Plaza Theatre

138 S. Glassel Avenue,
Orange, CA 92866

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Colonial Theatre

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Plaza Theatre

Opened as the Colonial Theatre on September 4, 1914 with Mary Pickford in “Hearts Adrift”. It was one of Orange County’s first theatres and predated the Orange Theatre, which opened in 1929. Ed Yost, who later ran the Yost Theatre and Yost Broadway Theatre in Santa Ana, was its builder. The Colonial Theatre was built behind the Friedmann building, which is still standing, but its marquee and entrance were at the front of the Friedmann building.

I can only assume that there was a passageway leading through the Friedman building to the auditorium, which may have been at the back of the Friedmann building, where there is now a parking lot. Information on file at the Orange Public Library says there was originally seating for more than 500 but the fire marshall made the owner reduce the seating to slightly less than 500. Photographs of the Plaza Theatre are also available on the Orange Public Library’s website.

The Colonial Theatre closed in the 1930’s but was reopened on April 21 1945 by Jack Baldock’s Western Amusements under the name of the Plaza Theatre. According to the Victorville Daily Press, Baldock also managed the neighboring Orange Theatre and five theatres in Victorville, California.

The Plaza Theatre closed for good on February 15, 1951 and the auditorium was later demolished for the parking lot. Downtown Orange and the still-standing Orange Theatre, two blocks away, can be seen in many films including the “That Thing You Do” and “First Daughter”.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Lyght on March 30, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I was suspicious when I read on here that the building was demolished, because it looked very familiar. And I found out the building definitely wasn’t demolished. I went to Google Maps Street View to show this.

View link

Look at the window frames on the building in the center and the squiggly roof line on the building on the left, and compare to the previous commenter’s images. On the middle building in the current picture, you can also see the window under where the old billboard used to be. So, the marquee and theater may be gone, but not the building itself.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 7, 2008 at 8:33 pm

A 1946 aerial view from the Historic Aerials wesbsite shows the auditorium of this theater. It had an awfully small footprint.

<img src=“” /><br />Aerial photography from the past to the present!

MagicLantern on June 19, 2010 at 1:03 am

Street address of the theatre is Glassell, not Glassel.

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