Westlake Theatre

638 S. Alvarado Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90057

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Fox Westlake Theatre interior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Westlake Theatre is located in the MacAthur Park area near downtown Los Angeles. It had a gala opening September 22, 1926 with Monte Blue and Marie Prevost in “Other Women’s Husbands” on screen, supported on stage by Charlie Nelson and his Band and a Franchon and Marco “Idea”. The original seating capacity was for 2,000. The theatre was equipped with a 2 manual, 10 rank Wurlitzer organ (which was later removed and eventually destroyed). The theatre’s large roof-top sign has not only survived, it is still in use, as it was renovated in 1987. Other theatres located near the Westlake Theatre were the Park Theatre (now a store) and the Vagabond Theatre (now a travel agency).

Built and operated by West Coast-Langley Theatres it was designed by architect Richard M. Bates in a Spanish Colonial Revival style on the exterior, with Spanish Rococo details, known as Churrigueresque. This style is carried out throughout the theatre. Inside the auditorium there are decorative side grilles beside the proscenium, behind which were the organ chambers. A large painted panel is located above the proscenium.

Operated by Fox West Coast Theatres for many years, in 1935, architect S. Charles Lee was commissioned to modernise some features of the theatre, mainly the ticket office, marquee and some work in the foyer. The Westlake Theatre was a first run-movie theatre, but in later years, Metropolitan Theatres bought the theatre and ran it as a second and third run movie house, and eventually switched to only Spanish-language films. The Westlake Theatre closed on June 26th, 1991. Like many Los Angeles theatres, the Westlake was transformed into a swap-meet. A level concrete floor was poured in the orchestra area and traders stalls now operate from this and the foyer. The balcony remains intact, but out of bounds. All the original decorative treatment remains.

In February, 2008, the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles purchased the theatre for $5.7 million and adjoining properties for an additional $5 million dollars. The agency wants to resell the space to a buyer who will restore the theatre into a movie and performing arts space, and redevelop adjacent property with affordable housing, retail and parking. The swap-meet moved out the building in 2011.

The Westlake Theatre is designated a Historic Cultural Monument.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 99 comments)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

Thanks, Vokoban. I guess I got there when the guard was off-duty. While using the men’s room on the ground floor, I got into a panic thinking I was somehow going to get locked in the building. Then I’d miss the screening of “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Cinerama Dome that night (the reason for my trip to LA).

It’s off-topic for CT, but here are some pictures I took inside:

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The clock had stopped over the main desk, which just added to the overall Twilight Zone vibe:
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And just to put me back on-topic, one more shot of the Westlake sign:
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DonSolosan on August 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

The Park Plaza started life in 1923/24 as an Elks Lodge, according to the “Los Angeles Art Deco” book from Arcadia Publishing.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 6, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Thanks for ALL the great pictures.Didn’t see any smog.

TLSLOEWS on October 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

What a great marquee and rooftop sign.

coweyhere on November 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

A photo of the scaffold sign marquee from October 2009:

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DonSolosan on February 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm

They’re going to turn the Westlake back into a theater (live theater, performing arts type place). In general, they’ve spent a lot of energy cleaning up the park. The area is not as bad as it used to be. It’s all part of a plan to revitalize that neighborhood.

DonSolosan on April 1, 2011 at 7:47 am

I went by the other day and didn’t see any scaffolding. A building next door had scaffolding, but not the Westlake.

Trolleyguy on December 31, 2011 at 8:08 am

The rooftop scaffold sign was prominently featured in a recent episode of “America’s Most Wanted.”

MJuggler on January 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Currently the swap meet is no longer there, BUT no work is being done either. Wonder what is up?

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