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Cameo Theatre: interior views

528 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90013  | map |

The Cameo Theatre pages:  history | exterior views | interior views

The lobby as a retail space: 

Looking in from the street. The original boxoffice was about where the "h2o" mat is on the floor. Above the mat, look at the remnant of a wall that's on the line of the entrance doors. It was once a vaulted ceiling in the area between the entrance doors and the street where we see the fluorescent fixtures in the photo. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018

The lobby as seen from just inside the line of the original entrance doors. The guitars are on the wall where the doors separating the lobby from the auditorium once were. On the far right of the image is a curtained entrance into the auditorium. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018


Looking over to the house right side of the lobby. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018
Again we see the guitars on the wall where the doors to the auditorium would have originally been. Later the doors were removed and the lobby area expanded by building a bulbous enclosure into the auditorium where the last couple rows of seats in the center section had been. The partition seen here that's several feet farther back from the "guitar wall" was added when this became a retail space. The bulbous enclosure is several feet in beyond that. 

The view back out toward Broadway. There would have been a pair of entrance doors either side of the two center columns. Note the exit sign where the left pair would have been. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018 

Looking in with a different scene as the long-time retail tenant was packing up to move. The auditorium is through the doorway on the right edge of the image. In 1910 the boxoffice was between the columns and in the 1920s it was moved out to the sidewalk line. When the theatre got a snackbar it was between the columns with a window facing this direction so non-ticket buyers could purchase from the bar without going inside. Photo: Bill Counter - November 2020 
Looking out toward the street. Photo: Bill Counter - November 2020 

A view across from the door of the men's room house left. 1n 1910 this would have been space at the back of the auditorium with the doors to the lobby in the opening in the wall at the right. At the left is the partition added since the area became a retail space with the stairs to the booth and ladies lounge visible through the doorway. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020 
The men's room, on the main floor house left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

At the rear of the auditorium in space later enclosed for added lobby area. The auditorium is to the left through the curtains. The partition at the right was added to seal off the auditorium from the retail area. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Originally this would have been an open standee area with a railing in line with the wall at the left. It's been enclosed with that bulbous ceiling, which can be seen from in the auditorium. The back wall of the auditorium (and the front of the booth) is actually in line with the red column to the left of the stairs. The stairs head up to the ladies lounge on the house right side of the booth. 

The stairs to the booth and ladies lounge. The doorway at the left is to a storage area that had been carved out of the back of the auditorium house right when the theatre was still operating. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

Vintage auditorium views:

An early view of the proscenium and the little "singer's balconies" on either side. Thanks to Brian Michael McCray for sharing the card from his collection. A version of it can also be seen as part of the Broadway Part 3 tour in Brent C. Dickerson's "A Visit to Old Los Angeles" on the website of Cal State Long Beach.

The painting on the curtain is of the harbor at Avalon, Catalina Island. The musicians' locker and lounge rooms were under the stage. Original seating capacity was 900. The photo the card was based on appears with a February 11, 1911 Moving Picture World article, which also gives an extensive description of the theatre. It's on Internet Archive.

A postcard look at the rear of the house. Note the raised loge section at the very back. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for sharing the card from her collection. There's a black and white version on Councilman Jose Huizar's "Bringing Back Broadway" set on Flickr.

A slightly different view that appeared with an article about Clune's Broadway in the July 10, 1915 issue of Moving Picture World. It's on Internet Archive. Note the added viewing window upstairs from the ladies lounge and the revised back wall. 

Recent auditorium views: 

A look in from the back of the house. Thanks to Chris Roman for his 2012 photo. It once appeared on Flickr but seems to have vanished from that platform.  

We get a bit more of the ceiling in this 2011 photo. Thanks to Julia Solis for this view that once appeared with a post on her website Stages of Decay. She commented: 
"'Are you sure you don’t want to take my picture too?' said the owner of the electronics store when I asked for permission to photograph his storage room. Most people wouldn't be too thrilled about strangers wandering between their stacks of merchandise, taking photos. But perhaps the employees here are used to sight-seers, since no one paid the least attention when he pointed the way to the back of the building. A generous man, even if he didn’t let me take his portrait after all. Hardly a stage of decay, this theater has been kept in excellent shape since its closure. Opened in 1910, it was California’s longest running theater until it folded in the 1990s. Like several other original Broadway theaters in Los Angeles, it’s hanging on as a warehouse space."

A closer look toward what was once a 21' x 28' proscenium, now concealed with a larger screen. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007 
A view toward house left. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020
A sidewall view. Thanks to Julia Solis for her 2011 photo. Her expeditions in various theatres led to many photos and a 2013 book called "Stages of Decay." It's available on Amazon. Also see the posts of many of her terrific photos of abandoned theatres on the site Dark Passages

A sidewall pilaster and fixture detail. The capitals are original but the lighting fixtures were added later. Originally there were concealed lamps lighting the ceiling coves as well as some hanging fixtures.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2007 

Another sidewall detail. This fixture still has the bowl on the bottom. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020 

A closer look at the capital. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020 

One of the fixtures of unknown vintage. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

The center of the ceiling. It was art glass at one time. Perhaps it's still there above the paint. A 1915 Moving Picture World article refers to it as a skylight that can be used for ventilation in the summer. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007 
A detail of the plaster around the center of the ceiling. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020 
The rear of the auditorium. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020 

A closer back wall view. The bulbous area at the center was added in the distant past to provide a bit more lobby space. The angled enclosures left and right were added at some later time to provide storage or office areas. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

A look to the booth. It's unknown what that curious construction on the ceiling out in front of the booth is all about. Perhaps an area for mechanical equipment. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

A closer look at the back wall house right. The window goes to the ladies lounge. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

At the back of the auditorium house left, looking out into the lobby area. on the right is the back of the partition installed to separate the retail area from the stairs and auditorium entrances. Photo: Bill Counter - 2020

Up in the booth:

An article in the February 11, 1911 Moving Picture World noted that the original equipment included "three Edengraph projectoscopes and two stereopticons."  The article is on Internet Archive.

A photo of the Cameo's projection booth that appeared in the December 23, 1911 Moving Picture World. Note the open front switchboard on the booth's front wall. They had already replaced the Edengraph projectors. With the photo is a letter sent by Frank Chartrand, chief operator at the theatre:

"...Have seen several pictures of operating rooms but none equal to our own. It is up to date in every respect. Every convenience possible is employed, even to toilet and wash room. We have two Hallberg motor-generator sets supplying current from 110 volt D. C. circuit, three Motiograph machines, two being in use, alternating to avoid any wait between pictures. We also have dissolver, cyclopticon for rain, snow, fire and cloud effects, color wheel and spotlight.

"Picture is 25 x 22, projected 110 feet. Can pull 30 to 50 amperes, but only use 32 to 35 on account of having a very bright screen. The switchboard shown in one of the pictures, was built by Mr. Loper, our manager, who is an electrician of note. It is the best of its kind I have seen for some time. We can throw over from generator to rheostat or vice versa, without any stop. We also have a motor re-wind and many other conveniences. Size of room is 18 x 22 feet by 22 in height. House seats about 990, has nine-piece orchestra. Show runs 11 A.M. to 11:30 P.M.'"

Part of the reply from the Moving Picture World editors:

"It certainly is a pleasure to look at that room. It is, of course, larger than is really necessary but that is a mighty good fault and one not often found. Lack of space obliged me to trim top and bottom of photo so realization of the height (22 ft.) is lost.” I must correct you as to size of picture. If it is 25 feet wide it would be 18 3/4 high. Height is approximately 3/4 of width, you know." Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar del Valle for finding the 1911 article for a Theatre Talks post.

An article in the July 10, 1915 Moving Picture World ran with the heading "One of the Popular Photoplay Houses of Los Angeles." Regarding the booth they noted that the equipment had been changed yet again: "...There is a spacious projection room in the Broadway. In size it is about 15 by 20, with a 17-foot ceiling. The throw is 112 feet. Two Powers 6A machines and a double dissolver constitute the chief features of the equipment. A third projector is to be added. In the roof is a big skylight -- it must be at least 5 1/2 by 6 feet at the base -- for ventilation in summer."

A July 20, 1924 article in the L.A. Times that discussed the renovations prior to the theatre's reopening as the Cameo noted that the projection booth would be widened.

 The booth front wall. Photo: Joël Huxtable - 2011

The view down from the booth's spot port. The projection throw is about 110 feet. Photo: Joël Huxtable - 2011. Thanks, Joël!

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

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