620 Lincoln Blvd. Venice (Los Angeles),
CA 90291 | map |
The news: Revised renovation plans were detailed in Steven Sharp's April 26, 2021 Urbanize article "Renovation in the works for Venice's Fox Theater." Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein for spotting the story.
A rendering from DFH Architects appearing with the Urbanize article. Sharp discusses the new plans:
"Last week, an entity affiliated with Santa Monica-based Roque & Mark Realtors submitted an application to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning to revamp the mid-century building, which was converted from a movie theater into an indoor swap meet roughly 30 years ago. The project, which is being designed by DFH Architects, calls for razing existing retail space along the northern side of the property, which would be converted into an outdoor seating space and new angled parking. The lost space would be offset by a 3,508 expansion on the southern side of the building, adding new retail in an area which was previously occupied by a nursery. The resulting structure would include 15,822 square feet of commercial floor area.
In the 2019 version of the project Trader Joe's was to be the primary tenant. The plan then was to leave only the pylon and front wall and demolish the rest. The site Real Deal discussed the move in their January 2019 story "Two-Buck Chuck time: Venice set to get first Trader Joe's." The article noted that at the time the property had been recently purchased by the boutique firm Roque & Mark Real Estate. That version of the redo was to have been designed by Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh.
Opened: August 17, 1951 with a preview of the feature "Meet Me After the Show," a 20th Century Fox film starring Betty Grable. The photo of opening night is one of a set of six by a Mr. Sandusky in the USC Digital Library collection taken that night by the Los Angeles Examiner. The regular bill starting the day after the opening was "The Frogmen" and "Strangers on a Train."
The building is on the east side of the street about 13 blocks north of Venice Blvd. Lincoln Blvd. as it goes through Venice is also Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.
Architect: It was a fairly standard Fox West Coast Skouras-style building. The architect of record is not known. Presumably Fox West Coast's in-house designer Carl Moeller had a hand in it.
An August 17, 1951 opening day ad for "The Truly Perfect Theatre." Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating it.
The Fox Venice ran conventional Hollywood movies until 1973 when it became a daily change revival house under the management of Cumberland Mountain Cinemas.
"Pooya, who had revived the theater as a showcase for high-quality art films from Europe and the Third World seldom distributed in the United States, had accused the building’s owners of 'dragging their feet' in making repairs. Albinas Markevicius, a Santa Monica real estate developer who is among the building’s several owners, said that a cleanup of the asbestos, which began last month, should be completed in another two weeks. 'We intend to try to lease the building soon,' he said. 'We have no preference as to whether it remains a theater, as long as (the building’s use) is in compliance with zoning laws.'"
Status: Despite the alleged asbestos issues, the building was repurposed as a swap meet called the Fox Discount Store. It remained fairly intact but with a flat floor and was still in use in 2021.
Stephen Nathan is a worried producer pacing the Fox Venice lobby during the big premiere of his work in "The First Nudie Musical" (Paramount, 1976). The book, music, and lyrics for the movie are by Bruce Kimmel. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for sixteen more shots from the film including another lobby shot and many views of Hollywood theatre signage.
Down the house left aisle. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
A wiggly plaster detail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
The proscenium. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
The front of the booth. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
More exterior views:
Thanks to Michael Hayashi for this 1957 look at the theatre, a post of his on the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page. Note the guys up working on the Fox lettering on the tower.
A 1982 look at the Fox Venice playing a double bill of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai." That must have been a long evening. Thanks to American Classic Images for the photo. It also appears with Steven Sharp's April 26, 2021 Urbanize article "Renovation in the works for Venice's Fox Theater," where they credit the image to the City of Los Angeles.
A 1983 photo by Mike Sergieff taken for the Herald Examiner. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
A c.1988 shot by Mike Sergieff for the Herald Examiner that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Note that the Fox lettering is gone from the tower.
A view from a bit farther south. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
The north side of the complex. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
The tower. Photo: Bill Counter - 2019
Also check out the website Venice History.
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