220 N. Bush Street,
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Firms: Austin & Wildman
Previous Names: Temple Theatre
Located at the corner of N. Bush Street and E. 3rd Street. The Temple Theatre opened on February 1, 1909, at a cost of $15,000, making it the first theatre in Santa Ana and Orange County. L.A. Schlesinger, its then owner, closed it in July of 1915 to make way for his West End Theatre in Santa Ana, which he described as being “especially designed for the showing of cinematography productions”. Over the years, according to newspapers archives, the Temple Theatre was opened and closed many times.
On September 24, 1936 its grand opening as Walker’s Theatre was announced in the Santa Ana Register. Charles Walker, veteran Santa Ana exhibitor, and his son Victor did a $75,000 remodeling which included the lowering of the floor. The result was an 884-seat house whose streamline exterior complimented the Art Deco style City Hall next door. Even the backs of the seats were streamlined with chrome bars to make them easy to see in the dark. Its opening attraction was Shirley Temple in “Poor Little Rich Girl” and a Joe E. Brown second feature.
Charles Walker’s previous theatres in town included his Princess Theatre, Walker’s State (the West End) and the New Walker Theatre, which later became the Fox West Coast Theatre. Walker also at one time owned the Surf Theatre in Huntington Beach.
By 1952 it was owned by Cabart Theatres and playing B-pictures. That changed on February 26, 1952 when the Broadway Theatre was gutted by fire and Cabart moved its first-run lineup to the Walker Theatre and reopened the old State Theatre for B- and second-run fare. The New Broadway Theatre opened in 1955 and the Walker Theatre resumed its old B-picture schedule. The last time the Walker Theatre appeared in the movie listing was on June 12, 1956 with “Man behind the Gun” and “The Road to Denver”.
Around 1957, according to Santa Ana Register archives, Cabart Theatres was undergoing financial difficulties and defaulted on a loan on their local State Theatre. Charles Walker regained control over the State Theatre and remodeled it for first-run films but it appears that the Walker Theatre never reopened.
A newspaper article on December 6, 1962 said that the Walker Theatre was purchased by the city and was being demolished to make way for a City Hall parking lot. A photo of its demolition, which was to be completed by March 19, 1963, appeared in the Santa Ana Register on February 10, 1963.
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