High Street Arts Center

45 East High Street,
Moorpark, CA 93021

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The El Rancho Theatre was built in 1928 to replace a wooden structure that housed a silent movie theater on the site. The El Rancho was the only “talking movie” theater in the east end of Ventura County.

It closed as a movie house in the 1950’s to be used for activities such as school and community productions, a Spanish theater and a junk shop. It was re-opened as a live theater in 1982.

Now a city owned theatre with limited production genres. Melodrama is no longer permitted and it rarely offers youth or community-orientated performances, as it is quite expensive for most community groups to rent.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber, R. Moffat

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on June 17, 2004 at 1:18 pm

A very confusing history. Appearing in the city listings in 1926, the Moorpark Theatre (at 115 East High Street) is referred to as such through 1952, but an El Rancho Theatre is listed at the same address from 1938 through 1952. In 1957, an El Rancho Theatre appears at 43 High Street through 1960, renamed the following year as the Park Theatre and operating as a cinema for the next few years. The theatre (which still presents live theatre and music, albeit sporadically) has a website which is equally unrevealing…

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on October 4, 2004 at 11:49 am

Also known as the Egyptian Theatre in 1935.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2008 at 10:43 pm

How about some more confusion regarding Moorpark’s theatre? The California Index has cards referencing Southwest Builder & Contractor articles dated March 21 and July 18, 1930. The first article says that at a meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce they had discussed the feasibility of having a movie theatre erected in town. The second article announced that “Don Mentor is clearing the site and work will be started at once on a new theater building.” No location is mentioned on the cards. The index contains no other cards making reference to theatres in Moorpark.

My guess would be that there was only ever the one theatre operating in Moorpark in those days, and either the authors of the High Street Arts Center’s website got the date when the new building replaced the original wooden structure wrong, or the person who typed the cards for the California Index got the same wrong year on two cards. Odds of the latter event seem slim, so I’d surmise the actual construction date to be 1930.

VenturaR
VenturaR on April 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Just a quick comment on the suggestion that The High Street Arts Center no longer allows melodrama or presents community orientated events. As a matter of fact The High Street Arts Center now presents one of the best examples of a live variety show around today. The show is called The High Street Broadcast. This group performs monthly shows that are a throw back to the “old time” radio shows of the thirties and forties. With their sketch comedy, original music numbers and half hour “serials”, the Broadcast brings melodrama and much more to the HSAC. What a wonderful gift to the community and a perfect fit for such a beautiful historical landmark.

MagicLantern
MagicLantern on February 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Free films every 13th of the month all through 2010: View link

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