Avalon Theatre

1 Casino Way,
Catalina Island, CA 90704

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Avalon Theater

A truly classic movie palace, situated in Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, just 22 miles off the coast from Los Angeles. The Avalon Theatre opened on May 29, 1929. It is located in the Casino Building, built by chewing gum magnet William Wrigley Jnr, and is located beneath the Casino Ballroom. The building was never intended for or used as a casino, but for dancing (which in the era of the ‘big bands’ attracted the likes of Benny Goodman – the King of Swing' to play here to 2,000 capacity dancers. The outer lobby of the building has eight ‘Atlantis’ inspired tiled mural panels, the work of John Gabriel Beckman, who decorated the entire Avalon Theatre in an Atmospheric style. There are painted murals on the side-walls depicting a noble savage hunting deer with a bow & arrow, as a few Franciscan monks arrive by galleon surrounded by stylized hillsides. The rear wall has painted murals of birds and monkeys.

Above the rounded proscenium arch is a re-creation of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”, whilst on the asbestos safety curtain is painted “Flight of Fancy Westward”, depicting a primitive surfer boy riding the crest of a wave, superimposed on a background of the map of the island. The silver leaf ceiling is made to glow in shades of pink and violet by colored lights hidden behind a low wall surrounding the auditorium.

The Avalon Theatre is equipped with a Page 4 manual 16 rank theatre organ, built by the Page Organ Co. of Lima, Ohio. It is still in working order and is played regularly at film performances on weekends only. Films play daily every evening of the week. The complex is still owned by the Wrigley family who keep the building well maintained.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 49 comments)

vokoban on August 26, 2008 at 9:18 am

Isn’t that the address listed?

kencmcintyre on August 26, 2008 at 9:25 am

It shouldn’t say Catalina Island. Atlantic City is on Absecon Island. Shouldn’t all theaters in Atlantic City be listed as Atlanic City, Absecon Island, NJ, by your rationale? Avalon is the city, CA is the state. Catalina Island is not part of the address.

vokoban on August 26, 2008 at 9:57 am

I sat in the seats last weekend and they are very comfortable and new feeling. I’m sure they replaced the original seats with these at some point and put fewer than original to accommodate the continuously expanding exteriors of the American public. They did a really nice job because the sides of the seats look original, at least on the aisle.

kencmcintyre on June 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Here is a 1929 interior photo from the LAPL:

spectrum on November 1, 2009 at 8:14 am

A couple links:

Casino Ballroom: avalonball.com

Avalon Theater: View link

ERD on November 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

A unique and beautiful interior and exterior. I am glad the Avalon theatre is so well maintained.

gman99 on November 5, 2009 at 1:55 am

Hey, does anyone have any further info on the “Silent Movie Festival” mentioned above??

Have only been there once…but loved it. Especially since during the tour, we were privileged with a screening of a Buster Keaton short….definitely the true genius of the Silent Film era.

Tock11 on July 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

What is the definition of “atmospheric”?

Considering the ceiling—even minus clouds and a bordering Spanish village—could this be called an atmospheric?

CatalinaFF on January 17, 2012 at 11:23 am

Please come see this beautiful theatre at the annual Santa Catalina Film Festival held every May. This year there are a lot of amazing guests lined up to come.

Go To: www.CatalinaFF.org for more information.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 29, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Architect Sumner Spaulding’s middle name was Maurice. Walter Webber’s middle initial was I.

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