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Steere Opera House

NE corner of 3rd St. and Broadway  Santa Monica, CA 90401
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Opened: 1887 as the Steere Opera House. It was also known as the Santa Monica Opera House. At the time of the opening, Broadway was called Utah St. This hall was on the second floor of a two story brick building that also served as an I.O.O.F lodge.

Architect: Unknown.

Seating: 500

In the 1908 book "Ingersoll's Century History, Santa Monica Bay Cities" by Luther A. Ingersoll he talks about the events of 1887. There's a preview of the work on Google Books. On page 173 as part of the discussion we get this:

"Among the buildings of the year, John Steere erected a two story brick block on the northeast corner of Utah and 3rd, with a frontage of 50 by 75 feet. The second floor contained a large hall which for many years was known as "Steere's Opera House," and which served as theater and public meeting place.

"The older residents of Santa Monica can look back on many festal [sic] occasions enjoyed within and recall the remarkable display of stuffed birds which adorned its walls. Several other business blocks and a number of residences were built during the year. St. Augustine's Episcopal church was erected and the Catholic church at Palms was built." Don't you wonder about the stuffed birds?

A c.1891 view from the USC Digital Library collection that they identify as looking north on 3rd St. from Utah St. (Broadway) to Nevada St. (Wilshire Blvd.). The caption says, in part: "The Opera House and the Catholic Church are on the right side of the street, while the First Presbyterian Church is on the corner of Nevada."

We're assuming that the Opera House is the two story building just beyond the sign for the hardware store and the sloped taller roof just beyond that is the church. Which means that the photo wasn't shot at Utah St. but at least a half block farther south. Note that the Santa Monica Public Library has a photo of the Presbyterian Church that they give a location for as 3rd and Arizona, not Nevada St.

Stage specifications: "Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide Volume 5 - 1900 - 1901" has some data on the theatre. It's on Google Books. The Steere listing is on page 249:

"SANTA MONICA -- Pop., 3,000. Steere Opera House.
I.O.O.F Lodge, manager, business. manager and press agent.
Seating capacity: 500.
Prices: 25c to 50c.
Illumination: electric. J.J. Davis, electrician.
Width of proscenium opening: 16 ft.  Proscenium height: 14 ft.
Depth from footlights to back wall: 16 ft.
Distance from curtain line to footlights: 3 ft.
Distance between side walls: 30 ft. Distance between fly girders: 20 ft.
Height of scenery grooves from stage: 12 ft. 4 grooves.
Theatre is on the second floor.
Orchestra leader: W.L. Barker  6 in orchestra
Prop man: W.C. Willis
Printing required: 4 stands, 10 3 sheets, 50 1 sheets, 100 1/2 sheets.
Dates read: Steere Opera House.
Bill poster and advertising agent: E.E. Barackman

Status: Demolished. The closing date for the hall is unknown.

The Arcadia book "Early Santa Monica" by Louise B. Gabriel reports on page 51 that in 1906 it was being used as a classroom for a summer school session. The 1990 book "The Californians" noted that In 1909 the Southern California Tennis Association had a lavish ball at the theatre.

More Information: The Mayfair Theatre was also known as the Santa Monica Opera House. It opened with that name in 1911 before being renamed the Majestic.

For more Santa Monica history see "Early Santa Monica" by Louise B. Gabriel and Jake Klein's "Santa Monica Then and Now." Both have previews on Google Books.

Santa Monica Street renaming: 
Nevada St. became Wilshire Blvd.
Arizona St. became Arizona Ave.
Oregon St. became Santa Monica Blvd.
Utah St. became Broadway
Railroad became Colorado Ave.

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