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Downtown: Spring Street theatres

The DTLA survey pages: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east |

Well, Spring Street didn't see the same kind of theatrical action that was on Main or (later) on Broadway. But there were a few interesting theatres including major vaudeville houses used by the Orpheum circuit (the Lyceum Theatre) and the Sullivan and Considine circuit (the Capitol Theatre). Spring is also noteworthy as L.A.'s first site for regular film exhibition at a Tally's Phonograph and Vitascope Parlor. This page surveys eighteen theatres on Spring plus three that were just to the west.

To see how the theatres were arrayed block-by-block see the downtown theatres by address page. Many of the theatres went under different names at various times. The downtown theatres alphabetical list includes those alternate names.


238 S. Spring St.  | map |

This nickelodeon opened around 1909 as the California. The 1910 photo comes from the AMPAS B'hend-Kaufmann Collection. The theatre took a few years off after 1915 and reopened around 1921 as the Columbia. The end came sometime around 1927. The location was mid-block between 2nd and 3rd on the east side of the street. For more information see the page about the California Theatre.


344/338 S. Spring St.  | map

This 1,100 seat vaudeville house opened in 1903 as Waldeck's Casino, a design by A.M. Edelman. After court battles and different operators it ended up with the Sullivan and Considine circuit as the Los Angeles Theatre. In 1911 they renamed it the Empress. The 1913 photo by G. Haven Bishop is in the Huntington Library collection. It later had many other operators and names before ending up as the Capitol, running until about 1930. It's been a parking lot since then. For more information see the page about the Capitol Theatre.

114 Court St.  | map |

It opened in 1890 as the Tivoli Theatre. Soon as the New Vienna Buffet, a combo restaurant and entertainment venue, it got a sordid reputation for the kind of entertainment that was happening in the private boxes. In 1902 it became the Cineograph with films and vaudeville. Later it was the Chinese Theatre. This block of Court between Spring and Main vanished during construction of City Hall. For more information see the page about the Cineograph Theatre.
436 S. Spring St. | map |

This nickelodeon opened sometime around 1909. It's in the 1909 city directory. It was on the east side of the street in the middle of the block between 4th and 5th. The last city directory listing was in 1911. The building it was in has been demolished. The site is now a park between the El Dorado lofts on the north and the Rowan Building on the south. There's a page started for the Edison Theatre but no other information has surfaced yet.   

460 S. Spring St. | map |

This house was running in 1908 as Herman's Fireproof Theatre. It made it at least until 1910 as it's in the city directory that year. In 1912 a new building rose on the site where the theatre had been on the NE corner of 5th and Spring. For more information see the page on the Herman Theatre.

Horne's Big Show
423 S. Spring St.  | map |

It opened in 1908 as Fischer's Chronophone, a house specializing in shorts made by Gaumont using their process of synching the picture with records and amplifying the sound pneumatically. W.T. Horne soon took over and jettisoned the talkies and ran silents. The image is a detail from a photo that appeared in a 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping. For more information see the page on Horne's Big Show

Ideal Theatre
134 S. Spring St. | map |

Evidently this short-lived mystery theatre opened in the late 20s. It's listed in the 1929 and 1932 city directories. The address would have put it in the middle of the block on the east side of the street between 1st and 2nd. It's not in the 1934 or 1936 city directories. The Los Angeles Police Department headquarters building now occupies the site. There's a page started on the Ideal Theatre but no additional information has surfaced. 

Isis Theatre
542 S. Spring St. | map |

This nickelodeon was running from 1911 until about 1917 on the east side of the street just a few buildings north of 6th. The Huntington Library photo is a detail of one G. Haven Bishop took in 1912 for Southern California Edison. For more information see the page on the Isis Theatre

Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 S. Spring St.  | map |

This is a complex of several legit theatres constructed in 1985. It's on the east side of the street just south of 5th. The lobby is inside the 1915 vintage Security Bank Building, the theatres are in the newer building to its south. For more information see the page on the Los Angeles Theatre Center

Lyceum Theatre
227 S. Spring St. | map |

This 1,488 seat two-balcony theatre opened in 1888 as the Los Angeles Theatre. It had a long history as a legit, vaudeville and movie house. In 1903 it was renamed the Orpheum and in 1911 when Orpheum moved to Broadway it became the Lyceum. The 1919 photo is from the Los Angeles Public Library. Demolition was in 1941. For more information see the page on the Lyceum Theatre

Lyceum Hall
231 S. Spring St. | map |

It opened c.1879 as the Turnverein Hall. When that organization moved to Main St. it became the Music Hall and later was known as Elks Hall and Lyceum Hall. The 1895 photo of the building and the neighboring Lyceum Theatre (at the time called the Los Angeles) is from the Los Angeles Public Library. The site became a parking lot in the 1930s. For more information see the page on Lyceum Hall.

Lyric Theatre
128 S. Spring St.  | map |

This 400 seat house opened in 1911 or a bit earlier and was running until 1919. The photo is a detail from one that appeared in the Moving Picture News in 1911. The Los Angeles Police Department headquarters building is now on the block where the theatre once was. For more information see the page about the Lyric Theatre.

Princess Theatre
121 W. 1st St. | map |

This house for stock companies, vaudeville and films located between Spring St. and Main opened in 1905 as Fischer's Theatre. The image is a detail from a 1912 photo by G. Haven Bishop in the Huntington Library collection. It was running into the mid 20s. Its site is now part of the park area south of City Hall. For more information see the page about the Princess Theatre

Rose Theatre
527 S. Spring St.  | map |

It opened c.1907 as the Odeon and was later known as the Orchestrion, the Crown Theatre and the Rose. Its demise was around 1914, presumably because the building it was in got replaced by a larger one. The Rose is on the left in this detail from a c.1913 California Historical Society/USC view north toward 5th. For more information see the page about the Rose Theatre.

San Fernando Theatre
618 San Fernando St./N. Spring St. | map |

It was a bit northwest of the Plaza and running with operators who were arrested in 1907 for having kids under 14 in the theatre, illegal at the time under city ordinance. The name San Fernando is mythical as research has not yet revealed the actual name of the theatre. It was in a storefront in the 1886 vintage Sentous Block, here seen in a Palmer Conner / Huntington Library photo taken before the building's 1957 demolition. For more information on the building and the theatre see the page about the San Fernando Theatre

Scenic Theatre
522 S. Spring St. | map |

Southwest Amusement Co. was running this 300 seat nickelodeon in 1907 and it evidently didn't last very long. It was on the east side of the street in the middle of the block between 5th and 6th, about where the southern end of the Los Angeles Theatre Center is now. For more information see the page on the Scenic Theatre.

Susuki Theatre
102 S. Spring St.  | map |

Well, it's unknown what the theatre was actually called. A listing for a theatre at this address appears in a 1906 Japanese-American city directory as a theatre operated by Sakae (or Ei) Susuki. It might have been a short-lived operation as it doesn't appear in the regular L.A. city directories for 1906 or other years. See the page about the Susuki Theatre.  

311 S. Spring St. | map |  -- also additional locations

In July 1896 a draped-off area in the back of this phonograph store became the second site in Los Angeles to actually show movies on a screen. The first had been a screening at the Grand Opera House on Main St. a few weeks earlier. In 1894 a location at 248 S. Spring had evidently been the first spot to exhibit films in coin operated machines. The c.1896 photo is from the collection of Terry Ramsaye, author of the 1926 book “A Million and One Nights, a History of the Motion Picture." For more information see the page about the various Tally's Phonograph and Vitascope Parlor locations.

Temple Theatre
158 N. Spring St., 155 N. Main St. | map |

The theatre was on the second floor of the Market House, a building built in 1859 by John Temple to house a public market on the ground floor. It only ran as a theatre for a couple of years before the upstairs briefly became City Hall and then the County Courthouse. The c.1886 photo is in the California State Library collection. The site is now under City Hall. For more information see the page about the Temple Theatre.

456 S. Spring St.  | map |

The Unique was running both films and vaudeville in 1901 and 1902 under the management of Flora E. Hentz and John U. Zallee. The team soon made a move to a new theatre at 629 S. Broadway. The building on the east side of the street just north of 5th that housed the theatre has been demolished. See the page about the Unique Theatre for more details.

244 S. Spring St.  | map |

This legit playhouse was running in 1886. Before the street renumbering the address would have been 144 S. Spring. The closing date is unknown. For more information see the page about the Vienna Theatre.

The DTLA survey pages: theatre district overview | Hill St. and farther west | Broadway theatres | back to top - Spring St. theatres | Main St. and farther east | downtown theatres by address | downtown theatres alphabetical list

| Westside theatres | Hollywood | Westwood and Brentwood | Santa Monica and Venice | [more] Los Angeles Movie Palaces | the main alphabetical list | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

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