Mayfair Theatre

793 E. Santa Clara Street,
Ventura, CA 93001

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drb
drb on November 19, 2009 at 8:10 am

From the San Buenaventura Conservancy site:
View link
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kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 6, 2009 at 12:06 am

Here is part of an article in the LA Times dated 1/17/91:

After less than two months as a revival house, the Mayfair Theater has once again shut down. Formerly owned by the Pussycat theater chain and operated as an X-rated movie house, and more recently home to Spanish-language films, the Ventura theater found little success showing cult, art and classic films beginning in November.

“The people who were in there last just weren’t making any money, so they closed it up,” said Ethel Edwards of Walnut Properties, the Los Angeles company that owns and leases the property at 793 E. Santa Clara St. “We’re now trying to lease it out as either a Spanish house or a regular-run house. It’s either for lease or for sale.”

The theater actually had a pretty productive life before being purchased by the Pussycat chain. In the 1950s and ‘60s the building was leased by the family of Ventura resident Trudy Clark. “That was long before the drive-ins and the proliferation of theaters. There were only the two theaters in downtown Ventura … in all of Ventura,” Clark said. “The Mayfair was a regular first-run theater.”

Clark isn’t surprised that the Mayfair failed as a revival theater and questions its future as a movie house. “I didn’t see how it could do very well. You can see old movies on television … regular television, not even cable,” she said. “The theater is a single-screen theater and all the theaters that have been built in the last 15 years are multiple screen. And I don’t see how there would be room to expand.”

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 14, 2009 at 5:27 am

Here is a June 1974 ad from the LA Times:
http://tinyurl.com/orqd7f

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 11, 2009 at 1:53 am

billy byron: I missed your comment earlier, as my e-mail service no longer sends me notifications for new Cinema Treasures comments.

If you get back to this page, could you please click on this link to a 1951 Life Magazine photo and tell me if the theater the photo depicts is the Mission? The Life Magazine archive says the building is in Los Angeles, but I think it must be in Ventura, or at least in Ventura County. If it isn’t the Mission, do you recognize the theater at all?

wdoss12
wdoss12 on October 20, 2008 at 5:25 pm

mission theater was locaded accrose& down a couple of buildinge from mision. Buliding was still there 5 yrs ago. painted white. it was a low cost theater,b western,oliver and hardy type pictire. i went there from 1946 to 1954. theater was not new in 1946

drb
drb on September 17, 2008 at 12:59 am

This is the old Mayfair marquee, right? I found it sitting in an empty lot a few blocks south of the San Buenaventura Mission. Or at least that’s where it was in October ‘07 when I took these.

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JayAllenSanford
JayAllenSanford on August 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm

New book-length Pussycat Theatre history from the San Diego Reader:
View link

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 12, 2008 at 2:01 am

Here is an interior photo from the UCLA collection:
http://tinyurl.com/6632gh

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 2, 2008 at 2:45 am

According to Daily Variety, 11/7/1939, before having the Mayfair Theatre built, owner Mrs. Jenne Dodge operated a theatre in Ventura called the Mission.

Southwest Builder & Contractor of 11/3/1939 gives the name of the owner of the Mayfair as James Dodge.

I haven’t found any further information about the Mission Theatre in Ventura.

William
William on May 1, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Opening night of the theatre was on June 18th. 1940. On that night the opening feature was “Irene” (1940-RKO) with Anna Neagle, Ray Milland, Mae Robson, Billie Burke. Opening night also featured the Latest Pathe News and the Warner Brothers Technicolor cartoon “Tom Thumb in Trouble”. The Master of Ceremonies for that evening was George Jay.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 27, 2007 at 4:04 am

Here is an August 18, 2000 LA Times article about a fire at the Mayfair:

A historic Art Deco theater in downtown Ventura that entrepreneurs hoped to revive as a swing dance hall was severely damaged Thursday in an early-morning fire.

The blaze gutted the long-shuttered Mayfair Theater, leaving only the building’s thick outside walls, ticket office and elaborate neon marquee.

Witnesses said flames erupted about 1 a.m., and firefighters arrived to find a man and a woman standing on the roof of the marquee. The pair were taken down by ladder, treated for smoke inhalation at Ventura County Memorial Hospital and later released, officials said.

The man and woman, squatters at the Mayfair Theater, had set up a living area in a room on the second floor and were sleeping there when fire started, city fire officials said. They crawled from their room onto the roof of the marquee, where they were rescued.

Loss of the theater is a setback to the city’s plans of restoring historic buildings and turning an aging downtown into an arts and tourism district.

Ventura residents and twin sisters Tammy Finocchiaro and Terri Moore, 35, were trying to purchase the theater for their Flyin' Lindy Hoppers swing dance group, which performs nationally and holds classes and dance events.

On Thursday they stood on their front porch, directly across Ash Street from the theater, and watched firefighters battle the blaze.

“Do we give up? Not necessarily, but to get the smoke out and rebuild is a lot more industrious project than we had before,” a weary Moore said.

The sisters had just cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, when the Planning Commission unanimously approved a permit to allow them to turn the theater into a dance hall.

After hearing about the loss Thursday, Curt Stiles, 62, a commission member, said he had looked forward to the theater’s proposed renovation and recalled watching movies there as a child.

“That’s a part of my history going down the tubes,” he said. “Every kid in town went there.”

Firefighters searched the interior of the building, known as a haven for transients, and determined that no other people were inside, said Rod Smith, commander for the Ventura Fire Department.

Within an hour the fire destroyed most of the interior, including the 59-year-old theater’s original chairs, Art Deco chandeliers, and the building’s vaulted redwood roof.

Ten fire engines and three trucks fought the flames.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but officials are looking into the possibility that transients might have started it, said Bill Rigg, assistant fire chief, although he said an aging wiring system might also be to blame.

There is no property loss estimate yet, Rigg said.

Stephen Sisca, who manages the property for the theater’s Los Angeles-based owner, S.D.H. Properties, said the land and building are valued at about $675,000.

Built in 1941 by S. Charles Lee, a prominent Art Deco theater architect, the building started life as the Mayfair Theater and showed first-run films for decades.

But it fell on hard times and in the 1970s was painted pink and reincarnated as a venue for X-rated movies. In the 1990s local entrepreneurs painted it sky blue and ran it as a coffeehouse that showed art movies. But that effort failed.

The building sat empty for years, attracting transients, with only its marquee and gold light fixtures a reminder of its former glory.

GaryParks
GaryParks on January 5, 2007 at 2:16 am

We drove by the site of the Mayfair last week. There is housing there now, done in a rather pleasing Arts & Crafts bungalow revival style. Below the storefront windows on the ground floor, however, are bands of maroon tile which look more Moderne than anything else. I wonder if they, and the smooth pastel stucco which covers much of the ground floor facade, are a slight nod to the theatre?

Right at the building’s curved corner, about where the box office once stood, there is a bronze plaque commemorating the Mayfair, which includes a representation of the “M” and flower motif which was centered on the marquee. The plaque gives a basic description of the theatre’s exterior, date, and lists its architect, S. Charles Lee.

tbdavid
tbdavid on January 12, 2005 at 5:41 pm

My God father was Vincent Miranda..owner of the pussycat chain. I am putting a collection of memrobilia together befor all is lost. I am looking for one of the old Pussycat marquees. You know the oval w/ a Ms. Pussycat and “It’s a pussycat Theatre” Please if you have any information, let me know.

THANKS!
Tim David

970.309.3991

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on August 17, 2004 at 11:22 pm

Totally demolished as of August 13, 2004.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on August 5, 2004 at 6:11 pm

The San Buenaventura Artists' Union (300 North Ventura Avenue, Ventura CA 93001) sez:

“To donate to the fund to preserve parts of the Mayfair Theatre from destruction such as the marquee and ticket booth, send a tax deductible check to the Ventura Artists' Union (a 501.c3 non-profit). Note on the check: "Mayfair Fund”. Send checks to the above address, or for more information check the Artists' Union website:

http://www.venturaartistsunion.org/us.htm

For more info on the Mayfair Theatre, check these links:

The S. Charles Lee archive at UCLA with pictures and sketches of the theatre in the 1940s.

http://digital.library.ucla.edu/sclee/

Cinema Treasures website:

/theaters/2328/

Or find the book on S. Charles Lee: “The Show Starts on the Sidewalk”, by Maggie Valentine.

For more information, contact 805 444 5233."

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on August 3, 2004 at 6:41 pm

Taking photographs today – the marquee was trisected and removed by flatbed truck and crane about an hour ago – I noticed the metal supports on the wall for that vertical sign are still there. Final(?) demolition commences tomorrow.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on August 2, 2004 at 8:59 pm

As long as I’d traveled through Ventura and seen the Mayfair (since 1985 or so), the vertical sign in that vintage photograph was not present.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on August 2, 2004 at 7:12 pm

Better change this to “demolished” as of tomorrow. They’re taking down the marquee and ticket booth today…

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on July 29, 2004 at 7:22 pm

Oh, and during its last days as a movie theatre, it showed second-run and classic films (“The Conversation”, “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind”, etc.). It had ceased to be a Pussycat long before that (although there were still popcorn cups emblazoned with the Pussycat girl and their “It’s Cool Inside” logo).

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on July 29, 2004 at 7:20 pm

Better get the cameras out – the barricades for demolition on August 2 are up now…

mimici
mimici on June 26, 2004 at 5:38 pm

There is now little hope for the Mayfair. Those leading the effort to somehow preserve the theatre’s important architectural elements are looking for financial donations and/or crane donations, truck donations, contractors, welders, a storage location.
If you can help contact:

karadavis
karadavis on April 28, 2004 at 11:03 pm

The demolition permit for the Mayfair Theater was issued recently. Sadly, none of the existing facade elements will be retained in the new design. A local organization, the Ventura Visual Art Net, is inviting Ventura County artists to come out Saturday May 1, 2004 between 7:00am (when light is good) and Noon Saturday and bring cameras, sketchbooks, or easels to record this important Streamline Moderne Theater. A competition to be displayed in tandem with Ventura Architectural weekend in downtown Ventura, November 7th to 9th and the Downtown Harvest ArtWalk November 13th will be held with categories related to the theater art.

William
William on November 13, 2003 at 11:15 pm

During its last day as a movie theatre it was run by Pussycat Theatres. It was located at 793 E. Santa Clara Street.