Midway Theatre

3138 W. Pico Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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The Midway Theatre was one of many neighborhood independent theaters that once lined the streets of Los Angeles. The Midway Theatre was opened in 1938 and closed in 1965. It sat for many years closed and boarded up, today it has been converted into a store.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

hadabob
hadabob on February 23, 2006 at 4:26 pm

The Midway Theatre was built in 1938. It was part of a complex that included a Safeway Market and a small cafe. The original seating was 525 if my memory is correct. It was similar in interior design to that of many small “c” theatres of this era in Los Angeles. ( i.e., the Sherman, Nuart, and the neighboring Victoria Theatre.) The interior was very similar to the Sherman in Sherman Oaks as both theatres were very similar in size and both shared simple murals to each side of the proscenium. The Midway’s murals were of two deer – one at each side which appear to jump and two trees on each side at the back of each deer. The background color was beige. The ceiling was orange with a 20" raised plaster band (grey) that circled the auditorium. The walls were sound absorbing material which were orange in color. Each section was separated by a concrete reinforced column, which was plaster-coated and painted burgundy with a tree in the center, which was painted gold, running from top to bottom. The carpeting was black wool with typical Art Deco bands. The seats were burgundy with gold deco bands on the isles. Originally, the lobby was the same color scheme. The restrooms were upstairs. The booth was in front and a terrazo floor greeted the patrons. Purple glass was under all the lobby posters.

The theatre was sold in 1965. It operated for 3 months after the new owners purchased it. Due to lack of patronage and subsequent non-payment of rent, it was closed and the marquee was then removed. It then began its ‘new life’ as a warehouse.

During this period (1965-1999) nothing changed inside and it remained as it was when it closed – save for the absence of seats, the screen and the projection equipment. The Western Electric amplifiers remained in place. The auditorium doors were painted red, matching the seats and carpets. The front doors were original. Bathrooms had terrazo floors and remained untouched. ( Even the green drinking fountain was in its place! )

In 2000 the new owners gutted the building.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 9, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Status should be closed.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 11, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Terror at the box office, 11/17/57, per the LA Times:

Auto Hits Box Office, Cashier Seriously Hurt

A 16-year old cashier in a motion picture theater at 3138 W. Pico Boulevard was seriously injured yesterday when the theater box office was nealy demolished by a car. The cashier was hospitalized with a crushed and fractured right leg. She told police that she was leaning back in her chair when the accident occurred and escaped the full impact of the automobile.

Police said the car careened out of control when it was struck in the rear by a westbound streetcar. No one aboard the steetcar was injured. The driver of the car received minor facial injuries.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 23, 2007 at 4:02 pm

The Midway was part of the independent theater lineup in this March 1942 LA Times ad:
http://tinyurl.com/2eo743

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 2, 2009 at 10:32 pm

From Boxoffice Magazine, October 8, 1938: “Lou Berkoff, owner of the La Tosca Theatre here, will start construction immediately on a new 600-seat house at Pico Blvd. and Manhattan Ave. Plans have been approved and Berkoff is awaiting a building permit.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 22, 2014 at 9:56 am

This item about the Midway Theatre is from the “Theatres Under Construction” of the December 16, 1938, issue of The Film Daily: “Los Angeles — New, 600 seats, 3140 Pico Blvd.; Builder: Frank A. Schilling; Architect: M. P. Miller; Operator: Louis Berkoff; To be completed 12-15-38.”

Architect Marcus P. Miller is little-known, even though he designed one of the iconic landmarks of Los Angeles; The Dark Room, a Wilshire Boulevard camera shop with a front designed to look like a camera. The Midway Theatre was built the same year as The Dark Room.

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