West Coast Theatre

308 N. Main Street,
Santa Ana, CA 92701

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West Coast Theatre

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The Fox West Coast Theatre has the distinction of being the 100th theatre designed by the Boller Brothers. Charles E. Walker built the New Walker Theatre at a cost of $250,000 on the site of the old Princess Theatre. Construction was completed in record time with three shifts working around the clock. The original 1,355 seating capacity included 800 on the main floor, along with 55 loges and 500 in the balcony, which was tested with a 25-ton cement weight. The theatre opened in January 1924, with a Wurlitzer pipe organ installed, and the opening attraction was Will Rogers in “Two Wagons, Both Covered”.

In September 1925, West Coast Theatres took over, with C.E. Walker remaining on as resident manager. Later names were the Fox Walker Theatre, West Coast Walker Theatre and finally the Fox West Coast Theatre. In its early years, in addition to movies, the theatre also associated with the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit, playing direct hits from the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.

In the late-1950’s, the interior of the theatre was given a ‘Skouras-style oramentation, similar to many of the Fox West Coast theatres at that time. The theatre was closed as a movie theatre during the 1980’s and fell into disrepair. In 1991, the Christian Tabernacle bought it for $750,000 and put another $50,000 into its restoration. Pete Montanez, a church member and general contractor, gave up two years of his time and donated $200,000 in labor to restore the theatre. He did all this work,despite the handicap of previously losing his right forearm in an accident.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

drb
drb on April 21, 2009 at 7:04 am

Actually, now that I look at it again, the second mystery photo probably says wATER instead of theATER. But what would the Santa Ana Theatre have been? It looks like 1910s, which would make it too old to have been Clune’s Santa Ana/Yost.

CTCrouch
CTCrouch on April 21, 2009 at 5:10 pm

The first “mystery theatre” picture, is the Santa Ana Theatre (also billed as the Santa Ana Electric Theatre), which was located on east 4th street. The theatre was operated by “Doc” Roberts (he’s the man standing on the far left hand side of the photo). The Santa Ana library dates the theatre opening/picture to 1908, while the City of Santa Ana lists 1906; in either case, this would make the Santa Ana/Electric Theatre the first commercial movie theatre in Orange County, predating the Temple Theatre (which has traditionally been billed as the first) by a year or two.

monika
monika on July 20, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Here is a March 2009 photograph I took of the West Coast Theatre:
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kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 18, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Thanks for redoing the introduction. This is a photo circa 1959 that is currently being advertised on eBay:
http://tinyurl.com/oggh6k

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on November 28, 2009 at 8:57 am

Here’s a 1926 playbill from the West Coast Walker:
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drb
drb on March 8, 2010 at 10:02 am

This page
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Contains this then-and-now mashup
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BruceForrest
BruceForrest on April 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Remember this theatre, when I was a kid—late 60s, and on. Always ran movies that were well past their expiration date, you could say. ALways recall, the floors were sticky, seats always had gum on them, and overall, the theatre was simply filthy.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on August 30, 2012 at 5:12 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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