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Alhambra Theatre

 731 S. Hill St. Los Angeles, CA 90014 | map |

Opened: It opened as the Alhambra Theatre in 1913, operated initially by Mr. E.J. Tally. The theatre was on the west side of the street between 7th and 8th. It was part of the five-story Silent Building, a project of its owner Edward Silent. This early view of the building, with the theatre's entrance on the right, is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. An item on page 1396 of the September 27, 1913 issue of Motion Picture World noted:

"NEW $65,000 THEATER AT LOS ANGELES - A palatial theater seating 900 people, was opened in Los Angeles recently. It is under the control of the Tally Amusement Company, with E.J. Tally as president and F.J. Kawkins as vice-president. It will be known as the 'Alhambra' and will use the Universal program as does Mr. Tally’s other theater, the popular 'College' on Hill Street. On the exterior of the 'Alhambra' there are 1250 electric lights. The furniture and fittings are magnificent and comfortable."

Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor HughMN for finding the article. In addition to the College Theatre and the Alhambra, in mid-1914 E.J. Tally also built out a storefront on Broadway to become the Palace of Pictures. E. J. shouldn't be confused with his more famous theatre owning brother Thomas Tally. Prior to going out on his own, E.J. had worked with Thomas and his wife Mary at various phonograph parlor locations and at the Electric Theatre on Main St. See the Tally's Broadway page for a timeline of Thomas Tally's exhibition adventures. 

The theatre is still listed as the Alhambra in the 1915 city directory. In late 1915 it was leased to Fred Miller and became Miller's Hill Street Theatre. It's again the Alhambra in the 1916 through 1923 and 1929 city directories. Miller had other theatres including Miller's and the California on Main St. and later the Figueroa and the Carthay Circle.

Architects: Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Reese Burns of the firm Hunt and Burns designed the office building and theatre.

Seating: 878

Closing: The Alhambra was running as late as 1931. The closing date is not known.

Status:  After closing, the office building remained but the theatre's auditorium was demolished and became a parking lot. The office building was later demolished as well. Except for one small restaurant building, the whole middle of the block is now parking. The only buildings remaining are the Foreman Building at the SW corner of 7th & Hill and the Garfield Building at the NW corner of 8th & Hill.

1919 - Looks like a Dustin Farnum festival. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Dallas Movie Theaters for posting the trade magazine photo on the site's page about the Alhambra. 

c.1920 - Looking west on 7th Street from Broadway. Across Hill St. is a roof sign for the Alhambra. The the sign isn't on the theatre building itself but it has an arrow pointing to the theatre on Hill between 7th and 8th. The photo from the California Historical Society is in the USC Digital Library collection.

A bit of the back of the building housing the Grand Theatre on Grand Ave. (at the time of the photo called the Strand) is visible to the left of the Alhambra sign. Farther down 7th on the Brockman Building the Kinema, later renamed the Criterion Theatre, has a big sign with an arrow pointing off to the right. In the foreground, the State Theatre would soon rise in place of the buildings on the left. Beyond the alley is the marquee of the Palace Theatre, a venue that would close in 1921.

c.1920 - A detail from the USC photo showing the signage for the Alhambra.

1920 - The Marine Corps helping promote "The Dwelling Place of Light," a September release. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Dallas Movie Theaters for posting the trade magazine photo on the site's Alhambra page. 

1921 - The theatre doing a promotion for "Queen of Sheba," an April release. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Elmorovivo for finding the photo to add to the site's page about the theatre. 

1921 - The photo appeared in the January 7, 1922 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review with the caption: "'The Lotus Blossom,' an all Chinese production distributed by National Exchange, is an unusual picture, and when it made its first bow to the public at the Alhambra, Los Angeles, Manager Newberry reproduced the Oriental atmosphere of the picture in his lobby with good box office results." The issue is on Internet Archive.

1929 - A view of the 700 block looking north with a glimpse of the Alhambra marquee at the far right. On the marquee is "Love Doctor, a talkie." That's the Garfield Building, still standing, on the left. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.

c.1931 - A lovely view south on Hill St. from 7th. The Alhambra is over on the right in the middle of the block. The RKO Hillstreet can be seen down at 8th. In the distance there's signage for the Belasco and Mayan with an arrow pointing across to the east side of Hill St. It's a California Historical Society photo on the USC Digital Library website.

c.1931 - A detail from the USC photo giving us a closer view of the Alhambra. The front of the marquee is unreadable but the end panel saying Bill Haines and Marie Dressler would lead one to believe they're running either "Hollywood Revue of 1929" or "The Girl Said No," a March 1930 release. 

1939 - A view north on Hill from just below 8th St. The Alhambra Theatre still has its marquee and vertical but at this point it had become a parking lot. The Foreman Building at this end of the 700 block remains but the rest is gone. The Warner can be seen across on the north side of 7th St. It's a Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection.

1939 - A closer view of the former theatre. It's another Dick Whittington Studio photo in the USC Digital Library collection.

1939 - A detail from the previous Dick Whittington photo.

2018 - This parking lot on the west side of Hill between 7th and 8th was once the location of the Alhambra. Photo: Bill Counter

More information: See the discussion by Joe Vogel and other researchers on the Cinema Treasures page devoted to the Alhambra.

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