Bandbox Theatre

608 S. Hill Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Butler's Theatre, Los Angeles, 1910s

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This vanished theatre down Hill Street from Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles was opened by February 1912 as Butler’s Theatre, operated by A.L. Butler. In the early-1920’s it was renamed Shamrock Theatre. It was operated by the West Coast Theatre Circuit in 1924, when it was remodeled and the name was changed to Bandbox Theatre. It was closed in around 1929-1930 and demolished to build the William Fox Building.

Contributed by Joe Vogel, Cezar Del Valle

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 5, 2006 at 5:42 pm

I can no longer find the original references to the Shamrock Theatre (at the L.A. Library web site) the information from which I used when I added this theatre. The only card I can find now is one which makes reference to an article in Southwest Builder and Contractor, issue of December 26, 1924, which, with the heading “BANDBOX THEATRE”, says that the Los Angeles Art Commission had approved a marquee (designed by A.W. Kennett) for the theatre at 608 south Hill Street. I wonder if it’s possible that the theatre was called the Bandbox, then the Shamrock, then the Band Box?

vokoban
vokoban on January 5, 2006 at 6:25 pm

It could have changed its name back and forth. The earliest mention I’ve found of the Shamrock name is from 1923:

(Sept. 2, 1923)
Shamrock Theater, 608 South Hill Street
Sept. 2-Dorothy Gish in “The Ghost in the Garret.”

There is another fire reported at this address on July 22, 1929, but there is no name of the theater given.

In May of 1931 there are many advertisements for office rentals at the WM. Fox Office Building at 608 South Hill Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 5, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Speaking of theatre fires, I’m wondering if the Times has anything to say about the fires which I’ve heard occurred in several Edwards theatres in the 1940’s? I know that the Arcadia Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1942, and my neighborhood theatre, the Garvey, was gutted by a fire apparently set by an arsonist in about 1949 or 1950. When the Garvey was being restored, I remember my mom saying that “somebody is trying to burn down all the Edwards theatres”, but she has no memory of these events now. Most of Mr. Edwards' theatres were in the San Gabriel Valley then, but I believe he still had three or four in the city of Los Angeles, so the Times probably would have mentioned any fires at any of those, even if they didn’t run articles on fires in the suburban theatres.

vokoban
vokoban on January 6, 2006 at 4:48 am

Joe, I’ll look into those theaters and if I find anything I’ll put comments on their pages.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 8, 2006 at 1:01 pm

I’m wondering if perhaps the ornate, arched entrance on the far end of the building at the lower right in this c1913 photo might be the door of the Shamrock Theatre?

reluctantpopstar
reluctantpopstar on May 5, 2007 at 9:53 am

Kind of hard to make out in the picture, but I think it says “Burlesk” above the arch in that picture Joe mentions above. Anyone else think so?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 23, 2007 at 11:11 pm

This picture recently added to the L.A. Library’s on-line photo collection shows Hill Street south of 6th in what is probably the late 1920s. (The library’s information page about the photo misidentifies it as Spring Street ca1920.) At the very left can be seen part of the theatre’s marquee. Another, smaller marquee farther along the same building probably marks the entrance to the dance hall on the second floor.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 4, 2009 at 7:06 pm

The 1913 photo link I posted on Oct 8, 2006, has died. The picture is now here.

To very belatedly answer ScottS’s question from May 5, 2007, I think the name above the entrance is “Butler’s.” 608 S. Hill Street is listed as the location of Butler’s Theatre in the 1915 L.A. City Directory.

This earlier photo from the USC Archive (mis-dated as ca.1920, but the tall building on the southeast corner of 6th and Hill, built in 1913, isn’t there yet) shows a different style of facade, without the round arch. It looks vaguely Moorish. This might have been the original theater entrance, or a pre-theater storefront.

The chronology as determined so far would be this:

Probably opened in 1911; Butler’s Theatre from at least 1913; Shamrock Theatre in the early 1920s; Band Box (or Bandbox) Theatre from ca.1924; closed in 1929 or 1930.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 4, 2009 at 7:14 pm

So that round building across the street on 6th and Hill would be the predecessor to the Paramount/Metropolitan, right?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 4, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Yes, the round-cornered building was the First Methodist Episcopal Church, built ca.1890 and designed by architect John Austin. The congregation moved to a new church at 8th and Hope in 1920.

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