Monrovia Theatre

314 S. Myrtle Avenue,
Monrovia, CA 91016

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

The aka Colonial Theatre should be added for this house, per CSWalczak and BillCounter’s information in the previous comments.

This item from the July 23, 1919, issue of Building & Engineering News most likely pertains to the Colonial Theatre:

“MONROVIA, Los Angeles Co., Cal. Class ‘C’ motion picture theatre, 88x54. Owner — Mrs. Castle. Architect— S. M. Cooper, 802 Story Bldg., Los Angeles.”
The original building being only 88 feet deep would have left plenty of room for the stage house that was added in 1921. Sanson Milligan Cooper appears to have started out as a contractor and gradually eased into architecture in the late teens and early twenties.

BillCounter on March 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

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.

CSWalczak on December 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

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.

kencmcintyre on April 5, 2008 at 10:14 pm

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.

kencmcintyre on December 2, 2005 at 8:48 pm

It was solar powered.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 19, 2005 at 2:11 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 on November 18, 2005 at 3:00 pm

From the Pomona Public Library:

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 31, 2005 at 6:45 pm

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 30, 2005 at 3:36 am

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.

AJG on September 29, 2005 at 5:52 am

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 28, 2005 at 4:57 pm


The Lyric probably opened in 1925. See my comment on it here:



As for the Monrovia, I haven’t been able to find any references to it by that name. The California Index of the Regional History database on the L.A. Public Library web site contains references to several theatres in Monrovia, some of which may not have been built. The earliest references are to a 900 seat brick theatre to have been built on East Lemon Street in 1911. The architect named for this theatre was Herbert Alban Reeves.

There are also references to a theater planned in 1923, to be financed by Marco Hellman, and to be located at the corner of White Oak (probably an earlier name of Foothill Boulevard) and Encinitas Avenue. I don’t know if either of these projects was actually built.

There is also a single mention of a theatre planned by a Mr. F.C. Thompson, announced in the April 15th, 1921 issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor. No address, architect or theatre name is given.

At least three theatres besides the Lyric (which opened as the Lyric) are mentioned by name in the database. They are the Myrtle, the Mission, and the Colonial. No details are given about the first two, (though I suppose we can assume that the Myrtle was on Myrtle Avenue), but the Colonial existed before 1921, as the first reference to it is from that year, when Southwest Builder and Contractor of April 22nd announced that it was being remodeled. The Colonial was mentioned again in the L.A. Times of February 21st, 1926, on the occasion of its sale to a new owner, and again in the Times of March 21st that year, when plans for another remodeling were announced.

I don’t know if any of this will be of any help, but I’m now several hundred miles from Monrovia myself, and must depend on the scant references available on the Internet for my information.

AJG on September 28, 2005 at 2:39 pm

William, TNX for lead about the Lyric. Will persue that. However, as I too live in NYC, I’ll not be going to Monrovia’s city hall or library anytime soon! (wink)
Have found another great member source for leads on recovery of playbills from the midwestern theatres that my family performed in.

William on September 28, 2005 at 1:20 pm

AJG you might look into the Lyric Theatre, which was the older of the two theatres in Monrovia. The oldest info I have dates Jan. 10th 1930, that the theatre was wired for sound and used Western Electric equipment.

William on September 28, 2005 at 12:30 pm

For the date you could try going to city hall to find out about the address it sat on for the date. And the city library and newspaper for information about the theatre.

AJG on September 28, 2005 at 4:56 am

Thank you. My interest in the Monrovia Theatre playbills is specific to the DeWolf family. They were all in the biz, and since Maurice (great grandfather) built the theatre and performed there with the rest of the family, I was hoping to recover the material. You see, my Grandmother Capitola De Wolf, destroyed her collection of playbills and reviews. Thankfully, we have the professional photographs.
In addition, I would like to find some documented evidence of Maurice’s ownership of the theatre. And, am still seeking the answer to the question: when was the Monrovia Theatre built? I would know by the date if that was the one he built.

William on September 27, 2005 at 2:13 pm

Unless the Monrovia Theatre was a major stop on the Vaudeville circuit, most of that materials may have been discarded over the years. You might try old second hand stores, swap meets and e-Bay. That type of material turns up every few months. This Fox theatre was the smaller of the two in the city, the other was the Fox Lyric at 1100 seats.

AJG on September 27, 2005 at 12:49 pm

My Great Grandfather Maurice Wolf built the first (maybe only) Vaudeville theater in Monrovia. Can someone answer the following:

1)When the Monrovia Theatre was built?
2)Where would the pre-cinema playbills, posters, notices, or any other promotional materials be archived?

Thank you.

William on November 13, 2003 at 3:33 pm

The Fox Monrovia Theatre was located at 314 S. Myrtle Ave..
Today the former theatre has been turned in a store.