Liberty Theatre

136 S. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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MagicLantern on July 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm

All new buildings up and down the block now.

kencmcintyre on May 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

The same directory also lists the Novelty at 136 S. Main in 1942.

kencmcintyre on May 18, 2009 at 6:12 pm

In 1942 the Chinese was at 136 S. Main, according to the city directory of that year.

reluctantpopstar on February 13, 2008 at 11:38 am

Based on all the evidence provided above, it looks like the 136 S. Main location was not The Liberty until around 1942, when it was showing porno, or whatever the 1940’s equivalent to porno was.
Who knows how long it lasted after that? As late as 1938 it was oeprating as the Novelty, showing 5 movies plus a serial for a nickel.
It seems like the 262 S. Main location was the Liberty much earlier, around 1910, lasting until..??? This was the theater with the elegant arch shown in the postcard.
Wish I could have gone to the Novelty, with its cheap-ass appearance and program of cheesy B-westerns. Looks like it was a lot of fun. Before my time. Even my Dad was only 7 years old at this time.

kencmcintyre on August 23, 2007 at 4:09 pm

What kind of films was the Liberty showing in April 1942? Not Disney, apparently. The ad is from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on August 11, 2007 at 11:51 pm

Here is another photo, probably around the same time as the first one I posted:

kencmcintyre on July 3, 2007 at 7:34 pm

The LA Times noted in 1948 that Mexican films were being shown at the Liberty, California and Mason theaters.

kencmcintyre on June 25, 2007 at 3:44 pm

I found a 1905 ad for the Novelty Theater at 523 S. Main. I posted a comment on the Gaiety page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 21, 2007 at 4:04 pm

Looks like 134 was the address of the flop house next door where you could hire a bed for fifteen cents. Doing a search of the library’s photo collection using “Novelty Theatre” I found another smaller, cropped and blurry) version of the same picture, and its info page gives a date of 1938 and an address of 136 S. Main. I don’t know why the library has two different versions of the same picture.

kencmcintyre on June 21, 2007 at 2:35 pm

This is a new posting by the LAPL. It’s an undated photo that gives the address as 134 S. Main:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 3, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Two Main Street theatres used the name Liberty at different times. The photo currently on this page depicts the other Liberty Theatre at 266 S. Main, and needs to be moved to that theatre’s page. This page is supposed to be for the Liberty Theatre at 136 S. Main.

kencmcintyre on June 3, 2007 at 2:18 pm

Are there two theaters or one theater? The LA Times lists one at 266 S. Main in January 1925.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Ken Roe: Then the photo depicts the Liberty at 266 South Main. That distinctive facade can be seen looming at the east end of 3rd Street in one of the photos on Brent Dickerson’s “Visit to Old Los Angeles” page to which I linked in my comment of 12 December 2005 above.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 7, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I have a listing for a Liberty Theatre, 266 S. Main Street which operated from early in the 20th Century until pre 1930. There is another Liberty Theatre, 136 S. Main Street operating from the 1930’s which was aka the Novelty theatre and the Chinese Theatre

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 4, 2007 at 2:06 pm

ScottS: Finding the exact address of the pictured theatre would be very useful. I think it’s likely that there was indeed a Liberty Theatre at 136 S. Main Street, maybe operated by the same people who operated the Liberty Theatre in the photo above. But the photo is certainly the theatre on the east side of Main just a bit north of 3rd, unless the two buildings were identical twins.

There’s a possibility that this building was the location of Tally’s Electric Theatre, opened in 1902. The information currently at the top of the Tally’s Electric Theatre page is in the wrong place. The address given for the theatre there is actually that of Tally’s Phonograph Parlors on Spring Street (where he began showing movies in a small back room in 1896), while the theatre described in the opening section is the one Talley opened on Main Street in 1902, which was probably the first building ever erected specifically as a movie theatre anywhere.

According to MagicLantern’s comment on that page, the address of Tally’s Electric Theatre was 262 S. Main Street. It had to be close to the south end of the block. Before it was rerouted, 3rd Street jogged at Main Street. The block on the west side of Main Street from 2nd to 3rd was the standard length of a downtown block, 600 feet, but the block on the east side of the street was longer. Tally’s Electric must have been in that area. The northeast corner of 3rd and Main was occupied by the Grey Hotel. In that photo, there are low buildings just north of the hotel, but the side wall of a two story building can be seen at far left. I think that’s probably the south wall of the theatre. This photo is a bit too blurry to be sure, but it seems to me that the street number on the awning of the confectionery shop at center is 276, and the street number on the northernmost shop in the hotel building looks like 270. If that’s right, and the two story building at left is the theatre, then 262 would be a likely address for it. By 1910, when the postcard picture at the top of this page was made, the low building to the south would have been replaced by the two story building pictured.

I’m not sure when Third Street was finally connected directly across Main Street (probably no later than the 1930s), but at that time the Grey Hotel and its near neighbors were demolished to make way for the angled section of Third Street. It seems probable that the theatre, being directly east of the western section of Third Street, was knocked down too. The Chinese and Novelty Theatres mentioned in MagicLantern’s comment above were probably at 136 S. Main, and thus not in building pictured.

reluctantpopstar on May 4, 2007 at 4:03 am

Anybody have a guess to the actual address? Maybe 236 S. Main Street? Definitely an even number since it’s on the East side of the street. The M.J. Higgins Gallery, still there today, is at 244 S. Main Street (but not for long, the new police motor pool building is being put in there, probably ground breaking before the end of 2007).
No other vintage buildings are today next to the Higgins Gallery to help us. Only vacant lots and a taco stand of more recent vintage. (Please don’t confuse this building with the Higgins Building at 2nd and Main on the southwest corner.)

But the question is, was the Liberty theatre north of the current MJ Higgins Gallery building or not? Hard to tell from the postcards on the page linked to above. The Gallery building is currently one story, but that doesn’t mean much; many buildings downtown were reduced in height over the years. The picture above seems to show two story buildings on either side of the theater entrance. I’m going to guess 248 S. Main for the Liberty Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 12, 2005 at 1:11 pm

Drat. I mean it was in the the 200 block, since it was just north of E. Third Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 12, 2005 at 1:08 pm

The address of 136 S. Main is incorrect. The Liberty Theatre can be seen in a number of old photographs of Los Angeles, and it was located on the east side of the 300 block of Main Street, opposite the end of West Third Street. Two photographs showing the Liberty can be seen about halfway down this page of Brent Dickerson’s “A Visit to Old Los Angeles” web site. The second photograph is of the view east along Third Street toward Main, showing the Liberty Theatre and its next-door neighbor, the Hotel Gray, at the end of the street.

MagicLantern on September 23, 2004 at 12:09 pm

Initially a silent film theatre, this theatre was also known as the Chinese Theatre, and Novelty Theatre (both mid-1940s). It sat 248 as the Novelty.

William on October 17, 2003 at 9:21 am

The Liberty Theatre was located at 136 S. Main Street, it was still around till the 50’s. It seated 280 people.