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Warner Hollywood: stage basement

6433 Hollywood Blvd.  Los Angeles, CA 90028  | map |

A look across the trap room toward stage right. The entrance to the orchestra pit is near the left light fixture. Over near the far light if you take a left you're in the corridor toward dressing rooms and the lobby end of the building including access to the mechanical rooms. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A wood elevator in middle of the the trap room to get items down to storage. Obviously not original equipment. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Across the trap room toward stage left. The elevator is in the cage at the left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Take a left at the light at the end of the trap room as seen in the photo above and you enter this stage right corridor of dressing rooms. Here we're pointed toward Hollywood Blvd. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A storage room downstage right. The doorway is visible on the far right side of the photo above. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Another look across the trap room toward stage right. Here you get a better look at the stage floor above. The wood upstage is original. The concrete downstage is the area that was rebuilt for the Cinerama installation.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Upstage right looking up at a trap. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Upstage right. An exciting look at the piping for the sprinkler system. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

We're looking at the downstage wall of the trap room and the door into the orchestra pit. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Just inside the firedoor under the pit -- stairs up to "picture" level of the pit. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A look up toward one of the traps. If you go straight ahead instead of taking the stairs on either left or right, you end up under the pit lift, assuming it's in the raised position. If it's down, you could walk right onto the lift and ride it up. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The pit construction at the Warner is rather interesting. First are the stairs themselves. In most theatres with pit lifts the orchestra would get on at basement level and ride the lift up. Here you could do that or also take either of two sets of stairs to get up after the pit had been raised.

The stairs end up at trap doors in a space about 2 1/2 feet wide between the upstage side of the lift and the front of the stage.  Most lifts of this vintage are positioned right at the front of the stage without a gap.

The third interesting item is the fact that the organ lift wasn't quite at the end of the pit -- the orchestra lift platform actually is cantilevered around the organ lift in front and on the far side (stage right).

The pit area was covered with a concrete slab for the 1952 Cinerama renovations. There's a couple of feet between this slab and the current position of the pit lift.

Up on top at center -- and at left note that you can see a bit under the frame of the pit lift. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Up on top at stage left. The hatches are where you'd come up into audience view if taking the stairs up to raised pit level. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

That's the pit lift at the left of the steel railing. Note the vertical guide close to the near hatch. The proscenium wall is at the right.

A look farther downstage on the lift. The steel above supports decking and concrete --  the pit is entombed for the moment. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A fun photo to get: looking at some original drapery fabric on the railing across the upstage side of the pit lift. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Under the lift at center -- looking at the controller on the pit front wall. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

Under the lift looking toward stage left. The door at the left gets us out to the stairs up or on out to the trap room. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The mostly intact mechanism for the orchestra pit lift. We're under the lift looking toward stage left. We're looking at (from left to right) the motor itself, an electric brake, and the gearbox that drives the horizontal axle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The pit front wall toward looking toward stage right. The next concrete pylon over (behind the axle and with a red seat cushion on it) is the location for the organ lift mechanism -- now removed.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The pylon that used to have the organ lift mechanism atop it. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A view of the area that used to have the platform for the organ lift. Note that the pit lift completely encircled the organ lift. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

In the basement looking down the length of the clapper board, also known as the "remote controlled switchboard." The relays on this board are activated by switches on the main stage switchboard (aka the "pilot board") to control house and stage lighting circuits. At the far end of the rack are saturable reactor dimmers (also termed reactance dimmers) used to control the larger auditorium lighting loads. Transfer switches on the near end of the board allow many of the stage circuits to be powered by either AC or DC. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The clapper room is in the basement stage left just downstage of the proscenium wall. At the bottom of the stairs stage left you can take a left (heading toward the lobby) and you find yourself in the main switchboard room. Or taking a right leads under the stage with the clapper room the first door on the left. The other basement areas page has photos of the main service switchboard.

The Frank Adam Electric Co.'s publication "Electrical Data on Three Major Theatres" discusses this part of the installation: "The Remote Controlled Switchboard of the stage lighting system is installed in a specially designed room adjacent to the main switchboard. The reactance dimmers, booster transformers and the motor generator sets to supply direct current for the reactance dimmers are installed in this room.

"The remote controlled switchboard is 18 feet 9 inches long and 8 feet 6 inches high. It is provided with a steel pull box at the top in which the various cables and wires entering and leaving this switchboard are distributed to their various terminals. The remote controlled switches, 158 in number, are of the Frank Adam 100-ampere single pole type and have been designed for use with the Frank Adam Major System of theatre lighting control. Each switch is mounted on a moulded insulation base 5 inches wide and 13 inches high, with the required capacity fuse connection for the sub feeder to the magazine panelboard. 

"...These remote controlled switches are controlled from the pilot switchboard located on the stage. The remote controlled switches in turn control theentire lighting load on the stage and in the auditorium. In addition to the remote controlled switches there are five 200-ampere 3-pole double throw knife switches to permit throwing the feeders to the stage auxiliary switchboards from the normal AC service to emergency DC service."

The Frank Adam publication also dealt with the Mosque in Richmond and the Stanley Theatre in Jersey City. It was in the collection of Lyman Brenneman and reprinted by the Theatre Historical Society in 1973. Thanks to Bob Foreman for making it available. His Vintage Theatre Catalogs site has a number of interesting items including a post of a Frank Adam/Major catalog from 1922 and a post of a 1952 Frank Adam catalog along with photos of earlier installations.

The rear of the clapper board. The item sitting on the floor at center is a step-up transformer to compensate for the voltage drop across a saturable reactor dimmer when full up. It allows the lights to have their full 120V brightness. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A small motor generator set in the clapper room. The saturable reactor dimmers require DC through a control winding to desaturate the core and allow the lights to come up. The lights are dimmed when no DC voltage is present. The DC to the dimmers is controlled through resistance dimmer plates on the main stage switchboard. The board also has resistance plates directly controlling smaller loads. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

At the far end of the rack, looking at several saturable reactor dimmers.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A closer look at a row of dimmers. These Cutler-Hammer units typically handle two circuits each with each circuit rated approximately 4,000 watts. The first dimmers here on this end of the rack were for the lamps in the cloud machines. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

About the Warner Hollywood:
| an overview | street views 1927 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | main lobby | basement lounge | upper lobby areas | recent auditorium views | vintage auditorium views | stage | back to top - stage basement | other basement areas | booth and attic | all warner hollywood posts |

Hollywood Theatres: overview and alphabetical lists | Hollywood Theatres: list by address | L.A. Theatres: main alphabetical listL.A. Theatres: list by address | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |  

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