Laguna South Coast Cinemas

162 South Coast Highway,
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

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Laguna South Coast Cinemas

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The only movie house in this town known as an artists colony, this theater opened as the Lynn Theatre in 1923 at a cost of $12,000. It was erected three years before the Pacific Coast Highway, which it faces, was dedicated by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. An early photo shows a rather plain façade and it was the remodeling in 1935 that gave it a distinctive tower and small tiled courtyard. It still retains its stage that was equipped to put on large productions.

In 1937 it became the South Coast Theatre and remained independent until Pacific Theatres took over its operation in the late-1970’s. Edwards Theatres leased it in 1982, making it their 28th location. The auditorium was divided and refurbished including new seating and bathrooms.

The screens are small but elevated and the projection sharp, presenting an excellent view from every seat. The small balconies in each theater have 25 loges. Edwards relinquished its operation in late-2000 and in early-2001 it was taken over by Regency Theatres. Its program is filled with first-run movies and art films on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 1, 2009 at 8:18 pm

The Lynn and New Lynn Theaters were mentioned in the April 10, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. Apparently both theaters were in operation simultaneously for a time.

The Boxoffice item reads: “Ronald Vincent has changed the names of his two theatres at Laguna Beach, the Lynn being redubbed the Laguna and the New Lynn being called the Southcoast.”

CTCrouch
CTCrouch on July 22, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Here is how I understand the history of Laguna Beach theatres:

The first Lynn Theatre operated for several years at 255 Forest Ave (now a Boardriders Club clothing outlet) and closed in the early 1920’s. In 1922, a second Lynn Theatre (still billed as the Lynn) opened on the current theatre’s 162 South Coast Highway site. This theatre was heavily damaged by flooding, rebuilt, and reopened in 1935, as the New Lynn. At some point, likely during the New Lynn’s construction, another Lynn theatre was opened at 250 Ocean Ave (billed as the Ocean Ave. Lynn). When the two theatre’s were sold to the Vincent family, circa 1936, the New Lynn became the South Coast Cinemas and the Ocean Ave. Lynn became the Laguna Theatre. All of these Lynn theatres were named after a member of the original operator’s family Lynn Aufdenkamp.

CTCrouch
CTCrouch on April 21, 2010 at 2:32 am

The theatre we see today (minus the twinning) opened on June 26, 1935, with the Jane Withers film “Ginger”.

johnnybob
johnnybob on May 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

Having grown up in Laguna during the 50’s and 60’s I spent a good deal of time in this movie palace, most of it on Saturday for noon show of cartoons, shorts and a feature film. Not mentioned are the great murals located in several recessed alcoves on both sides of the theater, (now hidden by drapes) they depict important events from California’s history. Painted by two local artist in he 30’s, Al Dupont and David Rosen, both now passed. Al also painted the buried pirate treasure mural that was in the old Jolly Roger on PCH.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on June 29, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Nothing left of the Lynn / Laguna at 250 Ocean but a newish looking multi-story office building – right next to the Historical Society, by the way.

cnnrhogan
cnnrhogan on November 2, 2010 at 10:45 am

I’ve been working at the theater since summer 2008. I just thought I’d add some facts that haven’t been mentioned: We rarely ever go behind the theater where the stage is for four reasons: 1) It locks from the inside, so we have to climb over a wood post to open the door. 2) We can’t turn on the lights when there’s a movie playing, so we have to bring flashlight, and it’s pretty creepy sometimes. 3) We use it to store movie posters we don’t need any more. We also store a couple concession machines that are broken, like the nacho machine, the hotdog machine, and a snow cone machine. 4) Also, a couple people I’ve worked with say the’ve seen ghosts, and had posters fall off the rack. Some employees refuse to go back there. I remember hearing a rumor when I first started that someone had hanged himself behind the theater in the late 1950s. Also, there’s a small apartment up the stairs next to the projection room, that the owner occasionally sleeps in. The former owner of the theater gave it to him when he bought it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 3, 2010 at 6:03 am

A Historic Resources Inventory prepared for the State of Califronia in 1981 included the South Coast Theatre, and the report said that this this house opened as the New Lynn Theatre in 1935, and that the architect was James Conway. (This 9.8MB PDF file includes the data on the theater, along with numerous other buildings in Laguna Beach.)

It looks as though the 1930 rebuilding planned for Mr. Aufdenkamp by architect Walter J. Saunders was not carried out. The report also includes the information that the original Lynn Theatre, opened in 1915 on this same site, was moved to a lot on Ocean Avenue and operated there while construction of the new theater was underway. If the projected 1930 rebuilding of the original Lynn, which called for a large steel and concrete structure, had taken place, the building would probably not have been moved. The original Lynn was most likely a wood-framed building of the sort typical in Laguna Beach during its early years.

Although the Historic Resources report calls James Neil Conway a “distinguished theatre architect”, I’ve been unable to discover any other theaters he designed. Almost the only source of information about him on the Internet is this page from the Pacific Coast Architecture Database, and no theaters are among the five projects it lists. He was apparently a designer by profession, not a licensed architect. That means he would either have had a licensed engineer working with him on this project, or have had someone who was licensed to sign off on his plans, but I’ve been unable to discover who that was.

drb
drb on December 22, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Currently closed due to flooding. Photo here:
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