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Early Legit Venues on Spring Street

Spring Street was never a rival to either Broadway or Main Street either for the legit trade or the later later movie business. But it did have its share of action.

On my Spring Street Theatres page you'll find a survey of the action up and down the street.

The photo here is a 2010 view of the Los Angeles Theatre Center, now the only theatrical action of any sort on Spring. It's historic, but not as a theatre. The complex is a re-purposed bank building.

While digging around in various archives, I kept coming across tales of Juan Temple (we named Temple street for him). He was a grocer with an adobe store at at the N.W. corner of Main and Temple. Then he expanded south into a mixed use edifice known as the Temple Block at Temple, Spring and Main. Yes, (a surprise to me) the north end of Spring St. once curved east to meet Main St. The intersection turned into a major trolley nexus. Temple's original store was later the location of the main L.A. postoffice.

The 1959 addition to the Temple Block was known as the Market House and it is of interest because on the second floor it contained the Temple Theatre, a widely used venue at the time for musical and dramatic performances. The building had, of course, a market on the ground floor and was also courthouse and office space for the city.

I think the photos I've chosen for the Spring St. Theatres page represent the look of the structure while it was used as a theatre. It's been fun trying to sort out all the mis-dated photos and non-specific commentary about the various construction phases and additions to the building. It's all murky.

Another interesting search recently has been through various old theatrical guides, such as the 1897 edition of "Julius Cahn's Theatrical Guide." These books were published for touring shows so that before coming to town they'd have a contact list of personnel as well as know the number of one sheets to print and how big the pit band was. Mr. Cahn (or his editors) left us some stage specs for the 1897 Lyceum Theatre at 227 S. Spring St.

Also discovered recently in "Henry's Theatrical Guide of 1907-08" was some stage information for Fischer's Theatre on 1st. between Spring and Main. Fischer's at the time was doing stock company musical productions.

Other early legit operations nearby included the Tivoli (opened 1890, later the Cineograph) and the Empress, which opened in 1903 as the Casino. All in all, an interesting group of legitimate theatre buildings.

Sadly for theatre historians, the best remaining views these days on Spring Street are the back ends of the theatres on Broadway.

Here's a view of the (left to right) Arcade, Cameo and Roxie. You can click on the photo to enlarge. The ramp at the left heads down to the loading dock of the Arcade Building.

Update 9/27/10: I added the words "the north end of..." to my 3rd paragraph above after getting a comment from RangerRick saying that Spring and Main still meet -- on the south end, of course.

Scroll down my Main Street Theatres page to the bottom of the left hand column to see several views at the Spring / Main / 9th St. intersection.


  1. "Yes, (a surprise to me) Spring St. once curved east to meet Main St."
    It still does (or to be more precise, Main St. curves west to meet Spring St.) at 9th St. Spring St. ends there and only Main St. continues south.

  2. Thanks, RangerRick. I meant to say that the surprise (for me) was learning that they met at the north end of Spring.

    Thanks for commenting!

    -- Bill Counter