Gardena Theatre

W. Gardena Boulevard and Berando Avenue,
Gardena, CA 90247

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The Gardena Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Gardena Theatre was opened in February 1939. It suffered damage from a fire on May 3, 1945 and after repairs were carried out it reopened November 1, 1945. It closed on October 22, 1955. The building is used as retail.

Contributed by Magic Lantern

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

You’re talking about the bargain store on the northeast corner of Vermont and Gardena. I wouldn’t have guessed that was a theater. I will take a look inside.

William
William on June 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

Look at the Google map and go around the building. It does not look like an almost 700 seat theatre from the way it looks. Over at HistoricAerials show it there in the 1952 shot.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 19, 2010 at 4:07 am

A couple of issues of Boxoffice in the mid-1940s mention the Gardena Theatre (it suffered a fire in 1945) operated by Harry Millstein and Harry Mellenkoff. It was most likely the unnamed theater being built for Mellenkoff that was mentioned in Southwest Builder & Contractor of October 28, 1938.

This 800-seat house was designed by architect C. E. Noerenberg, best known for designing a number of branch libraries for the City of Los Angeles, and for Dorsey High School, which he designed in partnership with Hollywood architect H. L. Gogerty.

Are we certain of the address for this theater? The L.A. County Assessor (not always reliable) doesn’t list 1002 W. Gardena, but gives an original construction date of 1924 and an effective construction date of 1940 for the 4625 sq. ft. building on the corner lot at 1004 Gardena, and those dates don’t match the 1938 construction and 1945 reconstruction of the Gardena Theatre.

This is the southwest corner of Gardena and Vermont, by the way. The lots on the east side of Vermont are in Los Angeles which has a different numbering system, so that’s the 800 W. block of Gardena Blvd. as it runs east from Vermont.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

All sorta confusing! What’s the correct address? Is it the original building? More info and photos of the theater would help.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm

A Big N Save and Nexxo Financial Corp.are listed at the address in the header.

billykid
billykid on February 19, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Flash News, the addresses were changed 50 plus years ago, the theater still stands, northeast corner gardena bl and vermont, i have uploaded a pic from about 1953..billy s.

DeniseGaskellSnuffin
DeniseGaskellSnuffin on April 23, 2016 at 7:10 pm

I worked at the theatre from march 1955 to November 1955 that’s when it closed. That photo is not of the Gardena theater, the theater was not on Vermont it was midway between Normandie and Vermont. When it closed I think it turned into the Gardena department store. I am sending you a program that I took when I was cashier that was always in the window. I am also sending you a check stub the last one the theater issued October 22. Any other information you can email me thanks Denise Gaskell Snuffin

DeniseGaskellSnuffin
DeniseGaskellSnuffin on April 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

I talked to the other person that worked with me at the theater and I was wrong about the Gardena department store it was a few businesses to the west of the garden theater but the theater was not on Vermont it was midway between Vermont and Normandy on Gardena Boulevard.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2018 at 3:01 am

DeniseGaskellSnuffin was right about the theater being between Vermont and Normandie, not on the corner of Vermont, though not midway between— it was much closer to Vermont. The Film Daily notice uploaded by Ron Pierce gives the location as Gardena and Berendo, which is two blocks west of Vermont.

I also now believe that Denise was correct in her first comment, when she said that the theater building became the location of the Gardena Department Store after closing. The LA. County Assessor’s office says that the department store building was built in 1938, which is when the theater was built. It is the second building west of Berendo Avenue. Denise’s friend who told her that the department store was a few businesses west of the theater might have been right at one time. I suspect that the department store relocated when the theater space became available.

If you take Google’s street view down the alley behind the building you can see to the left of the single rear door that the plaster is separating, in line with the top of the doorway, indicating that there could formerly have been a double exit door at that location. There is also an area at the other end of the rear which looks to have been bricked up, though it is difficult to make out due to layers of paint. That would have been the location of the second pair of rear exit doors. And again, the plaster appears to be separating in a line that would indicate the top of a doorway that has been bricked up.

As for the L.A. Times report from 1945 giving the address of the theater as 1002 Gardena Boulevard, I suspect that it was either a mistake, or the lots along Gardena Boulevard have since been renumered. The address of the department store is 1106 W. Gardena Boulevard. In any case, the building on the northeast corner of Gardena and Vermont is not even in the City of Gardena. That side of Vermont Avenue is in the City of Los Angeles.

So my conclusion is that the Gardena Theatre was in the building now occupied by the Gardena Department Store, 1106 W. Gardena Boulevard, just west of Berendo Avenue. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

TheIntern
TheIntern on May 1, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Hey Joe! My name is Holly and I’m college student researching a bunch of theatres for a project. I’ve noticed you know a lot about the theatres I’m supposed to be researching. Could you contact me? I have a couple questions. My email is .

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