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The former Fox Stadium Theatre, now a synagogue. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for his 2009 photo on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. The theatre was designed by Carl Boller.
Opened: 1931. It was built for and operated by Fox West Coast Theatres. The location is on the south side of the street one long block west of Robertson Blvd. The rear of the auditorium was with stadium-style seating, a rarity in Los Angeles at the time.
About the only other early L.A. theatre with such an arrangement was downtown's Rialto Theatre. In the 40s, lots of theatres, especially by Fox West Coast (such as the Fox Inglewood and the Culver), utilized the format. This is quite a contrast to the San Francisco area, where most theatres in the 20s and early 30s that were in the 900 to 1,200 seat range were built stadium style.
A 1931 opening night view. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Nemarik for the photo. It's on the site's page about the Fox Stadium. The film was the "Don't Bet On Women" with Edmund Lowe and Jeanette MacDonald. We also got a Laurel and Hardy short.
Architect: Robert O. Boller and Carl Henry Boller, Boller Bros.
The Boller Bros. worked all over the country on projects including the Kimo in Albuquerque and the Missouri Theatre in St. Joseph. See the Cinema Treasures list on Boller Bros. for 76 theatres by the firm that the site has indexed. The firm began in 1905 in Kansas City.
Carl Boller moved to Los Angeles in 1921 and, in addition to the Fox Stadium, also designed the Fontana Theatre (now a performing arts venue) and the Corona Theatre, now a church. His most opulent theatre in the area was the Tracy Theatre in Long Beach.
The building has a 24' deep stage and a 50' x 25' proscenium. The theatre was planned for wide film processes underway at the time such as the 70mm Fox Grandeur format. And there was always Magnascope. The sliding sections of the grand drape allowed for the showcasing of three image sizes: slides, the regular screen size, and the enlarged screen.
The exterior was strikingly lit with both neon and colored flood lights. And, of course, there was a lit beacon atop the tower.
This floorplan and section were included in "Adapting the Theatre to a Shallow Lot," a big article by Carl Boller in the May 9, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald profiling the new theatre. It's on Internet Archive.
Status: The theatre closed in 1961. It's been a synagogue, the B'nai David-Judea, since 1964. The exterior was rehabilitated in 2004.
The lobby at the Fox Stadium. It's a 1931 Mott Studios photo, one of sixteen in the California State Library's set #001384373.
A closer view toward the exit doors. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.
A detail of the lobby sculpture. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
A view in the lobby near an entrance to the auditorium. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.
A look up the ramp to the auditorium that we see in the photo above. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
Another lobby photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
The current look of the lobby. The rear section of the auditorium seating is above this area. It's a photo by Reyna Zack Photography that appeared on the B'nai David-Judea website.
A proscenium view. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
A view of the organ grille house left and the organ console in the pit. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. More auditorium photos in the LAPL collection: auditorium from rear - undated | ceiling detail | another ceiling view | proscenium view |
Thomas L. DeLay, on the Facebook page Theatre Architecture comments on the organ: "Yep, the Wurlitzer in this theatre was a transplant. That console style is circa 1919-1921 and was a far more attractive style than what followed it. It was probably a bit too expensive to continue to build. The theatre dates from 1931, the Wurlitzer from 1921 (at most.) A Boller Bros. theatre. Quite a change from their theatres in Texas and NM."
The house right organ grille. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
Many thanks to Ronald W. Mahan for this photo from his collection. It was taken by W.P. Woodcock and once belonged to Tony Heinsbergen. This curlicue pattern drape we see here also appeared in other Fox-operated houses of the period including the Fox Wilshire and the United Artists Long Beach. Ron calls our attention to the plush loge seats: "Only eleven to a row vs. twelve of the standard ones. How luxurious to have a couple more inches for comfort."
Another proscenium shot with the house curtain visible. The photo is from the May 9, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald titled "Adapting the Theatre to a Shallow Lot." It's on Internet Archive.
A view down from the upper section of seats. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
Looking toward the booth. Note here at the Stadium the booth isn't behind the last row of seats but up a full level higher to get in more seats. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
Another look toward the rear of the house -- a bit different than the California State Library version. The photo is from the May 9, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald titled "Adapting the Theatre to a Shallow Lot." The article also has a lobby shot and an organ grille detail.
A sidewall detail. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
A view of the front of the former auditorium from the B'nai David-Judea website.
A daytime view from the article by Carl Boller in the May 9, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald titled "Adapting the Theatre to a Shallow Lot."
An opening night photo from the Motion Picture Herald article.
Another facade view. It's a 1931 Mott Studios photo, one of sixteen in the California State Library's set #001384373.
The theatre's entrance. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
The ticket lobby at the Stadium. Photo: Mott Studios - California State Library - 1931
A 1937 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
Thanks to Bruce Kimmel for this c.1951 street view from his collection. We're looking west on Pico.
A street view. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
A closer look at the tower. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
A detail of the Fox Stadium facade. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Fox Stadium for the more data on the theatre.
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