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Warner Huntington Park: history + exterior views

6714 Pacific Blvd. Huntington Park, CA 90255  | map | 

More Warner Huntington Park pages: lobby areas | auditorium | projection booths | stage | basement |


Opened: November 19, 1930 with Joe E. Brown as the MC. The opening attraction was "The Life of the Party," a Vitaphone release in 2 strip Technicolor. The Warner is on the east side of the street between Zoe Ave. and Saturn Ave. The theatre has been repurposed as a gym called Blink Fitness. The building is just a block south of the now-dormant Fox California Theatre.

Thanks to Bill Housos for the 1930 photo of the newly opened theatre from his collection. He notes that he purchased his photos of the Warner from the Theatre Historical Society several decades ago. 

Architect: B. Marcus Priteca, who also designed similarly sized theatres built at the same time for the Warner circuit in San Pedro and Beverly Hills. The San Pedro house is alive and well as a performing arts center owned by the City of Los Angeles. The Warner Beverly Hills was demolished in the 80s.

Priteca was a Seattle based architect who designed hundreds of theatres all over the country, including everything the Pantages circuit built after 1911. Locally his work included the Pantages (later renamed Warner) downtown at 7th and Hill, the Pantages in Hollywood and the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Seating: 1,468

Stage: The Warner was designed with a full stage with fly capability but only limited rigging was installed. It got an orchestra pit and organ chambers although, like the Warner theatres in San Pedro and Beverly Hills, an organ was never installed.

After Warner Bros. spun off their theatre circuit as a result of consent decree rulings, the theatre was operated by Stanley Warner Corp. and, from 1968 onward, by Pacific Theatres. It's been advertised over the years as the Warner, Warners and Warner Huntington Park.

Becoming a twin: In the 80s the balcony was walled off by Pacific Theatres to become a separate auditorium and the twin was called Pacific's Warner 2. In later years business was good as the theatre ran a lot of Spanish language and Spanish subtitled films in what was then a vibrant business area.

Closing: Pacific Theatres closed it in the mid 90s and it sat vacant, except for the storefronts on either side of the entrance. The Warner remained under the ownership of Pacific's Robertson Properties division until a June 2013 sale.



The top of the tower. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

New owners: The building sold for $1,600,000 to Pacific Blvd. Holdings / Retail Management Corp. and they went looking for a tenant as well as permission to remodel the building. Bianca Barragan had a story for Curbed L.A. in December 2014: "Historic Warner Huntington Park Theater Could Get Dramatic Retail Renovation."

The City of Huntington Park had declared the theatre a historic landmark in 2007. They were able to negotiate with the new owners regarding preservation of the facade as well as certain interior architectural features including the ornate ceiling and the auditorium walls. The city's website has a page on the Warner but it now seems to be stripped of all information.

The owners got a variance for the adaptive reuse work by a unanimous vote of the City of Huntington Park Historic Preservation Commission at a December 2014 meeting. The City's Planning Commission then gave the project their approval at a January 2014 meeting. The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation was involved in the negotiations. They reported:  

"The three-member City of Huntington Park Planning Commission convened Wednesday evening, January 14, to consider a request for a variance from the HP Historic Resources code for the remodeling of the Warner Theatre. As expected, the Commission supported the Historical Commission decision that a variance should be granted to allow the theatre to be converted to retail purposes. A lengthy presentation by city staff was fraught with serious mistakes and assumptions.

"Essentially, the City never gave real consideration for preserving the Warner as an entertainment center. Steve Gerdes, Escott Norton and Hillsman Wright offered solid evidence during public comments to the Commission that many of the points made by city staff stating that there was no viable way to operate the Warner as a theatre were simply incorrect and that the city staff had not thoroughly investigated successful historic theatre operations and the economic, social and cultural benefits that would be gained from re-activating the Warner.

"Warner Theatre owner Pouya Abdi clearly recognizes his property as a historical treasure and seems sincere in finding the best way to bring it to life and still make a return on his investment. Pouya is willing to consider reviving the Warner as an entertainment and community center if an operator is identified. Mr. Abdi met an LAHTF delegation at the Warner the next morning to open the doors for a thorough tour of the theatre. The Warner is in amazingly good condition after being closed for almost 20 years..."
The LAHTF attempted to find a tenant interested in reopening the building as a theatre but no one emerged who was willing to pay the rent the owner was expecting.

Status: It reopened in 2018 as Blink Fitness. Selective demolition began in September 2015. The twinning was undone, the seats removed and the floor leveled. The wall separating the rear of the main floor from the lobby is gone, upstairs restrooms and office area partitions have been removed and the first four rows of the balcony have been chopped off.   



A 1931 shot with participants in some sort of "talking contest" at the Warner to celebrate talking pictures at the theatre. The feature film is "Seed," a May 1931 release. Thanks to Melissa Judith Rosales on Facebook for posting the photo. And thanks to Jason Vega for sending it along.



The Warner got its photo in the April 1933 issue of Architect and Engineer. "The building is of reinforced concrete and was undamaged by the earthquake of March 10, 1933. Signs in front announce auditorium safe for occupancy by order of Municipal Building Department. Photograph taken after the quake." The issue is on Internet Archive.



A 1934 view of the Warner running "Mandalay" with Kay Francis. The photo from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives appears in the Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres of Los Angeles" by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker. The page with this photo is included in the preview of the book on Google Books.



Fashions have changed a bit in Huntington Park. Here's a c.1937 view by Herman Schultheis in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



An undated Christmas parade shot looking north. The photographer is unknown. It appeared on the Friends of the Warner Facebook page.



A 50s postcard view looking north on Pacific. It's part of Wayne Poe's Noirish Los Angeles post #16310 about Huntington Park. That's the Warner with its vertical lit up on the right. Wayne found the card somewhere in the collection of Ozfan22 on Flickr. It also appears on the Friends Of The Warner Facebook page.



A fine 50s shot looking north on Pacific discovered on eBay by Jason Vega. Thanks, Jason!



A lovely 1956 photo by George Tate taken when the Warner was running "The Man Who Knew Too Much." Thanks to Jason Vega for spotting this one on a now-vanished George Tate Instagram page. For more about Mr. Tate (1920-1992), see the George Tate Photography page on Facebook, a biography and several pages of images on the website of the Craig Krull Gallery, and a 2013 article about his work on Slate.



A 60s view looking north on Pacific Blvd. The Warner is on the right. The California Theatre vertical sign can be glimpsed in the next block. It's from the Downey Conservancy's Huntington Park set on Flickr. The photo also appears on the Friends Of The Warner Facebook page.



A detail from the photo above. It was a post of Melissa Judith Rosales on Facebook. Thanks to Jason Vega for spotting it.



A lovely early 60s Christmas season photo looking north on Pacific toward the Warner. Thanks to L.A. transit historian Sean Ault for finding the photo.



A 1963 photo from the collection of the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



A Christmas season photo of the Warner added to the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page by Robert Mora.



A 1972 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. 



A closer view of the facade, again from 1972. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



A boxoffice view by an unknown photographer on The Eye of Photography, a French photography website. The island boxoffice was a casualty when the theatre was twinned and the boxoffice moved to the south side of the entrance.



A photo of the original island boxoffice by Ave Pildas appearing in the 1980 book "Movie Palaces: Survivors of an Elegant Era" by Ave Pildas and Lucinda Smith. The book is available on Amazon.



A detail from a 1981 photo in the American Classic Images collection. Also see a January 1983 photo on their site.



A fine 1994 view up the vertical of the Warner from the I Support the Warners Theatre Facebook page.



A look up the vertical from Debra Jane's site Roadside Architecture. It's on her California Theatres page 6. Also see a facade view from across the street.



The Warner facade from across the street. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



A view south along the facade. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



A facade detail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007 



A closer look at a panel seen in the photo above. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



Along the side the tower. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



Another facade detail. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



The entrance doors. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007 



The Warner's terrazzo. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007



A 2009 photo of the tower by Mark Peacock on Flickr. For more of Mark's terrific work see his Vintage Theatres photo set.



A view from the north. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012 



Another 2012 view. Photo: Bill Counter  



A look along the sidewalk from the south. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



The dormant theatre from across the street. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012 



A bit of ornament above one of the entrance doors. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012



A big line at the Warner. Well, perhaps the crowd was there for a street festival of some sort. There certainly wasn't anything going on at the theatre. Thanks to Hunter Kerhart for the 2014 photo. Keep up with his explorations: on Facebook | HunterKerhart.com | on Flickr



A look skyward. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014



A 2014 photo once posted on Facebook by Bryan Diaz.


 
An ominous 2014 look up at the skies above the doomed theatre. Thanks to Bryan Diaz for his photo, another post on Facebook that's now vanished from that site.



A September 2015 photo by Hugo Ruiz gives a look into what had been the lobby. The snackbar is gone as is the wall separating the lobby and auditorium -- we can see all the way to the front of the house.



A January 2016 peek in the front door gives a look all the way to the front of the auditorium. Thanks to Hugo Ruiz for his photo.



The Warner's marquee lit for the first time in decades. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - February 2016



A ghost of a great theatre awaiting its new life as a gym and retail space. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - February 2016



A noirish view north on Pacific. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - February 2016 



The marquee soffit. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - February 2016



The block at night. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - March 2016



Showing off some of the remaining neon in the daytime. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - March 2016



A view north on Pacific. Thanks to Hunter Kerhart for his 2017 photo.


 
The building from the north. Thanks to Mike Hume for his 2017 photo. See more of his fine work on the his Historic Theatre Photography site. 



The house left exit stairs. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



The back wall. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017 



The stagehouse from the south. Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A look up to the tower.  Photo: Mike Hume - 2017



A lovely shot of the vertical. Thanks to Paul Schneider for his 2017 photo.



Exploring the top of the tower. Photo: Paul Schneider - 2017. Thanks, Paul!



A September 2017 facade view. Note the blue "Coming Soon" banners for the future tenant of the theatre portion of the building, Blink Fitness. Thanks to Mike Hume for his photo. Visit his Historic Theatre Photography site for data and hundreds of photos of the theatres he's explored in Los Angeles and elsewhere.



The theatre at dusk after the storefronts were emptied. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2017  



A view to the south. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2017



The Warner's new paint job. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2017



A look out to the street from under the marquee. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017



The barricaded entrance. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2017



A new storefront north of the entrance. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017



Glass going in on the south storefront. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017



A look up at the tower with its new paint job. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017


 
A closer tower view. Photo: Bill Counter - December 2017



The view north on Pacific. Photo: Bill Counter - February 2018



A new attraction on the marquee. Photo: Huntington Park High School Sustainers on Facebook. - April 2018



Open for business with a fixed up marquee. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2018 



A closer look at the neon. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2018 



Another post-opening view. Photo: Hugo Ruiz - 2018. Thanks for all your photos, Hugo! 

More Information:  See Hunter Kerhart's 2014 South on Spring essay that includes many of his fine photos "Warner Huntington Park Theatre - First Look in 80 Years." Curbed L.A. picked up the story with their article "Here Are the First Photos in Decades...."

See the Warner Huntington Park page on Cinema Treasures for lots of stories and photos. The Cinema Tour page on the Warner Theatre has some 2004 exterior photos from the Ken Roe collection. There are two now-dormant Facebook groups: Friends of the Warner page and I Support Warners Theatre in HP.

Matt Lambros has a fine 2018 post about the theatre on his After the Final Curtain site that includes photos he took in 2017. 

Eric Lynxwiler has a number of fine 2007 exterior views in his Los Angeles Theatres set on Flickr including: looking up at the vertical | display cases | terrazzo | marquee soffit | facade looking up | from across the street | top of the tower | side tower detail |

Robert Tower, a former projectionist at the Warner, has a set of exterior views from 2009 in his HP Warner Theatre set on Flickr. He recounts tales from his time at the theatre on his blog It Rains...You Get Wet.

The building owner, Pouya Abdi, does business as Pacific Blvd. Holdings/Retail Management Corp. at 380-396 Los Angeles St. and 1301 S. Main St. Suite 206, both in Los Angeles. The phone is 310-275-9222.

The Warner Huntington Park pages: back to top - history + exterior views | lobby areas | auditorium | projection booths | stage | basement |

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