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Melrose Theatre / Ukranian Culture Center

4315 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90029
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The former Melrose Theatre, since 1961 the Ukranian Culture Center. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Phone: 323-665-3703   Website: ukrainianculturecenter.org  | on Facebook 

Opened: 1924 as Jensen's Melrose Theatre by Henry C. Jensen.

Jensen was a German immigrant brick maker who prospered as Los Angeles exploded with new construction in the teens and 20s. His firm, Henry C. Jensen & Sons, evolved into builders and building operators.

In addition to the Melrose, Jensen was involved in two nearby Echo Park ventures: Jensen's Theatorium at 1624 Sunset Blvd. (later called the Holly Theatre, now a market) and Jensen's Recreation Center at 1700 Sunset Blvd. He also operated Jensen's Raymond Theatre in Pasadena (1921) and the Palace Grand Theatre (1914) in Glendale.

Ken Roe on Cinema Tour notes that this was "a 'better class' neighbourhood theatre which had a 10 piece orchestra and a Link 2 Manual/4Rank organ which accompanied the silent films." The theatre was primarily for films and did not have a big stage.

Architect: Elimar E.B. Meinardus

Seating: 880

It was still listed as Jensen's Melrose in the 1929 directory. It's unknown when Jensen's involvement ended. In the 50s it was operated by Fox West Coast.

In 1957 and 1958 it was used as a test house for the three projector Cinemiracle process. The only film in the process, "Windjammer," had its L.A. debut at Grauman's Chinese, also operated by Fox West Coast.



A look at the temporary Cinemiracle installation in front of the booth. We're got three modified Century projectors and a separate sound reproducer. The photo comes from the Cinemiracle section on the comprehensive and delightful American Widescreen Museum site.

The Cinemiracle installation at the Melrose featured a 24' x 63' screen. On Roland Lataille's In Cinerama page about the theatre he notes that a 3 strip print was made from "Raintree County" and demonstrated at the Melrose in July 1957.

Status: The theatre closed in 1959. It was sold and remodeled into the Ukranian Culture Center, which opened in 1961. Most of the interior detailing remains, now with an opulent new paint job after lots of restoration work including plaster repairs. The main floor has been leveled. The upstairs got walled off into a separate room with a great job duplicating the feel of the main floor proscenium.



A look at the detail on the lobby ceiling. Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein for her photos. They come from "Jensen's Melrose Theatre (Now Ukranian Cultural Center)," her lovely 2015 Avoiding Regret photo essay about a visit to the theatre. You can also track Sandi's adventures on the Avoiding Regret Facebook page.



Plaster detail work in the ladies room vestibule. The doorway leads out into the lobby. Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015



A lobby view prior to the redecorating. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for his 2008 photo.



A view of the stage from the main floor during the 2011 restoration -- with a peek backstage as well. Check out the dazzling May 2011 photo album on the Ukranian Culture Center Facebook page for 43 views of the building during and after the redecorating project.



A stage view from the rear of the main floor. The upstairs has been walled off as a separate meeting space. Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015 



A view of the hall from upstairs. Photo: Ukranian Culture Center Facebook page - 2011



Backing up a bit from the position the photo above was taken from we get a look at the upstairs control booth.  Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - 2015



The medallion and chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015



A closer view of the main chandelier. Photo: Ukranian Culture Center Facebook page - 2011 



A detail of the proscenium after the 2011 re-gilding and repainting. Photo: Ukranian Culture Center Facebook page



A nice detail of the top of the proscenium posted on the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page by Linda Stewart.



The view up the stage left sidestage area and proscenium column. Photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015. Thanks, Sandi!



A 2006 photo from Hey Skinny on Flickr showing the look before the restoration work. Ken Roe has a similar view on the Cinema Tour page about the theatre. Skinny notes: "It's a weird mishmash in here of Egyptianate and Greco-Roman, all repainted heavily with only two colors."



A stunning shot of the capitol on the stage left proscenium column. Photo: Ukranian Culture Center Facebook page - 2011



A look toward the rear of the house in 2006. Note that the upstairs has been walled off to form a separate room. Photo: Hey Skinny on Flickr



The new space created in the former upstairs lounge and booth areas. Photo: Ukranian Culture Center Facebook page - 2011



A 2009 view of the Melrose from Waltarrrrr on Flickr 



 A detail of the facade. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010


 
The lettering at the top of the facade. The photo by Just Above Sunset Photography is one of a set of dazzling detail views of the facade that appear on their page "Straight From 1924."



Ornament at the top of the facade.  It's a photo by Just Above Sunset Photography on their page "Straight From 1924."



Another terracotta detail. It's a photo by Just Above Sunset Photography on their page "Straight From 1924."



The arch from below. Photo: Linda Stewart - Vintage Los Angeles - 2010



The top of the arch. It's a photo by Just Above Sunset Photography on their page "Straight From 1924."



Terracotta on the side of the arch. It's a photo by Just Above Sunset Photography on their page "Straight From 1924."



A window detail. It's a 2012 photo by Linda Stewart that appeared on Vintage Los Angeles. Also see her facade view looking west. Thanks, Linda!



The top of one of the side windows. It's a photo by Just Above Sunset Photography on their page "Straight From 1924."



A detail of a bracket on one of the facade side windows. It's a photo by Just Above Sunset Photography on their page "Straight From 1924."
 


The view east on Melrose toward the theatre. Photo: Google Maps - 2011

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Melrose. The Cinema Tour has a history of the theatre contributed by Ken Roe along with some of Ken's photos.

Sandi. Hemmerlein's lovely 2015 Avoiding Regret photo essay about her visit to "Jensen's Melrose Theatre (Now Ukranian Cultural Center)" has many photos of the building.

Martin of You-Are-Here fame has a nice facade view of the theatre and gives the building a date of 1923.

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