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Holly Theatre

1624 Sunset Blvd. Echo Park (Los Angeles), CA 90026
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Opened: 1912 as the Globe #3. It was built for the Globe Amusement Co. by Henry Jensen. The location is two blocks east of Glendale Blvd. The Globe folks projected a circuit of 15 theatres. Globe #1 was at 5th & Los Angeles Streets downtown, Globe #2 was to be soon constructed for the firm at 3511 S. Central Ave. -- a venue later known as the Amusu and the Florence Mills Theatre. And there were several more including one at 2624 N. Broadway (later called the Starland) and one in San Pedro.

The illustration above is from an April 7, 1912 L.A. Times article on the construction. It noted: "Over 2500 electric lights will illuminate the front and top of a mammoth dome...will circle a large searchlight of 1000 candle-power....The interior will be richly furnished in the most up-to-date opera chairs, floor coverings and draperies. The ceilings and side walls will be tastefully decorated in subdued colors. The foyers will be finished in Italian marble, white tile and stucco work. The prevailing color schemes will be in white, greens and red."

Thanks to Jeff Bridges on Flickr for the find -- he has the full article. It can also be seen on the Faceboook page Photos of Los Angeles as a post from Ken McIntyre.

Seating: 900 was the announced capacity pre-construction. It later seated 732. Ken Roe notes that in the 1950 and 1952 Film Daily Yearbooks it's listed as having 780 seats.



The Globe circuit didn't last long. In the 1914 & 15 city directories there's a listing for "C T List" as the operator. And by 1914 it was being advertised as the Sunset Theatre. Thanks to Jeff Bridges on Flickr for this ad listing the theatre.

Jensen, who had started as a brickmaker, then becoming a contractor, soon found himself a career as a theatre operator. In the 1916 through 1919 and 1921 directories it's listed as Jensen's Theatorium. In addition to this one he ended up building a few more such as the nearby Melrose Theatre, the Palace Grand in Glendale, and the Raymond in Pasadena. Another Jensen project nearby was the Jensen Recreation Center, opened in 1924. See several photos down at the bottom of this page.



A great 1916 photo of the theatre as Jensen's Theatorium. Thanks to Dallas Movie Theaters for the post on the Cinema Treasures page about the theatre.

In the 1923 directory it's listed just as the Theatorium. It had become the Hollyway by 1925 and is still listed that way in the 1929 city directory.



A 1925 view of the theatre, then called the Hollyway, from the October 17, 1925 issue of Motion Picture News. The feature is Buster Keaton's "Seven Chances" but all the ballyhoo is for a now-lost fifteen part serial called "The Great Circus Mystery" starring strongman Joe Bonomo. Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar del Valle for the find. He's got it in "The Circus Comes to Echo Park," his Theatre Talks blog post.

The name got shortened to Holly in 1941. At some point along the way it was also advertised as Jensen's Holly.



The view west toward the Holly near the end of its career. Photo: Julius Shulman - Getty Research Institute - 1951. Shulman was out photographing various branch offices for Bank of America.  The Getty indexes his set of three photos of this location as Shulman's job #1050.



A detail from the Shulman photo. The facade of the Holly, except for the new marquee, was unchanged since its nickelodeon days. Here they're running "Two of  a Kind," a July 1951 release with Edmond O'Brien and Lizabeth Scott. Beyond in the next block is Jensen's Recreation Center. Thanks to Hoss C for finding the shot in the Getty collection. It's part of his Noirish Los Angeles post #31016.

Status: As a theatre it made it until mid 1951. It was converted into a branch bank later in 1951, then a market. No trace of its theatrical past remains.



A 1951 L.A. Times article posted by Jeff Bridges on Flickr detailed the proposed conversion of the theatre into a bank by architect Arthur Drielsma. Occupancy was expected in the summer of 1952. Included in the article was this photo. The article has also been seen on Photos of Los Angeles.



The former Holly Theatre, now a market. Photo: Bill Counter - 2011

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Holly. There was also a Theatorium in Long Beach, but evidently not related to Jensen's operation.

KCET had a fine story by Hadley Meares: "Henry C. Jensen, the Cunning Capitalist of L.A."
 
Jensen's Recreation Center: The Holly Theatre location on Sunset was just a half block east of another Jensen project, the Jensen's Recreation Center. The 1924 vintage building at 1710 Sunset Blvd. didn't have a theatre but did have lots of other interesting facilities including a bowling alley, a billiard hall, street level retail and 46 apartments above. 
 
In 1998 it became City of Los Angeles Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 652. It was designed by the same architect as the Melrose Theatre, Elimar E.B. Meinardus.



A 2011 view looking west. Photo: Bill Counter 



A 2009 photo looking east by Kansas Sebastian on Flickr. The Holly Theatre building is just out of the frame to the left.



A roof sign detail from Kansas Sebastian on Flickr. The sign has been restored. Diane Pell Omori on Facebook remembered that: "The bowler on the roof used to 'throw' the bowling ball and the neon lights would light up in a way that actually looked like he was bowling. It was pretty cool."



The basement bowling alley. The photo, from Mary-Austin & Scott on Flickr appears with a 2010 post about the building on Echo Park Now.

A good source for information about the area is the Echo Park Historic Society and, specifically, their page on the Recreation Center. Martin of You-Are-Here fame has a Recreation Center photo.

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