The Beverly, just north of Wilshire on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, was an exotic Chinese themed design by Lewis A. Smith that opened in 1925. The photo is from a 1928 issue of Motion Picture News about theatres decorated by Robert Powers Studio. See our page on the Beverly Theatre for more about the theatre. Sadly, after years as a clothing boutique and bank, the building was demolished in 2005.
The Mesa, at 5807 Crenshaw Blvd., was a 1926 design by Lewis A. Smith for West Coast Theatres. The 1400 seat theatre got its name from the street it was on, formerly called Angeles Mesa Drive. The photo is an early view from the Los Angeles Public Library. The Mesa closed in 1963, had a fire in 1964 and was demolished in 1965. See our page on the Mesa Theatre for more photos.
Also by Lewis A. Smith:
Academy Theatre, Pasadena (1925)
Beverly Theatre, Beverly Hills (1925)
Carmel/Paris Theatre, 8163 Santa Monica Blvd. (1925)
Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena (1925)
Highland Theatre, 5604 N. Figueroa (1925)
Fox Uptown, 1008 S. Western (1925)
El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd. (1926)
Fox Belmont, 126 S. Vermont (1926)
Fox Ritz, 5214 Wilshire (1926)
Imperial Theatre, Long Beach (1926)
Lido/Brooklyn Theatre, 2524 E. Cesar Chavez Blvd. (1926)
Olympic Theatre, 313 W. 8th St. (1927)
The Picwood, at 10872 W. Pico, was a 1948 S. Charles Lee design. It survived until 1985 when it was demolished to make way for the Westside Pavilions mall. In its later years, however, much of the original decor had been draped over. The view here from the upper seating level is from UCLA's S. Charles Lee Archive. See our page on the Picwood Theatre for more photos.
This 1700 seat suburban theatre by S. Charles Lee has him back in full Spanish revival mode in 1932. We get a patio to walk through, an ornate lobby and an arched entrance to the free parking out in back. This auditorium photo, evidently the only one to survive, was located by Ken McIntyre. See our Fox Florence page for more photos of other areas of the building. The theatre, at 1536 Florence Ave., closed in 1965 and was demolished in 1968. For more explorations with Mr. McIntyre, visit his Photos of Los Angeles page on Facebook.
The Academy, at 3141 W. Manchester Blvd. in Inglewood, is a 1939 S. Charles Lee design. Here we get an auditorium view by Julius Schulman from the UCLA S. Charles Lee Archives. The building is still mostly intact but is now used as a church. See our page on the Academy Theatre for more photos.
Not the biggest in town (only 2,190 seats) but certainly in the running for most opulent. This 1931 confection was S. Charles Lee in over-the-top French Baroque mode. It was a commission from H.L. Gumbiner, who had hired Lee in 1927 for his first theatre job, the Tower Theatre. See our many pages on the Los Angeles Theatre for hundreds of photos and lots more data about this wondrous building. It's still at 615 S. Broadway, although currently used only for filming and special events. The photo here is a 1931 view from the Los Angeles Public Library.
The Fox Wilshire in Beverly Hills, now called the Saban Theatre, opened in 1930. S. Charles Lee was in full art deco mode and his most interesting design decision was lots of metallic leaf. Not in gold as it would have been in the 20s but all in silver. See our page on the Fox Wilshire for many more views. The theatre survives as a venue for concerts, Broadway shows and special events. It continues to gradually reclaim its past glory through the ongoing restoration efforts of loving new owners. The 1930 photo is from the Mott-Merge collection at the California State Library.
The Tower, which opened in 1927 at 8th and Broadway, was S. Charles Lee's first theatre commission. His mission was to squeeze as many seats as possible into a theatre built on a 50' lot. After this job for H. L. Gumbiner he would go on to design hundreds more theatres including another one for the same owner, the Los Angeles Theatre. This sidewall view appeared in an article Lee wrote for the December 28, 1929 issue of Motion Picture News. See the Tower Theatre pages for more information about the theatre as well as many more photos.
A few more by S. Charles Lee:
Fox Wilshire Theatre (now the Saban), Beverly Hills (1930)
Los Angeles Theatre, 615 S. Broadway (1931)
Studio/Holly Theatre, 6523 Hollywood Blvd. (1931)
Fox Florence Theatre, 1536 E. Florence Ave. (1932)
Vogue Theatre, 6675 Hollywood Blvd. (1935)
La Reina Theatre, Sherman Oaks (1937)
Canyon Theatre, Tujunga (1938)
Tumbleweed Theatre, El Monte (1939)
Academy Theatre, Inglewood (1939)
Vern Theatre, 2811 E. Olympic (1940)
Admiral/Vine Theatre, 6321 Hollywood Blvd. (1940)
Star Theatre, La Puente (1947)
Picwood Theatre, 10872 W. Pico (1948)
Fox Theatre, Inglewood (with Carl Moeller, 1949)
Bay Theatre, Pacific Palisades (1949)
Garmar Theatre, Montebello (1950)
The c.1931 United Artists in Long Beach, at 217 E. Ocean Ave. was part of an early 30s expansion project by the chain as a result of a war with Fox West Coast. They evidently didn't think UA product was getting the dates or the returns it warranted in the Fox houses. Thus a big push to get their own theatres in prime locations. Many if not all of these were quite similar theatres designed by Walker and Eisen on a budget of $150,000 to $200,000. The firm had earlier done the office building (but not the theatre itself) for the flagship UA house downtown.
The UA Long Beach, now demolished, was similar to the theatres for the chain in East Los Angeles, on Wilshire (later called the Four Star), Pasadena and Inglewood. This one has the distinction of being the only one for which vintage interior photos survive. This view is in the collection of the California State Library. More can be seen on our page for the United Artists Long Beach.
And that war with Fox West Coast? Fox ended up running these houses for UA. Until the 50s that is, when consent decree settlements got UA in the business of actually running its own theatres.
The Million Dollar, at 3rd and Broadway, gets the prize as the first real Los Angeles movie palace. The photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection was taken in 1918, the year it opened. Second place goes to Billy Clune and the time when he was operating the Auditorium as a spectacular movie theatre. But the 1906 Auditorium building was built as a church. The Million Dollar was built from scratch to be the biggest and best movie theatre in town by Sid Grauman and Paramount, his silent partner. The highrise building with retail offices and was designed by A.C. Martin with the theatre by William Lee Woollett. See the Million Dollar Theatre pages for hundreds of photos and lots of data. It's still there and mostly intact.
By William Lee Woollett:
Million Dollar Theatre, 3rd & Broadway (1918)
Rialto Theatre, 812 S. Broadway (remodel, 1919)
Metropolitan Theatre, 6th & Hill (1923)
Strand Theatre, Long Beach (remodel, 1920s)
By Albert C. Martin
Jade/Wonderland Theatre, 315 S. Main St. (c.1908)
Liberty Theatre, 266 S. Main St. (c.1910)
Million Dollar Theatre, 3rd & Broadway (1918)
Town Theatre, 444. S. Hill St. (1920)
Boulevard Theatre, 1615 Washington Blvd. (1925)
William Lee Woollett wasn't involved in the original construction of the Rialto in 1917 (Oliver P. Dennis was the architect) but he got a chance to show his bizarre gifts when Sid Grauman and Paramount took it over in 1919 and gave it a plush interior remodel. The photo here is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection, where they date it as 1923. The building, at 812 S. Broadway, is still there as an Urban Outfitters store. The marquee is the only item of historic interest remaining. See our page on the Rialto Theatre for more information.
Grauman's Metropolitan, at 6th and Hill Streets, was Los Angeles' largest movie palace with 3600 seats. The house opened in 1923, was renamed the Paramount in 1928 and, sadly, was demolished in the 60s. The photo by Kopec is in the collection of the New York Public Library. Edwin Bergstrom designed the monumental retail and office building, William Lee Woollett designed the theatre. See our Metropolitan Theatre page for many more views.
This theatre, at 235 West Pike Ave. in the Long Beach amusement area, opened around 1910 as the Columbia. It was a combination film and vaudeville house that in the 20s was known as Hoyt's and, later, the Strand. The original architect is unknown but it's suspected that the 20s remodel was the work of William Lee Woollett (1874-1955), who had earlier done the Million Dollar, the Metropolitan and a remodel of the Rialto for Sid Grauman. In any case, it's a strange job (as all of Woollett's work was). The undated photo is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. See our page on the Strand Theatre for more information and other interior photos. As the Strand, the theatre operated into the 60s but now, along with the rest of The Pike, is gone.
While C. Howard Crane designed hundreds of theatres, the United Artists was the Detroit-based architect's only west coast commission. The UA opened in 1927 and was similar in its Gothic theme to houses Crane designed for the circuit in Chicago and Detroit. Crane's local partner for the project was Walker and Eisen, who would go on to do many other smaller theatres for United artists Theatre Circuit in Berkeley, Long Beach, Pasadena, Inglewood and on Wilshire Boulevard. Here they did the office building, the theatre was all Crane's. The photo comes from the Mott-Merge collection of the California State Library. See our many pages on the United Artists Theatre for other photos. The building now has a new life as the Ace Hotel with a revitalized theatre on the horizon.
More by Walker and Eisen:
Temple/El Rey Theatre, Alhambra (1921)
Roosevelt/Fox Parisian, 803 S. Vermont (1922)
United Artists Theatre (building only, 1927)
Four Star Theatre, Wilshire Blvd. (c.1931)
United Artists, Long Beach (c.1931)
United Artists, Inglewood (1931)
United Artists, East Los Angeles (c.1931)
United Artists, Pasadena (1931)
Platt Music Building, 834 S. Broadway (1927)
| LAPL photo |
Hotel Normandie, Koreatown (1928)
| LA Curbed article |
As with the 1926 El Capitan, Morgan, Walls & Clements again worked with G. Albert Lansburgh on the Wiltern project. MW&C did the extraordinary turquoise terracotta clad Pellissier Building, the theatre was Lansburgh's. The theatre, office tower and adjacent retail wings were all exuberantly art deco. The photo is a 1931 Mott Studios of the opening festivities from the California State Library. See the Wiltern Theatre page for more views inside and out. Once slated for the wrecking ball, this landmark at 3900 Wilshire is now a concert venue and restored office and retail space.
Morgan Walls and Clements designed this handsome retail and office building at 6838 Hollywood Blvd. The building, with its El Capitan Theatre, opened in 1926. Although the firm did a number of theatres, the auditorium (designed not for movies but as a legit playhouse) was by G. Albert Lansburgh. The 1927 Mott Studios photo is from the California State Library collection. See our pages on the El Capitan for more on the theatre, now (after a restoration) a first run showcase for Disney films with occasional stage use as well.
We may never know what the Cabrillo looked like originally. It was a Meyer and Holler design dating from 1923. The photo here, from the Los Angeles Public Library, looks like the auditorium after a 40s "modernization." It does look like they left the columns on each side alone as well as the lovely asbestos curtain. The poor Cabrillo, which was at 115 W. 7th St. in San Pedro, was demolished in 1958. You'll find more data and photos on our page for San Pedro Theatres.
The Warner Hollywood, at 6433 Hollywood Blvd., is a 1928 creation of G. Albert Lansburgh. It's almost an atmospheric. The auditorium has a ceiling dome (once with projected clouds) and a side colonnade with murals behind -- but no twinkling stars. This pre-opening photo comes from the Los Angeles Public Library. In the 50s it became the Southern California home of Cinerama and was later triplexed. It now sits vacant with its last operator, Pacific Theatres, still owning the building. We'll see what's next. Our Warner Theatre pages have many photos of this magnificent building.
As with the 1926 El Capitan, G. Albert Lansburgh here was again teamed with Morgan, Walls & Clements, but for a different owner and in a different time. MW&C did the extraordinary turquoise clad Pellissier Building, the theatre was Lansburgh's. Unlike the earlier Spanish revival El Capitan, this was the time for something quite different: art deco had arrived. The photo is a 1931 Mott Studios view from the California State Library. See the Wiltern Theatre page for more views inside and out. Once slated for the wrecking ball, this landmark at 3900 Wilshire is now a concert venue.
1926 was a busy year for G. Albert Lansburgh. Here at the El Capitan he didn't have to do the office/retail building -- Morgan Walls & Clements handled that. But the auditorium, designed not for movies but as a legit playhouse, was all his. The early photo is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. See our pages on the El Capitan for more on the theatre, now (after a restoration) a first run showcase for Disney films with occasional stage use as well.