Monrovia Theatre

314 S. Myrtle Avenue,
Monrovia, CA

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The Monrovia was a district 2 Fox house.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

AJG
AJG on September 29, 2005 at 1:52 pm

Joe:
You’re a ‘gem’ for digging all of this up for me! I’m thinking that the Colonial could be the one. I know that my great grandfather had to have built/financed the theatre well prior to 1921…more likely 1904-‘06, maybe even before. My guess is that it was very small and not likely to have been a major stop on the vaudeville circuit.

Do you have to be a member of the L.A. Library to access this data online?

Here’s another piece of history that my family is trying to recover evidence of: My great grandmother Helen De Wolf (or Wolf) was managed by Sid Grauman. Following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, Grauman convinced Helen to write and produce a musical number for her 3 children (one being my grandmother Capitola) to perform at a benefit for earthquake victims. I believe that benefit show was in a large Los Angeles venue. The children’s act received rave reviews and thus launched their careers, independent of their parents'.

I’m hoping to find newspaper articles or reviews of the event which might include mention of the De Wolf family.

You have to pay to access archived articles in the Times (and other papers) right? I know that there is a great site that contains millions of newspaper articles, I just haven’t had the funds to research all of this stuff.

I already have a copy of 1919 LA Times article about the event, in which my grandaunt Georgette De Wolf was interviewed.

Joe…what is your connection/interest in theatre?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 30, 2005 at 11:36 am

AJG:
The L.A. Library web site is available to everyone, but the articles in various papers and magazines I mentioned above are not themselves available on the Internet. The library’s California Index of the Regional History Database contains only a large number of scanned index cards, some with a brief synopsis of the article content. (Reach the California Index from the main page by placing your cursor ove “Library Resources” and then selecting “Regional History” which will open a page with a link to the Index.) You can also sometimes find a bit of information attached to the historic photos in the library’s Photo Collection.

I think that the L.A.Times does indeed require a fee to access their archives. I’ve never used them, so I don’t know what the fees are (I’d imagine they are fairly steep— most newspapers charge quite a bit for that service), nor do I know how far back they go. The Times itself goes back to the 19th century, but their offices were blown up in 1910 and earlier issues may have been lost.

I tried entering both “Helen Wolf” and “Helen DeWolf” in the California Index search box, but there is no mention of her. There aren’t even very many mentions of Sid Grauman, and most of those have to do with the Chinese Theatre.

I’m not sure where you might find the information you’re looking for about your family. If you do a Google search on “vaudeville” you’ll get a load of results, and there are probably some sites that could at least give you some pointers about possible sources of information.

My main interest in theaters is the buildings themselves, especially those around Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, where I grew up. I have some memories of theatres there which I decided to contribute to this site, and then I discovered that I could dig up a bit more information about them by poking around on the Internet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 1, 2005 at 2:45 am

Daily Variety of September 30, 1941 announced that the Monrovia Theatre had been acquired by Fox-West Coast Theatres, so the theatre was operating under that name by that time.

AJG: I’ve found additional references to the Mission Theatre. It was located on East Olive Avenue, and opened in 1910. It must have been built as a live theatre, as a 1914 reference says that as part of a remodeling by the new owner, Mr. J.C. Kuert, of Los Angeles, a “modern operating room” (meaning a projection booth) was being added. A balcony with an additional 150 seats was added at the same time.

I have also found another reference to the Colonial Theatre. It opened in 1920. The 1921 remodeling included “the construction of a complete stage.” I don’t know if this means that the theatre had previously lacked a stage altogether, or merely had an inadequate stage. It may have opened as a nickelodeon. As I’ve been unable to pin down a location for the Colonial, or a construction date for the Monrovia Theatre, I can’t yet eliminate the possibility that the Colonial and the Monrovia were the same theatre under different names.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 18, 2005 at 11:00 pm

From the Pomona Public Library:

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 19, 2005 at 10:11 am

Interesting. That picture from the Pomona Library includes a Van de Kamp’s bakery up the street, but it’s missing its windmill.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 3, 2005 at 4:48 am

It was solar powered.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 6, 2008 at 6:14 am

The building is now an antique store. I went inside, and it was a decent sized space. There is a new multiplex about a block away.
http://tinyurl.com/47otjd
http://tinyurl.com/4hfs8o

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 7, 2008 at 4:23 am

The L.A. County Assessor’s office gives the original construction date of the building at 314 S. Myrtle Avenue as 1919, with an effective construction date of 1950, indicating a major remodeling at that time. I still have some question as to whether or not the Monrovia is the same theater as the one that opened as the Colonial in early 1920. That opening date would fit well with the 1919 construction date of the Monrovia Theatre’s building.

Are there any old Film Daily Yearbooks listing the both the Colonial and the Monrovia at the same time, or showing an address for the Colonial that differs from that of the Monrovia? The name Monrovia was in use for this theater at least as early as 1941.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on December 28, 2010 at 12:12 am

According to this article: View link the Monrovia opened as the Colonial in 1920; it has a picture that will enlarge if clicked upon. The Lyric, which has been mentioned above, opened in 1925 and later became the Crest.

BillCounter
BillCounter on March 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm

It’s in the 1923, 24 and 25 city directories as the Colonial at 314 S. Myrtle. It’s at #316 in the 1927 directory.

It’s listed as the Monrovia at #316 in the 1937 through the 1948 directories.

How about another nearby theatre, the Elite? It’s in the 1911 city directory at 217 S. Myrtle Ave, Monrovia.

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