Mesa Theatre

1890 Newport Boulevard,
Costa Mesa, CA

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In the years following World War II, repeated efforts were made in Costa Mesa to build a movie theater.

According to articles from that era in the Costa Mesa Globe Herald, post war building controls were the impediment. Congressmen and even the President of the United States were lobbied and in a town-wide ballot, the citizens voted for a theater. When the controls were lifted, the Mesa Theater was built and opened on November 4, 1948.

Its builder was Mason Siler, who also operated the now historic Lido and Balboa theaters in Newport Beach. It was designed in Streamline style by A. Dwight Gibbs, the architect of the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. Features in the $175,000 building included 925 luxury seats, a crying room and smoking room.

It was operated as an independent theater until Edwards Theatres took it over in 1981 making it their sixteenth Orange County location. By 1997 it was a second-run house that had become economically unfeasible to maintain without a major restoration so Edwards closed it.

In the last years, admission price was $1.00 for a double feature, not much more than its 1948 admission of 60 cents. The Mesa was demolished in 1998 and a Borders Books was built on the site.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

bkazmer
bkazmer on March 16, 2005 at 6:07 am

A very nice large theater…very clean and always fun. We saw lots of wonderful films there. I went from 1961 until well into the 70’s. I sat behind some very lovely girl in there in 8th grade… Sandy Kahre.. I even recall the film… “None But The Brave"
Later on from my junior year up until I was married and moved away I took dates there often when I wasn’t at the Paulo or some other theater.

carpie
carpie on April 5, 2005 at 8:33 pm

I have never actually visited the sites of the Lido, Balboa, and Mesa Theaters, but I have seen the Lido Theater in pictures shown to me by my parents. A very historical moment for this Siler family.

riannesiler
riannesiler on September 25, 2005 at 3:11 pm

I am Mason Siler’s granddaughter and the lido theater was my grandfather’s pride and joy. He and his father designed their theaters with the idea that going to the movies would be a unique and memorable experience. My grandfather absolutely loved the theater and it is wonderful to see people enjoying his work today.
Rianne Siler

NickSantangelo
NickSantangelo on April 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Lived a few block away (early 60s), used to ride my bike there for cheap Saturday matinees. Saw some bizarre double-bills (Annie Hall/Gator) and premiers as well (It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World). Our junior-high PE teacher took tickets at the door when we were in high school- that was strange. It was a big theater- I don’t recall anything very remarkable about it architecturally. It was our neighborhood hangout and I was sorry to see it go.

dangerine
dangerine on August 9, 2008 at 7:46 pm

I worked in the box office at the Mesa not long before it was closed. It was a lovely theater with period details, and it broke my heart they let it get so run down. The upholstery was ratty and the AC didn’t work – in between shows they’d have us walk up and down the aisle spraying tons of air freshener to cover the mold smell.

I loved that the box office had a speaker hooked into the theater sound system, so I knew exactly when the movie started.

Edwards encouraged mediocrity in its employees by treating them terribly. Worst company I ever worked for.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm

There is a 1983 photo on this site:
http://tinyurl.com/dnmree

Dublinboyo
Dublinboyo on June 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

A great little theater. Saw many a good film there including “Animal House” in 1978.

Too bad Costa Mesa is full of fascists now.

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