Meralta Theatre

2035 E. First Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90033

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piecesofaman
piecesofaman on December 21, 2011 at 3:09 am

My cousins and I went around the Boyle Heights theater circuit in the late 50’s and early 60’s.I recall watching Elvis Presley’s “King Creole” there (which I hated) and also great movies like Vincent Price’s “Tingler” and Ray Milland in “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes”. The sci-fi/horror flicks were what all of us kids went for. A vivid memory was watching “Teenage Frankenstein” at the Meralta in color and that cool aqua blue t-shirt that the monster wore. Loved that place.

Most of our Saturday’s were spent at the Brooklyn and Sunday’s at the Meralta.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

Thanks, Bill. I must have overlooked the Meralta’s listing in the 1923 directory. As for the construction date from the assessor’s office, they do appear to have a number of errors in their database. This is probably one of them, unless some disaster such as a major fire befell the original structure and it was entirely rebuilt in 1924.

If you still have access to the 1918 and 1919 city directories, could you look something up for me? I’m trying to track down a theater that was reported to be under construction in late 1914, at the southeast corner of Vermont Avenue and 41st Place. It isn’t listed in any of the city directories the L.A. library has online. I don’t know what its name was, but if it ever opened the address would have been approximately 4150 S. Vermont.

The building on that site now fits the description of the 1914 project, but the only indication that it might have housed a theater is the fact that part of it is now occupied by a small church. I think the theater must have operated for only a few years, and most likely closed due to competition from two larger theaters that were built nearby in the early 1920s.

BillCounter
BillCounter on November 4, 2011 at 12:29 am

Hi, Joe!

It is in the 1923 city directory as the Meralta at 2035 E. 1st St. In the 1918, 1919 and 1922 city directories it was the Meralta at 2033 E. 1st St.

I don’t see how it was built in 1924 unless it was just a remodel of the New Lyceum building. Mysteries!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

The Meralta Theatre entry at the useful web site Los Angeles Movie Palaces says that in the 1914 city directory a house called the New Lyceum Theatre was listed at this address. However, the L.A. County Assessor’s office says that the building that housed the Meralta Theatre was erected in 1924, with an effectively built date of 1930 (indicating a major alteration or repairs that year.)

I don’t have access to the 1914 city directory, but neither the 1915 nor the 1923 directory has a theater listed at this address. The New Lyceum was most likely a short-lived storefront nickelodeon in a building that was demolished long ago.

I’m a bit disappointed by this. The August 7, 1912, issue of the journal Architect and American Architecture had an item saying that architects Noonan& Kysor were drawing plans for a 1-story movie theater of about 800 seats in Boyle Heights. I thought I’d found the architects of the Meralta, but the building’s age eliminates that possibility. Assuming the projected theater got built, it was one of the several other neighborhood houses in the Boyle Heights district that were operating by 1914 or 1915. It’s going to be hard to track down which of them it was, and the odds that it still exists are low.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2010 at 2:17 am

Rongee: The other four theaters you remember are all listed at Cinema Treasures:

Brooklyn Theatre

Joy Theatre

National Theatre

Wabash Theatre

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Please note my comment of 4/4/09 regarding the aka of Teatro Azteca.

Rongee
Rongee on April 29, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I attended the meralta theatre when I was a child and was facinated by this site and the old pictures.
There was a theatre across the street from the meralta called Joy that was owned by the same group.
Apparently after Jack Berman filed the lawsuit the parties got together and were partners in all the theatres in east LA.
The only names that come to mind are Meralta,Joy,Wabash,National andI think there was one called Brooklin.
Really enjoyed the pictures.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Here is a 1983 photo. Teatro Azteca should be an aka.
http://tinyurl.com/datzxb

Irene225
Irene225 on June 9, 2008 at 6:27 am

My parents co-owned the Angeles Hall (I wonder if it is still there) on First Street in the 40s and they would drop me off at either the Meralta or Joy on weekends while they worked the Hall. Those theaters were just to the east of the Hall. After the movie I would walk to the Hall and help in the office or coat check room. There was a Mexican restaurant near the Joy that was very colorful but I don’t remember the name.

juliagreen
juliagreen on May 23, 2008 at 4:27 am

I would like to comment on the satellite/aerial photo comments above. The point is indeed taken as to the age of these photos as accurate representations of the current address (the map is not the territory) but I think that they do represent an important aspect that is not available from facade shots of these buildings. There is not only the (relatively)current view of the neighborhood, but the shape of the building, which can reveal additions and relationships with its surrounding buildings. Plus, I have seen some things happen between different maps (see my comments on the Marysville Drive-In). I am someone interested in neighborhoods as well as theaters, and in demographics, so the mapping also reveals nearby historical landmarks…But that’s just me!

wulfgar64
wulfgar64 on March 15, 2008 at 6:52 am

The Meralta Theatre is alive and well as a Victory Outreach facility. It’s located at the northwest corner of 1st Street and St Louis St in Boyle Heights. It’s directly across St Louis St from LAPD’s Hollenbeck station.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 21, 2007 at 7:13 am

Ken, the Meralta isn’t even in that aerial photo. TerraServer got its little red dot way off in this case. The theatre is at the east (right hand) end of the block, on the north side of First Street. It’s just out of frame in that photo. You have to go to the large version of the photo, and then you can identify the Meralta’s building by the marquee jutting out from it.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 20, 2007 at 10:26 pm

It was listed as demolished until a few weeks ago. I posted the photos of the exterior taken in June, so I decided to add the aerial photo to show the general structure. If it hadn’t been declared demolished for so long, I wouldn’t have bothered.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 20, 2007 at 9:43 pm

The Meralta is the building casting the large shadow:
http://tinyurl.com/2rk97p

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 24, 2007 at 1:04 am

Here is an article from the LA Times dated 3/1/32:

Theater Owner Sues, Asserting Trade Restraint

An order to show cause as to why an injunction should not be issued to restrain them from continuing an asserted conspiracy to prevent Jack Berman, owner of the Meralta Theater at 2035 East First Street, from contracting for and purchasing films in the open market, was issued yesterday by United States District Judge Cosgrave against three individuals, a theater corporation and five motion picture distributing agencies.

Those named are Harry Popkins, Ray M. Robbins and Peter Lasher, the P.R. & L. Theaters Ltd, and Fox Film Corporation, RKO Distributing Corporation, RKO-Pathe Distributing Corporation, Vitagraph, Inc. and First National Distributing Corporation. These were the defendants in a bill in equity filed in the Federal Court on Saturday by Berman in which he charged them with conspiracy in restraint of trade.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 23, 2007 at 6:20 pm

The Meralta in East Los Angeles has not been demolished. It is now a church. I took some photos which I will post later. Status should be closed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2005 at 12:25 am

ken mc:

The pictures to which you linked above do not depict this Meralta Theatre on 1st Street in Los Angeles, but rather the Meralta Theatre in Culver City. There was a third Meralta Theatre, in Downey. All three of the theatres were originally owned by two sisters, Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta of Culver City. The name of the theatres was derived from the combination of parts of their surnames.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 24, 2005 at 10:06 pm

This is also the Meralta, according to the LA Library, in an earlier incarnation:

http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics32/00035850.jpg

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 24, 2005 at 10:04 pm

Here is a picture of the Meralta, courtesy of the LA Library:

http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics32/00035851.jpg

cat99fat
cat99fat on July 9, 2004 at 10:58 pm

There is now information about the Meralta, not Meralto that was on Downey ave in the city of Downey. It was also call New Meralta.

HarryLime
HarryLime on October 23, 2003 at 8:29 pm

Whoops! I typed too soon! Now if you could only get information on the Meralto Theatre at 330 North Downey Avenue, a single screener in Downey…

William
William on October 23, 2003 at 3:19 pm

The above comment about the Meralta Theatre is for the theatre in Culver City. Los Angeles had a Meralta Theatre located at 2035 E. 1st Street, near Downtown.