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Pasadena Civic Auditorium

300 E. Green St. Pasadena, CA 91101
| map |


Opened: February 15, 1932. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Phone: 626-449-7360  Website: www.thepasadenacivic.com | tech specs | history | photos |

Architects: Bergstrom, Bennett, Haskell and Stanton. Fitch Haskell was the chief designer. Jess Stanton designed the exterior tiles and interior decorative scheme. The ceilings were executed by Giovanni Smeraldi.

The funds for the building came from the City's Water & Power department. The Civic Auditorium was the last of three major Civic Center construction projects. The area was planned by Bennett, Parsons and Frost, a Chicago firm that was the successor to Daniel Burnham. The earlier Library building was done by Myron Hunt. The City Hall was by Bakewell & Brown of San Francisco.

Seating: 3,029 originally, now 2,997. In addition to the main theatre space, the second floor Gold Room above the lobby can handle up to 300 for receptions and parties. There's also a 17,000 sf exhibition hall behind the stage that was restored in 2015.



The layout of the Pasadena Civic complex.  The illustration is from the Civic's Technical Specs page on their website.  There's also a separate tech pdf with more details.

Stage specs: 
Proscenium: 56' wide x 32' high
Stage depth: 43' from the smoke pocket to the back wall
Stage right wing space: 23'
Stage left wing space: 25'
Road power: 1600 amps 3 phase
Grid height: 75'
Number of linesets: 58, on 6" centers, operated at stage level stage right.
Batten length: 60' with 4 lift lines per set.
Arbor capacity: 1,000 lbs. There's 45,000 lbs of counterweight available.
Flyfloors: Both stage left and stage right.
Orchestra pit lift: Drops to 5' 6" below stage level. 
Organ lift: Hydraulic lift drops to basement. Console stores in basement, it's not attached to lift.
Dressing rooms: Star room SL, 16 small rooms up a floor SL and SR, 2 chorus rooms in basement.



A stage plan from the theatre's website. Click on it for a larger view.

Organ: It's a 5/28 Moller

Status: The theatre is operated by the Pasadena Center operating Company, an entity that also runs the Convention Center. It's used for a wide variety of touring legitimate theatrical productions, concerts, and special events. 

The Pasadena Civic in the Movies: We get a look at the exterior as the location for Jason Bateman's spelling bee finals in "Bad Words" (Focus Features, 2014). The interiors were done elsewhere. In the film they say the interior views are at "Figueroa Hall."


The lobby areas:


A 1932 view of the lobby from house left taken by Mott Studios. It's in the California State Library collection, one of eleven photos in their set #1387322. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for digging some of these views out of the archives and including them in his Noirish post #15202.



A 2017 view from house left taken by Mike Hume. Visit his Historic Theatre Photography site for hundreds of great photos of theatres he's explored. And, of course, there's a lovely page on the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.



A lobby view from house right posted by Graeme McBain on the Facebook page Theatre Architecture. He added it as a comment to an auditorium photo of the Civic that he had posted.



A lobby ceiling detail. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



The house left stairs. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



The balcony lobby seen from house right. The Gold Room is through the door on the left edge of the image. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A view of the second floor Gold Room, located above the main lobby. The photo is on a page devoted to chamber music venues in the L.A. area on the site Da Camera. The page also has a nice history of the building by Ann Scheid. The photo is one from the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau.


The auditorium:


A c.1932 rear of the main floor wall detail from the Pasadena Public Library on the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration website. 



A look across the main floor c.1932 from the Pasadena Public Library collection on the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration website.



A c.1932 view of the proscenium and the asbestos from Bennett Kennedy Studio. The photo is in the collection of the Pasadena Public Library and appears on the website of the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration.



Restoration work on the asbestos in 2018. The photo appeared as a post on the Pasadena Civic Facebook page where they note that the curtain had sustained damage in a fire fifty years earlier. Thanks to Mike Hume for spotting the post.



One of the murals at the rear of the main floor. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A stage view from house left. The set onstage was for a Christmas Pantomime production. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



The house right organ grille area. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



The proscenium mural house right. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A detail of some of the grillework above the proscenium. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



Looking across the front of the auditorium. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A fine photo of the Mighty Moller being played up in "picture" position with the asbestos seen behind. The shot appears on a page about the theatre on the Visit Pasadena website. 



A lovely Stephen Russo shot up at the ceiling from under the balcony.  It was a 2016 post on the LAHTF Facebook page. Thanks, Stephen!



A great look toward the rear of the auditorium. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A view across the auditorium. The photo appears on a page about a 2008 performance of the Divine Wisdom Performing Arts Company on the site Clear Wisdom.



A proscenium view from Sam Osman on Flickr. The stage is set for a speech in 2009 by Bill Clinton.



A look at the house right organ grill area. Thanks to Sam Osman for his 2009 photo on Flickr.



The Pasadena Civic shows up in the season 5 episode 23 of the TV series "House." Thanks to Walter Santucci for the screenshot, a post on the LAHTF Facebook page.



Thanks to Stephen Russo for this look down from the back of the balcony. He added it as a comment on the LAHTF Facebook page to the shot from "House."



A balcony view from the website of the Chinese dance troupe Shen Yun Performing Arts.



Across the front of the balcony. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



The back wall. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



A side wall detail. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017

The ceiling from house right. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A detail of one of the coffers on the perimeter of the ceiling. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



Up in the spot booth. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017


Backstage: 

 
The counterweight system and flyfloor stage right. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



Offstage left. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



Under the orchestra pit lift. It doesn't come down to basement level. The organ console is in its storage position stage right. The organ lift (on the stage centerline) is seen in the distance at the center of the image. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



The hydraulic organ lift. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A basement shop. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017


More exterior views: 


A 1932 look at the exterior of the Civic Auditorium by Mott Studios. It's in the California State Library collection, one of eleven photos in their set #1387322.



An entrance detail. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1932



Looking north toward the City Hall. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1932



An early postcard from the site Card Cow.



A 1937 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



Another postcard appearing on Card Cow. The caption reads: "The Civic Auditorium (costing $1,250,000) is especially noted for the dances given by top-ranking orchestras, where over 3000 may dance in the large Exhibition Hall. The theatre, which is used for operas, concerts and lectures, seats 3000 persons."



A 1944 view of the Civic Auditorium from the great Frasher Foto Card collection at the Pomona Public Library.



A late 40s look at the theatre by Harry Quillen that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



A facade view. Photo: Mike Hume - 2018 



A second floor detail. Behind the windows is the Gold Room, located above the lobby. Photo: Mike Hume - 2018



The west side of the building. Photo: Mike Hume - 2018 



The east side of the Civic. Photo: Mike Hume - 2018. Thanks, Mike! Visit his Historic Theatre Photography site for hundreds of great photos of theatres he's explored. And, of course, there's a lovely page on the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

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