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Olympic Theatre: interior views

313 W. 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90014 | map |

Also see: Olympic Theatre - history and exterior views 

The lobby area: 

Looking toward 8th St. from inside the former lobby after the lighting store vacated. Thanks to Hunter Kerhart for his 2014 photo. Many of his interior photos of the theatre also appear on a January 2014 DTLA Rising post by broker Brigham Yen that was written when he was looking for a tenant.   Keep up with Hunter's recent explorations: | on Flickr | on Facebook

Historic lobby photos? Well none have yet surfaced of this area when it was still a movie house. The building dates from 1917 and was first used as a restaurant before its conversion into a theatre in 1927. When it was a theatre, the full width of the building wasn't used as a lobby. There were small retail spaces on either side of the theatre entrance.

A March 2017 look in the door with renovations underway for the new COS store. Photo: Hunter Kerhart

The lobby area from the street when it was a lighting and home decor store. The columns and railings were part of their setup, not original. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The auditorium:

Perhaps the only surviving vintage view of the Olympic's auditorium. Thanks to Hillsman Wright of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation for sharing the photo

The LAHTF is active in promoting awareness of the historic theatres all over Los Angeles. They operate an archive, host public tours and work with building owners to facilitate re-use of the structures in a manner that preserves their historic integrity. | group Facebook page | official Facebook page

The proscenium area in 2004 with some draperies and the screen frame still in place. Thanks to Sean Ault for sharing his photo. He notes that at the beginning of this round of demolition the theatre, while having been used for storage, still had a sloped floor and the projection booth was still in place on the mezzanine. The seats had been removed earlier and worklights (seen in the photo) had been installed. The theatre had closed in 1997.

The house right organ grille in 2004. Photo: Sean Ault

A detail of plasterwork over one of the front exits. Thanks to Sean Ault for his 2004 photo. He notes that he got the two brass exit signs.

An auditorium view from the lobby in 2014. The theatre's sloped floor had been removed and was replaced by new wood framed construction during the retail conversion remodel in 2004. Photo: Hunter Kerhart

The proscenium and organ grilles. All this was stripped out during the 2016 COS remodel. This was basically just a film house -- there's not much room for vaudeville. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014

A closer view of the lady over the proscenium. She perhaps dated from the 1942 remodel. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

The right side of the proscenium. Note the steps down to the exit door due to the removal of the original sloped floor. This exit just went to a passageway behind the screen -- both front exits went into the alley via a set of four doors house left. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014

The gold ornament in the corner of the proscenium was original. That balcony railing wasn't original but the platform behind it was. It was the top of the exit passageway behind the screen. The speakers were on top of it. 

One of the lions guarding the empty house right organ chamber. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

A closer look at the house right organ grille. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

The plasterwork over the front exit house right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The footlight trough and remnants of the original stage under the later flooring. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016 

A curious Oriental-themed capitol. At the time of the photo there was no trace remaining of the ornamental pilasters on the sidewalls that were once below these capitols. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

The rear of the auditorium when the space was a lighting and home decor store. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

The rear of the auditorium in 2014. Both those stairways date from the retail conversion in the 1990s. The original to the mezzanine would have been in the lobby. That opening on the mezzanine between the two stairs was the location of the projection booth. Photo: Hunter Kerhart

Just to the left of that left stairway is the plastered opening that once led to the Broadway lobby and entrance through the Merritt Building. It was cut through in 1930 and didn't last long. In mid-2016 there was still an electrical box above it where an exit sign had been.

A ceiling detail. No, that thing wasn't original. The paint job in the center was fairly recent but the medallion itself was evidently installed during the remodel by Frank Matcham in 1942. There was originally a dome above -- much of the plasterwork remained until 2016. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014

A ghostly view to the rear through the house left organ grille. At the time of the photo the power was off as the general contractor recently had DWP disconnect the service. The service conductors in the basement leading to the manhole under 8th St. had virtually no insulation. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

A main floor view after the COS renovations. It's a Pablo Enriquez photo appearing with an August 2017 Bigham Yen DTLA Rising blog post about the store's opening.

 On the mezzanine:

A peek up into the mezzanine. We're looking at the area where the booth once was, added in 1927. The glass skylights above the mezzanine extended as far forward as the front wall of the booth and remained hidden above the booth ceiling. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A look out the mezzanine windows. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

A proscenium view from up at mezzanine level during the lighting and home decor store days. Photo: Bill Counter - 2012

East along the mezzanine. The windows look out onto 8th St. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2013

The arched glass ceiling of the mezzanine. The glass ceiling dated from the building's use as a restaurant before conversion into a theatre. The glass wasn't originally black -- it had been roofed over.  Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2013

One of the painted mezzanine ceiling panels. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2013

Another ceiling panel. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2013

And another. They were all different. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2013

A view down from the mezzanine. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014

The mezzanine looking west. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016 

The west end of the mezzanine over toward the auditorium side. Most of the wall construction we see here dated from the first retail conversion. The booth backwall would have been at that arched opening we see at the center. The skylights continued over to the right on top of the booth ceiling. When it was a theatre, some of this mezzanine area was the ladies lounge area. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016 

Above the booth ceiling. We're looking into this part of the attic via an access hole on the house left side -- 8th St. is off to the right. The big vertical duct at the center was the lamphouse exhaust. In the upper center one can see some of the arched glass skylight ceiling from the restaurant days. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

Above one of the skylights house left. They had covered the arched skylights with asphalt roofing material. And the at some later time added a wood framed roof above that -- visible at the top of the photo. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

A look down at the construction in April 2017. Thanks to Johnny Quintanar for his photo, added as a comment to an exterior photo posted on the Facebook page DTLA Development.

The completed mezzanine open as a store for COS. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2017 

A closer look at the imaginative ceiling treatment that replaced the arched glass ceiling that had dated from 1917. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2017

A look out the windows at the nicely refurbished vertical sign. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2017

 Look, they built a proscenium as an homage to the one they demolished! Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2017

In the attic:

We're looking back toward the booth. Note the taper downward as we approach the mezzanine. The roof there over the skylights is lower. The attic access was via a ladder backstage near the house left organ chamber. You can get from this main part of the attic to the area over the booth through an access hole at the end of the catwalk seen at the right. It runs down the house left side of the attic. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

Some areas, including a truss, had noticeable charring, perhaps from a fire in the dome in 1944. The worklights we see were a nice touch but there was no power in the building at all at the time of the photo.

The view across the middle of the attic. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016 

In the center ceiling dome. The theatre once had an elaborate plaster cove which we can still see the curve of. In the groove around it would have been incandescent lamps. Above, note the remnants of plaster on the joist. The center of the dome was just flat and white. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

Look directly below the join of the joists left of center -- we're looking out beyond the edge of the current center ceiling medallion to see the aluminum reflector of a metal halide lamp hanging nearby. Look this side of the reflector and note two runs of neon tubing that were just inside the edge of the ceiling medallion. In the lower left we see part of the framing for that medallion that covered up the dome.  

A view across the dome. This was one of those "stick your camera in the hole and push the button" shots. We're looking across the 1942 vintage framing supporting the center ceiling medalllion with the earlier cove above. Note the greenish boxes for neon transformers. At the far edge, that's the side wall of the auditorium we get a glimpse of. The medallion once had a chandelier at its center -- as did the original dome. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

Another dome view -- note the flat plaster above. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

In the attic looking down at the wood lath and plaster for one of the side wall arches and side curve of the ceiling. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016 

In the basement:

The lobby end of the basement. When the building was used as a restaurant between 1917 and 1927 it, of course, had a flat floor. That was removed and replaced with a sloped floor (concrete over wood framing) in 1927 when the building was converted into a theatre. That got removed in the late 90s and replaced with what we see here when the space was converted to retail use. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014

That staircase we see on the right (there's another out of frame to the left) are from the 90s retail conversion. There was an earlier stair over to the left so the basement could be accessed via a separate entrance just east of the theatre entrance.

Under the 8th St. sidewalk. That's the electrical service gear we see over in the southwest corner of the basement. Behind the wall at left we'd be under the street. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014

Toward the stage end of the basement. The side walls we see are not the real building walls -- there's a narrow corridor leading to stairs behind each. Photo: Hunter Kerhart - 2014. Thanks, Hunter!

Remnants of the theatre's sloped floor at the rear of the house on the house left side left rear. Photo: Bill Counter - 2016

The Olympic Theatre pages:  history and exterior views | back to top - interior views |

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