Start your Los Angeles area historic theatre explorations by heading to one of these major sections:
| Downtown | Hollywood | Westside | Westwood/Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] L.A. Movie Palaces |
To see what's recently been added to the mix visit the Theatres in Movies site and the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page.

Navigating Your Tour of Historic Los Angeles Theatres

Easy search option #1: Select one of the five basic categories and go browsing: Downtown Theatres | Hollywood Theatres | Westside Theatres | Westwood and Brentwood | Theatres Along the Coast. Or hit the section for all the leftovers: [more] L.A. Movie Palaces.

If you have a name -- search option #2: Hit the Main Alphabetical List, which also includes the various alternate names each venue has used. This list includes those pages recently transferred to this site (in bold face) as well as the write ups on the older website. Note: Long Beach is on a separate list on the older site.

If you know an address, more or less - search option #3: Head to either the Main Theatre List by Address, the San Fernando Valley List by Address, the San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier List by Address or the Long Beach List. If what you're looking for isn't there, you'll find a link to take you to a more localized list for Downtown, Hollywood, etc.

Also of interest: The L.A. Theatres Facebook page lets you know what new items have been added or pages upgraded. The Theatres In Movies site tracks L.A. area theatres that have appeared in films.

Still can't find what you're looking for?  Send me an email at counterb@gmail.com. See you at the movies! -- Bill Counter

This site on a Mobile Device: If you find what you're looking for via this post, terrific. But also note that you can go to the bottom of any page and click on "View Web Version" to get the navigation links at the top of the page and the long list down the right side.



Downtown L.A. Historic Theatres

The survey page gives a rundown on the 20 major surviving theatre buildings in the Downtown Theatre District. There are links to pages about each of them for more detail. You might also want to consult alphabetical rundowns on pages for Hill St. and farther west, the Broadway Theatres, Spring St. Theatres and Main St. and farther east. Those pages give you more detail, including discussions about all the theatres that have vanished.

In addition, there's a downtown alphabetical theatre list with alternate names and a theatre list by address.


Historic Hollywood Theatres

Hollywood wasn't just about the movies. Starting in the mid 20s it was also a center for legitimate theatre and musical revues at four newly built playhouses. You'll find an alphabetical list of the theatres in the district on the Hollywood Theatres overview page that includes a bit of data on each and links to pages for more details. Down below this list there's also an alternate name directory.

Also of possible interest is a separate section with a list of theatres by street address.



 Westside Theatres

The Westside started booming with retail and housing in the mid 20s and the theatres followed. Many theatres along Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills, and in other neighborhoods became prime venues for everything from small foreign films to major roadshows. It's a huge territory. The Westside Theatres overview page gives you both a list by neighborhood as well as a survey arranged alphabetically.

Also see the list of Westside Theatres: by street address and the Westside Theatres: alphabetical list page which includes alternate names.


Westwood and Brentwood

Westwood Village was the third significant theatre district to evolve in Los Angeles, after Downtown and Hollywood. With the construction of the UCLA campus beginning in the late 20s there was a chance to develop a unique shopping and entertainment district for faculty and students. By the 1970's the area had evolved so that Westwood had the largest concentration of first run screens of any neighborhood in Los Angeles. The Westwood and Brentwood Theatres overview page will give you a tour of the area.



Theatres Along the Coast

Santa Monica had a vibrant theatrical life even in the days when it was a small town isolated from the rest of Los Angeles. And that's just the beginning. The Along the Coast section will give you links to theatres in Ocean Park, Venice, Hermosa Beach, San Pedro, Long Beach and other communities.



[more] L.A. Movie Palaces

This section tries to fill in all the other areas of Los Angeles County. You'll find links to separate survey pages on theatres North of Downtown, San Fernando Valley Theatres, Long Beach, Pasadena, Glendale, Theatres, and lots more. The index page has links to all these theatres organized by area.

More resources: If you are still having trouble finding what you're looking for, these pages might help. The alphabetical lists also include alternate names for each venue.
- Downtown Theatres: alphabetical name list
- Downtown Theatres: by street address
- Westside Theatres: alphabetical name list
- Westside Theatres: by street address
- Hollywood Theatres: by street address
- Main Los Angeles County Historic Theatres list: alphabetical
- Main Los Angeles County Theatres list: by address
- San Fernando Valley Theatres list: by street address
- San Gabriel Valley, Pomona and Whittier Theatres list: by street address
- Film and Theatre Technology Resources
- Theatre History Resources
- Theatre list by Architect
- Theatre Tours and Events

Happy touring! Please contact me if you spot errors, links that don't work, etc. 

Criterion Theatre

642 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90017 | map |


LOTS MORE TO COME. CHECK BACK IN A COUPLE DAYS!



Opening: December 15, 1917 as the Kinema with Cecil B. DeMille's "The Woman God Forgot" with Geraldine Farrar. DeMille himself served as master of ceremonies. The opening of the theatre was covered on page 65 of the January 5, 1918 issue of Moving Picture World.

It's a 1920 photo from the collection of Fred McSpadden, longtime California and Arizona theatre manager. On the back Fred wrote: "Note STEAM URNS each side of front - At night steam flowed - with colored lights shooting thru steam." He noted he was on the house staff here as "doorman and asst. mgr." Also on the back: "Photo by J.C. Milligan, 422 1/2 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, California PLEASE CREDIT."  And so we have.

Fred was quoted in the Arizona Daily Star of May 3, 1959 talking about the Kinema: "I had best time of my life there…any afternoon of the week you could expect Charlie Chapman, Lon Chaney, Mary Pickford or some other famous star to show up for a matinee. They would just walk in and sit down." Thanks to Bill Buehler of the Memories Project at the Tucson Fox for sharing the photo.

The theatre was designed specifically for films -- the stage was only 7' deep. Too bad that Grand Ave. never developed into a theatre district. The building was on the west side of the street between 6th and 7th. It's just south of Wilshire but that didn't get cut through until the 1930s. What is now Wilshire a few blocks west of Grand was formerly called Orange St. Down in the next block was the Grand Theatre

Architect: Architect William J. Dodd and engineer William Richards of the firm Dodd and Richards designed one of the earliest deluxe film houses downtown. It was a project for the Kehrlein Brothers with Shirley C. Ward acting as contractor.

Seating: 1,856



On October 21, 1917 the L.A. Times reported "Gallery Stands a Severe Test" as 6,000 bags of concrete (1,500,000 pounds total) were placed on the balcony as a load test. Thanks to John Crosse for finding the L.A. Times item. It appears in a 2012 Southern California Architectural History post of his that covers an amazing variety of theatrical topics (in addition to the Kinema opening) and includes discussion of personages as varied as Rudolph Schindler, Edward Weston and Frank Lloyd Wright.

By 1918 Thomas Tally had control of the theatre. It's listed in the 1919 city directory as Tally's Kinema. By 1920 it was operating under the direction of the Gore Bros. and Sol Lesser. In the 1918, 1921 and 1922 directories it's just called the Kinema again.



A Kinema ad from March 1920 in the Vintage Cinema Adverts collection of Charmaine Zoe on Flickr.



A 1923 L.A. Times ad for Charlie Chaplin's "The Pilgrim," a February release. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for including the ad in his Noirish post #5739.  

Later in 1923 it became the Criterion Theatre with "A Woman of Paris," written and directed by Chaplin, as the gala re-opening attraction.

Vitaphone at the Criterion: In 1927 Warner Bros. leased the Criterion for the west coast premiere of "The Jazz Singer" on December 28, 1927. Al Jolson put in an appearance at the premiere. 



An ad on the side of an unidentified building for "The Jazz Singer" at the Criterion and "Sunrise" at the Carthay Circle. The photo is from the Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection, part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library Digital Collection.
full size view

"The Jazz Singer" was expected to run 6 months but lasted only until the end of February 1928, when it moved over 3 blocks to Tower Theatre, where it had earlier done a sneak preview. See the Film & Theatre Tech page for more on Vitaphone.

Becoming a Fox House: In March of 1928, the Criterion was taken over by Fox. An item in the March 28, 1928 issue of Variety (on Internet Archive) said they were going to call it "The Movietone House" and have "Sunrise" and the "Four Sons" as their first two features. The article also mentioned that the sort of Fox presentations that had been playing the Carthay Circle ("at $1.50 top") would now go into the Criterion. They termed the format a "de luxe grind policy."

Soon William Fox took over the West Coast Theatres circuit and this house was folded in. In February 1929 it started to be advertised as the Fox Criterion.

70mm Fox Grandeur process at the Criterion: Parts of "Fox Movietone Follies of 1929" (or perhaps the whole film) were run in 70mm in New York at the Gaiety Theatre. Also on the program in New York was a 70mm Fox Movietone newsreel. The film opened at the Criterion on May 24, 1929. It's unknown whether the Los Angeles premiere at the Criterion was in 70mm. The "70mm & Wide Gauge: The Early Years" page on the informative website From Script to DVD lists the Criterion run but who knows? The "Grandeur" page on In70mm.com discusses the "Follies" issue.

Theatres running the Grandeur process used specially built Simplex projectors designed to accommodate the widescreen process. You'll find more on Fox Grandeur on the projection & sound page for the Carthay Circle, which definitely got equipped (as did Grauman's Chinese). Also see the Film & Theatre Tech page for more about the process.

Tally's involvement: Thomas Tally either had owned the building from 1919 to the end or had lost it and regained ownership. In any case, his name resurfaces in connection with the theatre from about 1933 onward. Between 1933 and 1938 it was being called Tally's Criterion.



A 1934 ad for "Angkor" at Tally's Criterion. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it. See the Cameo Theatre page for a timeline of Tally's other exhibition adventures.

The theatre ended its days called the Grand Wilshire.

Status: Tally was advertising the property for sale in 1941. It was then demolished that year to make room for an office building that didn't happen. The site was a parking lot for decades. There's now a mechanical plant there for the One Wilshire building next door.


More exterior views: 


c.1917 - An early shot from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  



1921 - A rare view of the Kinema from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives. They're playing "Lessons in Love" starring Constance Talmadge. Also on the bill was the "Royal Purple Syncopated Orchestra." The photo appears on page 37 of the Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres in Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Mr. Wanamaker. There's a preview of the book you can browse on Google Books.




1921 - Usherettes in front of the Kinema. Thanks to Stacey Hartley for sharing the photo from her collection.



1921 - Usherette Bernice Cooper at the Kinema. It's a photo from Stacey Hartley's collection. Bernice Cooper was her grandmother.



1924 - The Criterion is down in the lower right in this photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1929 - The facade during the run of the "Fox Movietone Follies of 1929," a May release. The photo appears with "Harold B. Franklin Analyzes Theatre Personality," an article in the Motion Picture News issue of December 28, 1929. It's on Internet Archive. The Los Angeles Public Library also has the photo in their collection.



c.1929 - An aerial view by Dick Whittington Studio in the USC Digital Library collection. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the photo for his Noirish post #5739, where he also has other Criterion views.  



c.1929 - A detail from the Dick Whittington photo. The sign on the roof says "Fox Criterion 'Dynamite' Now." The Cecil B. DeMille film was a  December 1929 release. On the side wall they're advertising Lon Chaney in "Phantom of the Opera" from 1925. The sign across the top of the facade announces the theatre as the "House of Hits."



1930 - A Dick Whittington panoramic shot in the USC Digital Library collection that was taken from the top of the Richfield Building tower shortly after its completion. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor HossC for finding the photo for his Noirish post #24347, where he's got a giant size version of it. It's down below another very similar shot, also by Dick Whittington, that's in the Library of Congress collection.



1930 - Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor HossC for this detail he's made of the area around 7th and Grand from USC's Dick Whittington photo. Hoss has it on his Noirish post #24347.



1930 - A closer look at the Criterion from the USC Dick Whittington panoramic shot. The signage on the theatre's north wall advertises "King of Jazz," an April release with Paul Whiteman.



1930 - Joan Crawford in "Paid," a December 1930 release. The photo is included in the Herald Examiner collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.



1931 - A look at the entrance of the Criterion for "Bad Girl" that was featured in a two page spread about the great uses the theatre was making of its display case area in the October 3, 1931 issue of the Motion Picture Herald. It's on Internet Archive.



1931 - "Your Show Window! Are You Using It?" It's another view from the October 3 Motion Picture Herald article. The feature the week of the photo was Cecil B. DeMille's "Madam Satan."

The article also has smaller photos showing details of the way the display cases were dressed for "A Connecticut Yankee," "All Quiet on the Western Front," "Transatlantic" and "Secret Six."



1931 - "Criterion Says It With Big Letters" was a fine spread in the October 10, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald showing the impact of large changeable letters on the facade of "The House of Hits." Also note the changeable copy up on the roof sign.



c.1931 - Looking east from 7th and Figueroa toward the Criterion in the distance right of center. The blocks between Figueroa and Grand would soon get sliced up for an extension of Orange St. as part of Wilshire Blvd. The California Historical Society photo appeared in a 2010 post on the site Urban Diachrony where they credit it to the USC Digital Library collection. Thanks to Sebi Garcia for finding the image for a 2013 post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



1934 - A December view east from Figueroa after Wilshire was cut through. There's a parking lot at Grand where Wilshire deadends. A bit of the Criterion facade is visible just to the right of that. The California Historical Society / USC Digital Library photo appears in a 2010 post on the site Urban Diachrony. They note that while the widening of Wilshire between MacArthur Park and Figueroa St. wasn't completed until 1934, the three block extension between Figueroa and Grand was punched through in 1931.

The Criterion was demolished in 1941.



1946 - Looking west across Grand toward the extension of Wilshire Blvd. The site of the Criterion is out of the frame to the left. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo.



1946 - Another parking lot view looking a bit farther north on Grand. One Wilshire is now on the site of this parking lot. Thanks again to Ken McIntyre for locating the photo. 



2018 - The site of the Criterion. 7th St. is off to the right. Photo: Bill Counter 

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Criterion Theatre for lots of information unearthed by Joe Vogel, Jeff Bridges and a number of other contributors.

See the post by Nathan Marsak about the architects, Dodd and Richards, on the blog On Bunker Hill.

| back to top | Downtown: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east | downtown theatres by address | downtown theatres alphabetical list

| Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Ebell Club

1719 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90015 | map |


Opened: This new Ebell Club building opened around 1905. Note the auditorium in back. The group's first Los Angeles building of their own was on Broadway south of 7th. Before that they had rented an auxiliary building from a church. The club was founded in 1897 and had branches in several Los Angeles area communities including South L.A., Highland Park and Long Beach.

Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the c.1909 postcard on eBay for his Noirish post #3500. The card is based on a C. C. Pierce photo from the California Historical Society that's in the USC Digital Library collection.

The club moved to their current building on Wilshire in 1927, a complex that includes the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. In late 1927 they leased out this Figueroa building for $200 a month to a group operating the venue as the Community Playhouse.



An October 9, 1927 article about the formation of the Community Playhouse. Thanks to Bruce Monson for finding the article.

Status: It's not known how long the building was operated by the Community Playhouse or what its life was after 1927. It survived into the early 30s at least but was later demolished. There are now single story commercial buildings on the site. The location is just south of the I-10 freeway on the west side of the street.



A 1927 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A postcard of the Ebell from Elizabeth Fuller's Old Los Angeles Postcards collection on Flickr. Thanks, Elizabeth!



A 1929 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 



A later view after the ivy had gotten out of control. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the snapshot on eBay for inclusion with his Noirish post #3500. The post also features many photos of the current Ebell building on Wilshire.



A 1933 photo from the Herald Examiner. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



The west side of the 1700 block of Figueroa now. We're looking north with the 10 freeway on the right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018

More information:  See Jennifer Steinhauer's August 2010 New York Times Article "A Sanctuary for Women, Even Today" for a nice history of the club and its activities.

Noirish Los Angeles contributor Gaylord Wilshire has photos of the South L.A. and Hancock Park Ebell buildings on his Noirish post #3508. He has an additional photo from USC of the Highland Park building on his post #3509.


The earlier Ebell buildings downtown:


The cottage in the foreground was first Ebell building downtown. The signage above the entrance says "Ebell." It was a rental from the adjacent church. The photo from the California Historical Society appears on the USC Digital Library website where it's dated as 1900.



A c.1905 view of the Ebell Club building on Broadway south of 7th St. It's a C.C. Pierce photo in the Huntington Library collection. It's also in the USC Digital Library collection from the California Historical Society.

| back to top | Downtown: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east | downtown theatres by address | downtown theatres alphabetical list

| Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Gamut Auditorium

1044 S. Hope St.  Los Angeles, CA 90015  | map |


Opened: 1904 as an exclusively male musical society by L.E. Behymer and other L.A. musicians. Soon the Gamut Club broadened its focus to other types of artists as well as local people of "artistic tastes." This 1926 view of the Gamut Club is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Behymer was also involved in the production of opera at Hazard's Pavilion and became the head of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, presenting at the later building on the site at 5th and Olive, the Philharmonic Auditorium.

Seating: 668 in the auditorium plus various other meeting, banquet rooms and music studios. The club was the scene of a great variety of musical performances.

Status: The building has been demolished. It's unknown when the club ceased to be active. Late 20s perhaps? It's listed in the 1923 city directory under "theatres."



Looking south on Hope toward 11th St. The site of the Gamut Club is now a parking lot. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018

More Information: See the Online Archive of California pdf about the Gamut Club.

| back to top | Downtown: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east | downtown theatres by address | downtown theatres alphabetical list

| Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Granada Theatre

1044 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, CA 90012 | map |


Opened: 1913 as the Owl Theatre. It was on the south side of Temple St. between the 110 and Beaudry Ave.

This October 1963 photo appears on Flickr. It's from nearly nineteen minutes of footage taken for the Temple Urban Renewal Project by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. The footage appears on the USC Digital Library website. Thanks to Nathan Marsak for the links.

Seating: 520 after renovarions due to a street widening.


Architect: Milwaukee Building Co.

Cinema Treasures researcher Joe Vogel found this item in the October 12, 1912, issue of Southwest Contractor & Manufacturer:

"BRICK THEATER—The Milwaukee Building Co., 317 Wright & Callender Bldg., has prepared plans and has the contract at $13,127 for the erection of a 1-story brick theater building on Temple St. near Beaudry Ave. for D. S. Kornblum. Concrete foundation, 50x140 ft., enameled glazed brick front, Silveroid roof, marble and tile lobby, staff work, tile cornice, ornamental iron grilles, steel I beams, plate and leaded glass, pine and birch trim, plumbing, electric wiring." 

Thanks, Joe!  The Milwaukee Building Co. was later the construction arm of the design firm Meyer & Holler.



A 1914 ad for the Owl. It's a detail from an ad listing 31 theatres. Jeff Bridges has the whole thing on Flickr.
 
The theatre is in the 1914 through 1922 city directories as the Owl. In the 1915 directory there's a listing at this address for W H Mansdorfer as the proprietor.

The Arcadia book "Theatres in Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker notes on page 27 that the Owl's management sued the City of Los Angeles in 1929 over the fact that building alterations necessitated by the widening of Temple St. would cost them 155 seats.

The theatre still is listed as the Owl in the 1932 city directory. It's unknown when it got the Granada Theatre name. It shows up with the new name in the 1936 directory.

It was always an independently operated theatre. In the 1950s it was run by Harold Wenzler, who also had the Lux Theatre at 827 W. 3rd St. and the Oaks Theatre in Pasadena.

Status: The theatre was demolished as part of a 1960s urban renewal project. The site became a parking lot for a large data center building. As of late 2018 the property was getting redeveloped again as an apartment complex by developer Geoff Palmer.

The Owl Theatre in the Movies: Cinema Treasures contributor Trolleyguy reports that the theatre makes a brief appearance in the 1924 Harold Lloyd film "Girl Shy." See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Culver City Theatre appearing in the film.

The Granada on TV: 


The Granada made an appearance in "Search in a Windy City," a 1963-64 season episode of "The Fugitive." Thanks to cop show detective Walter Simard for spotting the theatre about 4 1/2 minutes into the episode.



The site in 2017 with a data center there that's now been demolished. Photo: Google Maps 

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Granada for lots of interesting data.

Other Granada theatres include the building that ended up as the Oriental Theatre at 7425 Sunset Blvd. There was a Walter Reade operated venue at 9000 W. Sunset in the 60s and 70s called the Granada.

Inglewood had a Granada on Market St., later the site of the Fox Inglewood. The photo on page 37 of the Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres in Los Angeles" identified as the Granada on Temple is actually the Granada in Inglewood. There was also a Granada in Wilmington

| back to top | Downtown: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east | downtown theatres by address | downtown theatres alphabetical list

| Westside | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Along the Coast | [more] Los Angeles movie palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resources | theatres in movies | LA Theatres on facebook | contact info | welcome and site navigation guide |

Grand Theatre

730 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90017 | map |


Opened: December, 1908 as the Walker Theatre (built for George Walker) with programs of Sullivan and Considine vaudeville and movies. Afrer using a long string of other names it ended up as the Grand Theatre.

The photo is a July 1946 view taken shortly before the theatre's demolition. It's from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The theatre was on the east side of Grand south of 7th St. --  just north of where Whole Foods now is.

Architects: Eisen and Son designed the six story building (called the Walker Auditorium Building) which contained a number of other halls (such as Lincoln Hall, Roosevelt Hall) and music studios in addition to the main theatre. The architectural firm evolved into Walker & Eisen and worked on many other theatres.

Seating: 900

It was known as the Nielson Theatre in 1910 after a remodel for use by a stock company. The Neilson name got into the 1910 city directory. 

In 1911 it was again the Walker and operated by Arthur Hyman. Hyman also had the College Theatre on Hill and the Garrick at 8th & Broadway. The 1911 city directory has it moved over to 730 S. Broadway, a typo. At some point it was called Clune's Grand Avenue Theatre. See the page about the Cameo Theatre for a timeline of Billy Clune's other exhibition ventures.  

After Clune left, the theatre was back to the Walker name. The 1912 city directory has it as the Walker. From August 1912 until 1915 it was the Mozart, (or the Grand Ave. Mozart) under the direction of Mrs. Anna M. Mozart. It's the Mozart in the 1912 directory.



An ad in the July 20, 1912 issue of Moving Picture World from the Mozart -- looking for films and staff. Ladies only need apply: "The management will employ (only) lady help -- from Manager to ushers -- MAKING IT THE ONLY THEATRE IN THE U.S. EMPLOYING EXCLUSIVELY LADIES."  Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar Del Valle for finding the ad. It's featured in his Bijou Dreams post about the Mozart.

The Moving Picture World issue of August 17, 1912 discussed the Mozart:

"The new Mozart motion picture theater, which opened August 5, is unique in that it is conducted almost entirely by women. The only male employee on the premises is the operator in the projection booth. The proprietor and manager is Mrs. Anna M. Mozart. All her assistants–ushers, ticket sellers, doorkeepers, the musical director–even the press agent–are women. There is a ‘policewoman’ on duty at each performance.

"The new enterprise is housed in the Walker Theater, formerly a regular playhouse, on Grand Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets. It has a seating capacity of about 900 and before it opened its doors Mrs. Mozart spent nearly $25,000 in getting ready. The largest single item of expense was $10,000, which was invested in a Photoplayer, the first of its size to be installed on the coast. It is an instrument designed to take the place of a full orchestra but it can be operated by one person.

"The one in the Mozart Theater is 25 feet long, eight feet wide and ten feet high and occupies the entire orchestra pit. Inside it are thousands of pipes and reeds, a piano and the necessary apparatus for producing 33 different sound effects, such as bird calls, locomotive bell and whistle, thunder, rain, horse trots, cannon, drums, cymbals, castanets and tambourine. Another feature is a set of reeds which reproduces the tones of the human voice.

"Nothing but big special features will be shown in the house. Among the films advertised to be shown in the near future are Blanche Walsh in 'Resurrection,' 'St. George and the Dragon,' 'The Raven,' Nat Goodwin in 'Nathan Hale,' 'Custer’s Last Fight,' and 'The Odyssey.' Summer prices will be 10, 15 and 25 cents." 



An ad in the October 5, 1912 issue of Moving Picture World extolling the virtues of the Fotoplayer installed at the Mozart. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for finding the ad and the August 17 article for his Bijou Dreams post.

Anna Mozart disappeared at some point. In a 1915 ad the theatre had become the Brooks Theatre. By February 1916 it had become the Strand, a film house, opening with Sarah Bernhardt in "Jeanne Dore," a 1915 release. Despite the name changes, there are still references well into 1916 calling it the Mozart Theatre Building. It's still called the Strand (at least on the back and one side) in 1917 and later photos.

In the 1917, 18 and 19 city directories it's called Walker Auditorium. In 1918 L.A. Times ads it was running as legit house called Walker's Theatre Beautiful. In the 1923 city directory it's the Walker. In 1923 and 1924 it was known the Grand Avenue. It was also known as the Fine Arts in 1924.

It became the Orange Grove from 1924-29 and the Actor's Theatre from 1929-1935. It was the Grand International Theatre and running films again from 1935 to 1937. The name was shortened to Grand Theatre in 1937.



A pass to get into the theatre for the play "Wedding Night" in 1941 when it had "comfortable seating" and was known as the Grand Playhouse. It's from the collection of Walnut Park based historian Wally Shidler. Thanks to theatre explorer and archivist Michelle Gerdes for photographing it..

The theatre ended its life as the Grand in 1946. Its last chapter involved showing first run films from Russia and Europe. Herb Rosener was the last operator. The building was owned by the eastate of George Walker.

Status: It was demolished in 1946 to provide additional parking for the Robinson's department store. There's now a mixed use building on the site with a Whole Foods on the ground floor and housing above.


More exterior views:


Looking south on Grand from 7th Street, perhaps around 1912. It's a photo by Martin Behrman in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The photo also appears in the California State Library collection. Note the "Theatre" sign on the stagehouse. And check out that nice fire escape access to the grid.



A detail of the signage from the Martin Behrman photo. "Clune's" has been painted out. 



A 1913 look at the theatre as the Mozart. It's a photo by G. Haven Bishop, part of a set he did for the Southern California Edison Co. It's in the Huntington Library collection.



A detail from the 1913 G. Haven Bishop photo. 



"Safest Theatre in the City" - "Exclusive Motion Pictures." This view by E. P. Chase of the north side of the building is in the Huntington Library collection. It's another that was taken for Southern California Edison.



A c.1913 view with the theatre's stagehouse on the left. Grand Ave. is out of the frame to the left. We're looking northeast with 8th St. running left to right at the bottom of the photo and Olive the north/south street. It's a photo by Bailey from the California Historical Society that's in the USC Digital Library collection.

The large whitish building in the center is the Los Angeles Athletic Club at 7th & Olive, opened in 1912. To its right in 1920 would rise the Pantages, later renamed the Warner. At the right there's Bullocks at 7th & Broadway. In the distance left of the Athletic Club note Central Park (renamed Pershing Square in 1918) and the the building that would later be called the Philharmonic Auditorium.



A detail of the stagehouse from the c.1913 USC photo. 



A November 1917 look west from the Lankershim Hotel at the southeast corner of 7th and Broadway. The back of the theatre, here called the Strand, is in the distance at the center, just left of the smokestack. This is panel #2 of a four part panorama by C.C. Pierce in the USC Digital Library  collection.

The street we're looking up at the right is 7th. On the right that nice vacant lot at 7th & Hill this side of the Athletic Club is where the Pantages/Warner would rise in 1920. 



A detail from the image above showing the back of the theatre as seen from Broadway. The signage on the side says it's the Strand Picture Palace. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor HossC, who posted the photo on his Noirish post #22830. He was more interested in the smokestack than the theatre.



Looking west on 7th Street from Broadway c.1919. The stage end of the theatre, here still called the Strand, is visible in the distance. The photo from the California Historical Society is in the USC Digital Library collection.

The State Theatre would soon rise in place of the buildings on the left. Beyond the alley is the marquee of the Palace Theatre, a venue that would close in January 1921. On the northeast corner of 7th & Hill a construction fence is up for the Pantages/Warner. Way down 7th St. on the Brockman Building the Kinema (later renamed the Criterion Theatre) has a big sign with an arrow pointing off to the right.



A detail from the previous photo showing the back of the Strand. Or at least the signage still said Strand. That Alhambra sign was mounted on a building on the west side of Hill St. The the sign isn't on the theatre building itself. The arrow points to the theatre on Hill between 7th and 8th.



Looking south on Grand along the facade of the 8th & Grand mixed-use building now occupying the theatre site. Whole Foods and 8th St. are in the distance. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page about the Grand Theatre with lots of fascinating research by Joe Vogel and other contributors. Scandals, bigamy and more! Jeff Bridges (aka Vokoban) has unearthed many interesting newspaper articles detailing the mysteries of this building and did much of the research on the many names the Grand Theatre has used.

There's a lovely section on the Grand titled "Jinxed Exhibition -- Grand Avenue and the Mozart Theatre" beginning on page 132 of Jan Olsson's 2008 book "Los Angeles Before Hollywood - Journalism and American Film Culture, 1905-1915." The book is available as a pdf from the National Library of Sweden.

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