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Wilshire / NuWilshire Theatre

1314 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403  | map |

Opened: November 26, 1930 as the Wilshire Theatre with the Independent Theatre Corp. as operators. The building is on the south side of Wilshire between Euclid St. and Euclid Ct., a block west of 14th St. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

The principals of the company were Edward A. Johnson as president, Forrest W. McManus as vice-president and M.E. Baylis as secretary. McManus had been operating the Tivoli (now called the Royal Theatre) in Sawtelle since 1926. He had the Nuart underway when the company was organized in July 1930. These became the firm's first two theatres and with the Wilshire opening they had three. Harry H. Belden and Ira Marshall were the project's developers.

Architect: It was designed and built by John Montgomery Cooper. He also designed the Roxie Theatre downtown, a 1931 house.

Seating: Originally 1,189. In 1961 it was reseated to hold about 800. As a twin it was 317 + 307.

The November 25, 1930 edition of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook had rosy predictions about the number of stars that would be in attendance for the opening.  Opening night festivities included a concert by the Santa Monica Evening Outlook Newsboys Band and Mickey McGuire and His Gang, both in person and on the screen.

This discussion of the theatre's decor was another article from November 25 edition of the Evening Outlook.

An article about the stage from the November 25, 1930 edition of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook.

Snappy uniforms for the ushers. It's another item from the November 25 edition of the Evening Outlook. They note that a "colored maid will have charge of the women's lounge room" but somehow the staff for that part of the theatre wasn't included in the photo. Many thanks to Samuel de la Torre Dórame for the research on the theatre's early history and finding the items from the Outlook. He specializes in researching the history of the Sawtelle neighborhood. See his blog Sawtelle 1897-1941 for many fine articles. 

The theatre was later operated by Fox West Coast and their successor companies National General and Mann Theatres.  It was twinned down the middle in February 1977 by Mann. Starting in the early 90s it was operated by Landmark Theatres who called it the NuWilshire to go with their Nuart venue. Until the end, however, the signage continued to say just "Wilshire."

Closing: The NuWilshire closed November 4, 2007. The facade was landmarked by the City of Santa Monica in 2008.

In March, 2009 the interior was gutted and converted to retail space. The Santa Monica Daily Press ran a 2009 article about the conversion: "Rehab begins for NuWilshire Theater." As part of the project the floor was removed and a basement excavated for underground parking.It sat vacant for a long time waiting for a tenant.

Status: It's now occupied by Performance Bicycles. Or was. They seem to be defunct.

A 1961 Boxoffice magazine auditorium view of the theatre with a covered up proscenium but still as a single screen house. Thanks to Chris1982 for posting the shot on the Cinema Treasures page about the NuWilshire. National General had just given the theatre a big remodel.

The boxoffice area. It's a photo from Marilynn's 2007 pre-closing set on Flickr.

The entrance in the other direction. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

A 2007 look at the lobby by Nick Illes appearing on the Cinema Tour page about the NuWilshire. On the site you'll find more photos including another lobby view and a booth shot.

A view along the bar. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

A shot of the lobby ceiling from a 2007 photo set by Marilynn on Flickr.

The house left stairs to the booth and restrooms. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

A stair detail. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

An upstairs shot. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

The view down from the house left stairs. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

A look toward the booth in one of the shoebox auditoria. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007.

A sidewall view. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007

A peek into the booth. Photo: Marilynn on Flickr - 2007. Thanks, Marilynn! 

A few more exterior views:  

A view prior to opening in 1930. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Too bad we can't see the roof sign. The photo ran with a huge amount of press coverage in the November 25, 1930 edition of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook.

A 1938 photo of the exterior from MGM that's now in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Anyone for playing Magic Screen?

A 1979 post-twinning view of the theatre by Anne Laskey that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. They also have another view taken the same day by Ms. Laskey from a bit farther east.

The facade in 1992, a photo by Leslie Heumann & Associates in the Santa Monica Public Library collection. 

Thanks to Dean Chen for this 2008 photo on Flickr

A facade detail from Dean Chen on Flickr. He has about ten additional exterior views you can page through.

Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this 2009 photo. 

Two marquee details from Monica/A Change In Scenery on Flickr. The diptych has also been seen on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page as a post by Ken McIntyre.

A 2009 look at the marquee of the then-abandoned theatre. Thanks to Cole Martin for the photo on Flickr.  It also appears as part of a 2012 story on LAist titled "Ghosts of Movie Houses Past."

 The stripped out theatre ready for a retail tenant. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010. 

A 2010 photo from Corey Miller on Flickr. It's one of many great views in his Theatre Signs set.

A look across the redone entrance. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010 

The west side of the building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010 

The view east on Wilshire. Photo: Google Maps - 2016

More information:
See the Cinema Treasures page for lots of data. And go to Cinema Tour for more photos including lobby and booth views.

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