney’s Department Store, AnitaShop, Earl’s Toy Store-even the Winchell’s donuts on Foothill, to the left of the theatre, with the big donut on top, and the Orange Julius to the right-they were all being left behind.
One of the last uses of the Crest was as a movie set for a Horror movie-I know, I was an extra, and along with 100 others, had to run down the aisles screaming many times. A fitting end, considering the lack of awareness in that town at that time, about the historical value of the old buildings, the Crest included; and the speed with which the decision to take it down was made. The Crest Theatre figures prominently in the sweeter memories I have of childhood. Renec

gbachlund on November 28, 2003 at 8:47 pm

When I moved to Monrovia in 1977 the Lyric (Crest) was still standing. I recall that its demolition was a long and difficult job as the building was poured-in-place reinforced concrete, and the local paper noted that the reason for demolition was that the building was seismically unsafe!

A bit of the Lyric remains – its WurliTzer 2-manual organ is installed in the auditorium of Monrovia High School.

William on August 29, 2002 at 2:48 am

The Lyric theatre finished it’s last years known as the Crest theatre. It was located at 205 E. Foothill Blvd.