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Majestic Theatre

845 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014 | map |

Opened: November 23, 1908 as Hamburger's Majestic with Oliver Morosco as lessee. Morosco was earlier the tenant of the Burbank Theatre on Main St. and in 1913 would move up the street to the Morosco Theatre, a building now known as the Globe. The opening attraction at the Majestic was a Shubert production of "The Land of Nod." Morosco liked the Majestic name as he had a half interest in a successful theatre called the Majestic in San Francisco.

The c.1920 photo is on Calisphere from UCLA's L.A. Times Photographic Archives. The building was constructed for Moses A. Hamburger, who owned the department store on the north end of the block (at 8th) that would later became the May Co. In 1930 the Eastern Columbia Building would rise just south of the Majestic. On the right side of the photo is Tally's Broadway Theatre

An earlier Majestic project: Alfred Rosenheim is sometimes mentioned as the architect but that was for an earlier version of a Majestic Theatre project for Morosco on the east side of Broadway between Sixth and Seventh, discussed as early as 1904. See some newspaper stories and drawings relating to that earlier project down near the bottom of the page.

Architects: Abraham M. Edelman and Leo W. Barnett of the firm Edelman & Barnett designed the building. Edelman also designed the Belasco/Follies on Main St. and the Empress/Capitol Theatre, right behind it, on Spring. He was also involved in early phases of the Shrine Auditorium project. Structural engineering for the Majestic was by the firm of Mayberry & Parker. F.O. Engstrum was the contractor.

The basement of the building had a cafe open to the public during the day and to theatregoers at night. The eighth floor of the building had facilities for a "dramatic club," later used as a drama school, that included a 30' x 68' theatre space with a capacity of over 250 and a stage.

Dutch artist Antoon Molkenboer (1872-1960) was responsible for the Majestic's proscenium mural as well as decorations elsewhere in the theatre and its basement cafe. Molkenboer's mural above the proscenium was titled "Cast of Characters" and portrayed sixteen figures in a scale larger than life. Included were representations of "Truth," Comedy" and "Drama" as well as some representing local color: a cowboy, a Mexican dancer and several Indians.  A Dutch website devoted to Molkenboer's work has a lovely set of pages on the Majestic.

Seating: A bit less than 1,700. It was a two balcony house. The 2nd balcony was accessed via separate stairways.

Stage: The proscenium was 36' wide and 32' high. The depth was 38' with 80' wall to wall. Grid height was 64'. The grid beams were reinforced concrete, like nearly all the building's structural elements. Dressing rooms were on three levels stage right and in the basement. The flyfloor was stage left, 25' above stage level. There was a paint bridge. 

The April 28, 1907 issue of the Los Angeles Herald announced "Majestic Theater Plans are Ready." The page can be viewed on the website of the California Digital Newspaper Collection. The item: 

"NEW PLAYHOUSE TO ADORN SOUTH BROADWAY... Active work on the erection of the new Majestic theater on the west side of Broadway, 100 feet below the site of the Hamburger department store, will soon begin. Architects Edelman & Barnett have completed the working drawings, which will be given the contractors within a few days. The theater will be 80 by 167 feet in extreme dimensions and eight stories, with deep basement."

This drawing of the proposed theatre appeared with an article in the L.A. Times on June 2, 1907. Thanks to Larry Harnisch for finding it for his fine Daily Mirror article about the Majestic. The caption read: "Finally accepted design, by Edelman and Barnett, of the much talked of Hamburger theater building, for south Broadway, work on which was begun Monday." The article noted:

"The Hamburger Department Store announces plans for a theater just south of its new building on South Broadway at 8th Street, designed by the architecture firm of Edelman and Barnett. According to plans, the horseshoe-shaped theater is to seat 1,600 people, with a balcony and a gallery. The stage is to be 40 feet by 80 feet, with a proscenium 36 feet wide and 32 feet high. 
"The interior of the arch will be finished in ‘Art Nouveau’ as a suggestion of the beautiful effect given by the arch of the New Amsterdam Theater in New York City. The facade of the eight-story building is to be pressed brick and terra cotta with inlaid colored glazed tile. The marquee of hammered copper is to measure 14 feet by 23 feet, extending from the building to the curb."

The June 2, 1907 Los Angeles Herald also had a story: "Contract is Awarded for Majestic Theatre." It's on the California Digital Newspaper Collection website. The Times ran an additional story about the project on June 12. 

An illustration of the new theatre that appeared in the August 24, 1907 issue of the Los Angeles Express. Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for including it in "Treading the Boards with the Majestic Theatre Los Angeles in Engineering News, 11 February 1909," his fine 2024 discussion of the building for the Homestead Museum's blog. And thanks to Jason Vega for spotting the article. 

A Times article on August 25, 1907 noted:

"There are many unique engineering features about the new Hamburger’s Majestic Theater, a permit for which was issued last week, calling for an outlay of $180,000. The building is an eight-story reinforced concrete structure...Perhaps the most interesting feature of the engineering work are the cantilevers, which support the balcony and gallery, in which the cantilevers have a clear projection or overhang of from twenty-five to thirty feet. 
"The cantilevers are really forty to fifty feet in length, extending from the exterior walls of the structure to the extreme end of the balcony, part of which hangs in mid air without support other than afforded by the delicately balanced base. These are reinforced with cold twisted steel bars which are anchored into the exterior walls. These cantilevers are four feet longer than the famous ones on which the balcony of the Temple Auditorium hangs….."

The April 8, 1908 issue of the Los Angeles Herald had news of the project in their item titled: "Work on Theater Building." They noted: 

"Work on Theater Building - Wall construction is nearly completed for the Hamburger Majestic theater, on South Broadway, a structure that will cost at least $200,000. The theater is to seat 1800 persons and to be thoroughly fireproof, with latest apparatus for fire fighting, as well as all modern equipment for shows, concerts and large extravaganzas. The building is to be eight stories." 

A section drawing appearing in the February 11, 1909 issue of Engineering News, a publication in the collection of the Homestead Museum. One of the interesting features of the design was that the upper three floors of the eight story building were on top of the auditorium.
Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for including the article's drawings and parts of the text in "Treading the Boards with the Majestic Theatre Los Angeles in Engineering News, 11 February 1909," his fine 2024 discussion of the building for the Homestead Museum's website.

A plan, half showing the 1st balcony, half showing the 2nd balcony, aka the Gallery. Source: Engineering News - 1909 
The balcony and gallery structure. Source: Engineering News - 1909
Paul Spitzzeri comments that the Engineering News article details what the L.A. Times referred to on August 25, 1908 as "the many unique engineering features" of the building. Quoting from the E.N. article, Paul notes:
"Specifically, the cantilevers used to support the massive balcony and gallery 'have the greatest known projection of any known reinforced-concrete cantilever, while that of the balcony has a equal projection with the longest known steel cantilevers of similar construction,' excluding work for bridges. These were 27-foot long for the gallery and 30 feet for the balcony, the latter having a half-dozen cantilevers, two on the side measuring eighteen feet and the four central ones totaled 45 and 51 feet in total, meaning 15 to 21 feet within the structural supports, and rested on columns situated between the auditorium floor and that of the foyer and anchored to a six-story wall at the back of the theater. The technical explanation of how stress was distributed is complicated, but was deemed to have been implemented 'in an admirable manner.'

"Beyond this, it was remarked that the use of reinforced concrete for the balcony and gallery joists or beams was considered 'very economical' because the casting to follow the curvature of the balcony was 'a feature that could not be carried out in structural steel except at a considerable increase in cost.'... Boxes on the sides of the proscenium arch projected six feet out and had six-inch cantilevered slabs, with the rails, stairs and partition walls all cast of reinforced concrete as part of what was deemed 'truly a monolithic structure.'

"The article also observed that 'The spanning of the auditorium with three great reinforced-concrete beams was a rather bold but successfully solved engineering problem. There are beams of longer span than these, notably those in the Temple Auditorium in the same city, which are, however, more truly arched trusses and support only a roof. The beams in the Majestic Theater have horizontal chords and carry a three-story building [meaning the office floors above the auditorium] on them.' 
"Again, the technical details are a bit mind-numbing in terms of the supports for carrying a maximum load of 375 tons, but it was observed that 'supporting these great trusses are massive columns over 80 ft. long' and these latter extended two feet outside the auditorium and into adjoining alleys in the form of pilasters, which helped to open up the space and limit intrusions for patrons. Another innovation was extending the columns into the next floor above the auditorium, but slightly reduced in size, to further deal with the thrust and moment in the handling of forces..."
Thanks, Paul!  

On the 1st balcony level, looking toward house right. Source: Engineering News - 1909 

One of the reinforced concrete roof trusses. Source: Engineering News - 1909

Fabricating one of the trusses with twisted iron reinforcing rod. Source: Engineering News - 1909

The construction of the theatre was also discussed in "Engineering Features Majestic Theatre Building," an article in the February 6, 1909 issue of Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer. It's on the HathiTrust website via Google Books: page 6 | page 7 | page 15 | page 16. Many thanks to Byron Taylor for locating the article. It's also reproduced near the bottom of this page.

Load testing the 1st balcony. Note the holes in the risers of both balconies for installation of mushrooms under the seats for air distribution. The photo appeared with "Engineering Features Majestic Theatre Building," in the February 6, 1909 issue of Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer. The caption:"Test load on balcony, Majestic Theatre Building, 95,600 pounds on 381 square feet."  

"Two of 71-ft. trusses over auditorium." The photo appeared in Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer.

A shorter version of the Contractor and Manufacturer article used the same photos and appeared as "A California Theatre of Reinforced Concrete" on pages 67 to 73 of the June 1909 issue of Architect and Engineer. It's on Internet Archive and can also can be viewed on Google Books

A June 14, 1908 L.A. Times article about the new theatre and its decor. Thanks to the Dutch site AntoonMolkenboer.wordpress for locating the article. Another story about the wonders of the new theatre ran in the July 5 edition of the Times.

This story about the new theatre appeared in the Los Angeles Express in October 1908. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating it for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group.

The L.A. Times ad for November 23, 1908. 

The opening was reviewed in "New Theater Gem Setting," a story in the November 24 edition of the Times: 

"Representative Audience at the Majestic... Brilliant Affair Credit to All Concerned. The large representative audience that went to the opening of Hamburger’s Majestic Theater last night, for the production of 'The Land of Nod,' got more than the usual theater crowd gets, even on an opening night. For the audience not only saw something new and vivacious on the stage, but it saw something newer and more beautiful in the cosy [sic] playhouse. 

"Cosy is the best way to term it. And yet it has size, seating, as it does, nearly 1700, and it looks big. But the cosiness comes from the fact that its construction gives such a perfect sightline to the whole stage, its unsupported gallery and balcony present no obstruction to view and the roominess of the seats is an invitation to return.... A color scheme of soft dark green, rose and gold, which under the indirect system of lighting, gives the whole auditorium a peculiar glamour...

"FINISHED ON TIME. Those who saw the theater at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon wondered how it could ever be opened with a finished performance. There were then two hundred workmen hurrying with all the finishing touches. The mahogany doors that opened on the foyer, the great crown chandeliers that hung in the foyer, the carpets on the aisles and on the foyer floor, the seats and the electrical connections were incomplete. Scaffolding, litter and debris were everywhere. But there was a mind that had calculated the fractions of the minutes in the finishing work, and when 7 o'clock struck it found everything in place... the interior, which combines all the skill of the stucco artist and the genius of a decorator like Antoon Molkenboer, whose canvas of beautiful figures above the proscenium arch represents 'The Casts of Progress.' It is an interesting allegorical group in complete harmony with the rest of the decorations.

"BEAUTY AND COMFORT. But the most conspicuous feature of the interior is that the gallery and balcony spans, each 75 feet, are maintained without supporting columns and from each the view of the stage is as clear as if no other floor existed. This is true of the main floor. Another feature is that the ten proscenium boxes project from the walls over the orchestra circle and are without canopies, except such as the bottoms of the upper boxes make for the lower and where the lighting is from a beautiful glass lambrequin. Another feature noticed by all, but perhaps not understood by all, was the roominess of the seats. Manager Morosco has a sympathy for the fat man...

"The foyer, though incomplete, gave an adequate idea of what it will be when workmen have completed their task in the next few days. Entering from Broadway through a lobby of white marble and red marble and granite columns with green side walls and a highly ornamented stucco ceiling, the visitor turns into a reception room... Probably no adequate conception of the entire beauty of the interior may be gained until all the embellishments have been added and this opportunity will come as the week progresses..." 

The Majestic was home to many of the major touring musical and dramatic productions to hit Los Angeles. In its early days the Shubert syndicate provided a lot of the bookings. The theatre occasionally did movies, but was a legit operation most of its life. Ramon Navarro had his first job at the Majestic, as an usher, later playing bit parts. 

A scene from a production of "The Winter's Tale" that played the theatre in January 1909. Thanks to J. Craig Owens for locating this image from the Los Angeles Herald that he shared in a post on his Bizarre Los Angeles Facebook page.  
In 1909 the 8th floor of the building was given over to The Morosco-Egan Institute of Dramatic Arts, a school begun in 1909 by Morosco and and Hobart Bosworth. Drama teacher Frank C. Egan soon was on board and ended up running the operation. By 1911 it was just "The Egan School" and he soon moved the operation to a building on Figueroa, the Little Theatre, later known as the Musart.

"Positively the Biggest Vaudeville Performance Ever Given in Los Angeles." It's a 1912 flyer for a benefit performance. Thanks to Jeff Greenwood for sharing this from his collection of memorabilia related to his great-grand-aunt Anna Robinson. She was a singer, actress and vaudeville performer. Her husband Frederick Palmer organized this benefit. Formerly a magician who toured with Anna, by this time he was editor of a film business trade magazine called "The Rounder."

The theatre had a film booking in 1913. In a March 30 article located by Jeff Bridges the Times reported: 

"The remarkable advance that has been made in motion photography within the past few years is being proved at the Majestic Theater every afternoon and evening this week, in the series of films called 'Satan,' and representing the efforts of the evil one to conquer good. The films were made in Italy by the celebrated Ambrosio company and are typical of the foreign-made motion pictures. The 'Satan' films will be continued at the Majestic throughout this week."

The cover for the sheet music for "Imps March" from Morosco's "extraordinary" production of "Tik-Tok Man of Oz." It's in the collection of the New York Public Library. The production opened at the Majestic on March 31, 1913 and only played in Los Angeles. Thanks to Michael Hudson-Medina for spotting this one.

Danni Bayles-Yeager, on the page about the Majestic on her site Bayles-Yeager Archives of the Performing Arts, notes that 
"the Majestic saw its share of sad stories: One night in 1913, as Lon Chaney, Sr. was onstage performing, his wife Cleva ran to the wings and attempted suicide by ingesting mercury bichloride. She lived, but was never able to sing again. Lon Sr. immediately cut her out of his life, telling Lon Jr. that she had not survived the poison." 
Cinema Treasures contributor Englewood adds that the April incident is related in an article about Chaney in the February 19, 2006 L.A. Times Magazine.  

Anna Held at the Majestic in November 1913. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for posting the ad on Photos of Los Angeles.

The Times reported in their April 17, 1914 issue that the two parts of the film "Native Life in the Philipines" would be at the theatre for a ten day run. 

Oliver Morosco lost control of both this theatre as well as the Morosco (now called the Globe) in early 1915. Management was assumed by S.H. Friedlander, talent manager and operator of theatres in many eastern cities as well as in San Francisco and Oakland. Other stockholders in the new operating company included Detroit businessmen Thomas J. Quinn and S.E. Whitney along with local businessmen Bert Shaw and H.D. Hertz. 

The transition was covered in "Morosco's Successors - Veteran Theater Men To Take Over Two Theaters," an article in the January 31, 1915 issue of the L.A. Times. article part 1 | article part 2 | The tail end of the article noted:

"As to the future of the two theaters controlled by these men, Mr. Friedlander stated that it was possible that after playing the present bookings at the Majestic, the house would be turned into a great motion-picture-house for the playing of the best feature films available, or a stock company might be installed. He stated that the Morosco would continue to be the home of musical comedy."

The Majestic became a full-time film house in 1915 and in June the Major Film Manufacturing Co. had the lease on the building.

This item about Major taking over appeared on page 54 of the June 26, 1915 Motion Picture News. It's on Internet Archive. In April 1916 the theatre had the premiere engagement of the Thomas Ince biblical epic "Civilization."  

In 1917 one of Oliver Morosco's ventures as a film producer played the theatre he earlier had managed. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating the April 16 ad for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.

In early 1919 Thomas Wilkes Enterprises began operating the theatre offering productions by their resident stock company. This 1922 ad for a Wilkes show was located by Ken McIntyre. Wilkes also operated theatres in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver and New York. In Hollywood the theatre currently known as the Montalban opened as Wilkes Vine St. in 1927.

The Majestic's logo as it appeared on a 1924 program.

The cover of the 1924 program for "Captain Applejack," performed when the theatre was still under Thomas Wilkes management. It's from the collection of Danni Bayles-Yeager. You can see the full program on her website.

The Times issue of June 6, 1924 reported that Hamburger sold the building to M.H. Price of the M.H. Price Realty and Investment Co. for $1,000,000. The story noted that the eight story building with an 80' frontage on Broadway and a depth of 167 feet contained two stores and 114 office suites. At the time of the story Price was studying his new property and noted that extensive renovations were planned for the theatre.

In 1926, the theatre was operated in conjunction with the Orange Grove Theatre on Grand Ave., better known as the Grand Theatre. A June 12 L.A. Times article located by Jeff Bridges noted: "The Majestic and Orange Grove theaters were merged into one organization yesterday when a deal was closed by Michael Corper, Ralph Spence, Will Morrissey and Arthur Freed. Corper will officiate as director-general of both theaters, holding a controlling interest over all productions which Spence and Morrissey are to stage at the Majestic. Morrissey, it was announced, will open at the Majestic Sunday evening, the 20th inst., with a new edition of his Music Hall Revue…." The productions at the time were somewhat salacious and resulted in occasional police raids.

The cover from the 1928 program for "Hit the Deck." All the inside pages are down at the bottom of the page. Thanks to Ron Mahan for sharing the program from his collection. In the late 20s and early 30s the theatre was an occasional film house including runs of "Top Speed" with Joe E. Brown (an August 1930 release) and "So This is London" with Will Rogers (a June 1930 release).

An ad for "French type" usherettes. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting the 1930 ad. 

Clark Gable and Adriam Morris in a publicity shot for "The Last Mile" at the Majestic in 1930. The photo is on Calisphere from UCLA's L.A. Times Photographic Archives. Thanks to Michael Hudson-Medina for spotting it in the collection. The last several years of the theatre's operation were devoted to movies and burlesque. A December 8, 1932 Times article discussed a trial of six performers from a production at the theatre who were convicted of violating the "indecent show ordinance."

A 1932 ad located by Scott Pitzer.

Closing: "Pleasure Seekers" may have been the last show to play the Majestic. The item appeared in the April 22, 1933 issue of the Times. "Majestic Theater's Heyday Recalled on Eve of Razing," an April 23 Times article listed many of the productions and performers that had played the theatre. Evidently the theatre had not sustained any damage in the March 10, 1933 Long Beach earthquake.

Status: Sadly, the 25 year old theatre was demolished in May 1933 to become a parking lot. Joe Vogel notes on Cinema Treasures that Film Daily reported on May 25, 1933 that the theatre had been "closed and dismantled."

The proscenium mural:

The mural for the proscenium arch by Antoon Molkenboer (1872-1960). Thanks to the Dutch site for the photo. The site, dedicated to Molkenboer's work, has a Majestic Theatre page that indexes the nine photos seen here.

The proscenium mural being roughed out in the artist's studios on W. Pico Blvd. The photo is from Molkenboer.wordpress where they note: 

"On the window it reads: 'J. B. Evans No. 2548.' The studio was located on West Pico Boulevard (Pico Heights) in Los Angeles." 

The June 14, 1908 article about the theatre in the L.A. Times noted: 

"Interior decorations for the Hamburger Majestic Theater of Broadway, between Eight and Ninth streets, are being prepared by Antoon Molkenboer at his studio, No. 2548 West Pico street. The ‘cartoon’-as artists call it- for the beautiful panel over the great proscenium arch has been completed, and the artist is now preparing the canvas on which the final work will be painted. 

"The order for the artistic embellishment of this beautiful fireproof theater is perhaps the largest ever given for any structure on this Coast, as the work will include the decorating, in original designs, of the auditorium, lobby, foyer and cafe. The panel over the stage, in sight of the entire audience, is the only part containing human figures. All the rest will be in ornamental effects of flowers and birds." 

An August 28, 1908 article about Molkenboer that appeared in the Los Angeles Record. Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for locating it. 

The house left side of the mural. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress

A detail from the center. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress

The artist working on the mural. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress. The site notes: 
"In 1905 Molkenboer moved with his wife to New York. While he studied at the Arts Students League, he made cityscapes of New York and the ruins of San Francisco after the great earthquake of 1906. After winning a contest he was asked to work on the Majestic Theatre on South Broadway in Los Angeles, including the mural above the proscenium...Molkenboer worked with twelve assistants more than a year on the job, which also included the decoration of the lobby and the restaurant. The theatre's name was 'Hamburger's Majestic Theater.'..."

The rear of one of the photos. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress

The right side of the mural. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress

A detail from the right side. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress

A closer look at the far right end of the mural. Photo: Molkenboer.wordpress. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Eric Leeuwenberg for posting a link to this material on the site's page about the Majestic. And thanks also to theatre sleuth Michelle Gerdes for spotting it there.

Interior views: 

Working on the sounding board mural in 1908. It's a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

A view to the stage that accompanied "New Theater Gem Setting," the article celebrating the opening that appeared in the November 24, 1908 issue of the L.A. Times. Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for including it in "Treading the Boards with the Majestic Theatre...," his 2024 article for the Homestead Museum.

An undated view of performers onstage at the Majestic from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. And that's it. No other photos of the interior have surfaced.

More exterior views:

An opening day view of the entrance that accompanied "New Theater Gem Setting," the article celebrating the opening that appeared in the November 24, 1908 issue of the L.A. Times. Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for including it in "Treading the Boards with the Majestic Theatre...," his 2024 article for the Homestead Museum. The Times called it "a busy scene at the entrance" and noted that 500 men had been involved in the construction. 

c.1908 - Looking south from 8th & Broadway toward the Majestic. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.

c.1908 - A postcard from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Also see another similar card they have.

1909 - The Majestic makes an appearance in the center of this detail from the Bird's Eye View of Los Angeles. It's in the Library of Congress collection. 


1913 - A fine view toward the Majestic facade and, adjacent to Hamburger's Department Store, Tallly's Broadway Theatre. In the lower right the Woodley Theatre is under construction. It opened in September 1913 and in 1920 got renamed the Mission. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Note that the Majestic still didn't have a vertical sign.

c.1913 - A giant C.C. Pierce panorama taken from 9th and Main. The Majestic is over at the far left. The California Historical Society photo appears on USC Digital Library website.

c.1913 - A section of the C.C. Pierce five-panel panorama with a view of the south side of the Majestic Building and the stagehouse of the theatre. The photo is on the USC Digital Library website. Note the Stilllwell Hotel in the distance on the 900 block of Grand Ave. It dates from 1912. To its left the Trinity Auditorium is under construction. It would open in 1914.

The "Egan School" signage on the side of the building refers to a school headed by Frank C. Egan, a popular drama teacher of the era. He later moved his operation to the building on Figueroa housing the Little Theatre, a venue he renamed the Egan, later known as the Musart Theatre. The school had earlier been known as the Egan-Morosco School. On the stagehouse it says: "Hamburger's Majestic Theater & Office Building  Oliver Morosco lessee & manager."

c.1913 - The Majestic is on the left in another panel from the panorama by C.C. Pierce on the USC Digital Library website. We're looking northwest from 9th & Main. If you look down the street to 8th and Broadway you'll note that the Merritt Building isn't there yet. Note that the initial lettering on the vertical said "Theatre" rather than "Majestic." That's the Woodley/Mission Theatre in the lower right.

c.1915 - A view across to the newly completed Trinity Auditorium building from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Note that the Egan School signage is gone and they were then advertising "Popular Prices." On the stagehouse there's a new sign noting that the lessee was now the Major Film Manufacturing Co. Oliver Morosco was gone. 

c.1915 - A photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

1915 - A look at the south side of the building from across 9th St. It's a 1915 view by G. Haven Bishop in the Huntington Library collection. Southern California Edison commissioned it not to look at the theatre, but to document their power lines going to the building at the right. The low-rise building this side of the Majestic would later become the site of the Eastern Columbia Building.

1915 - A detail from the G. Haven Bishop / Huntington Library photo. That's the stagehouse at the left.

c.1916 - Looking north from 9th with the Majestic and Tally's on the left and Woodley's Theatre the second building in on the right. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the photo on eBay for his Noirish post # 52423.

1916 - The crowd gathered for the April 17 opening of the Thomas Ince film "Civilization." Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Dallas Movie Theaters for finding the trade magazine photo to add to the site's page about the Majestic

c.1916 - A lovely look north on Broadway with the Majestic Theatre, Tally's Broadway, and the big hulk of Hamburger's Department Store beyond. This is half of a stereo pair taken by Underwood & Underwood. It's in the Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California at Riverside. It's on Calisphere where, at last look, they thought it might be somewhere in Nebraska.

On the far side of 8th that's the Hulett C. Merritt Building, dating from 1915. Down at 7th the Bullock's building is visible. On the far right is the Woodley Theatre, later renamed the Mission. It's now the site of the Orpheum 

c.1916 - A detail from the Underwood & Underwood photo. That's the Majestic on the left.  

c.1917 - A fine look south toward the Majestic from the William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection at the California State Archives. Note that the vertical has been redone to say "Majestic." The painted sign on the edge of the building says "Popular Prices 10 15 25 cents." Down across 9th St. it appears there's no Blackstone's Department Store yet. That building, designed by John Parkinson, opened in 1918.

1920 - An entrance view with posters advertising the Wilkes Stock Co. in "The Country Cousin" with Evelyn Varden and Edward Everett Horton. The production opened in January. The photo is on Calisphere from UCLA's L.A. Times Photographic Archives.

1923 - A wonderful parade photo looking south toward 9th St. Starting at the left it's the pre-Eastern Columbia Building version of clothing retailer Columbia ("Good Clothes"), the curved marquee of the Majestic Theatre (with a couple of guys standing on it), Robbins (a credit retailer) and Tally's Broadway Theatre. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles private Facebook group.

1925 - Looking north with the Majestic on the left and a snatch of the Tally's Broadway sign visible beyond. That's the Orpheum under construction on the right. The photo is in the USC Digital Library collection.   

1926 - On the right the Majestic Theatre is down beyond Hamburger's Department Store. The Orpheum hasn't quite opened yet. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for finding the photo on eBay and including it on his Noirish post #21355. Note the erroneous caption. we're actually looking south toward 9th.

c.1928 - An undated view Ken McIntyre located for the private Facebook group Photos of Los Angeles. We're looking south from 8th & Broadway past Hamburger's department store, the Majestic Theatre, and on toward the United Artists. Note that there's not yet the southern expansion of Hamburger's. That would come in 1929.

1929 - A great look north on Broadway in this detail from a C.C. Pierce photo in the Huntington Digital Library collection. The United Artists is running Mary Pickford's "Coquette." The photo also appears in the USC Digital Library collection.

c.1929 - How often do you see a 60 ton whale on Broadway? It's a look north toward the Majestic from the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Note the 1929 addition to Hamburger's Department Store just beyond the Majestic. The lot this side of the Majestic still has the low-rise Columbia building on it. The new Eastern Columbia Building would open on the site in September 1930 after just nine months of construction. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for finding the photo in the NHM collection and posting it as his Noirish post #32330.

1930 - Claud Beelman's Eastern Columbia building under construction. At the right we see the Majestic. It's a Moss photo from July 3 that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Also in the collection see a photo of the building nearer completion and finished.

1930 - Looking north toward 8th St. with the newly opened Eastern Columbia Building on the left. The Majestic is running "Top Speed" with Joe E. Brown, an August release. Just beyond, note that Tally's Broadway is no more. The May Company was still working on the storefronts of the addition on the Tally's site. At the Orpheum it's "Little Accident," a July release with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Anita Page. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.

1930 - A Mott Studios view in the California State Library collection. The Majestic is again seen running "Top Speed." The bottom line on the marquee says "Talking Pictures." The photo is in the Library's set #001443391 with 14 other photos of the Eastern Columbia Building.

Also see another version of the photo in set #111412390. There aren't any good views of the Majestic included but if you're looking for daytime shots of the Eastern Columbia  Building, see the Library's 15 photo set #001386281. And there's another 10 photos of the Eastern Columbia in the daytime in set #001386284.

1930 - A detail from a USC Digital Library view looking north in December at the Christmas decorations. The USC collection also includes another shot taken the same night. That's the United Artists on the left.  

1930 - A Christmas season view from the California Historical Society in the USC Digital Library collection. The Majestic marquee and vertical can be seen on the left. The film they're running is Will Rogers in "So This is London," a June release. The Orpheum, on the right, is running "Ex-Flame," a November release.

1930 - A detail from the previous USC photo.

1931 - We get a look at the Majestic's vertical in this view north from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

1931 - The Majestic is down there in the distance this side of the Eastern Columbia Building in this great postcard view. On the right in the foreground is the short-lived Broadway entrance in the Merritt Building to Bard's 8th St., a theatre better known as the Olympic. The marquee on the left edge is that of the Globe Theatre, here called the President. The card is in the collection of Gerald DeLuca on Photobucket

2011 - The Majestic was just this side of the turquoise Eastern Columbia Building. On the site now is a single story retail building and parking garage for the lofts in the Eastern Columbia. On the right is the 1929 expansion of Hamburger's Department Store / May Co.) that devoured Tally's Broadway. Across the street is the Orpheum. Farther south in the 900 block is the tower of the United Artists Theatre. Photo: Google Maps

2018 - Looking north along the Majestic's site. Photo: Bill Counter

The article appearing in the February 6, 1909 issue of Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer:


The 1928 program for "Hit the Deck" from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection:

Ticket stubs from "Hit the Deck." They're also from the Ronald W. Mahan Collection. Thanks, Ron!


The earlier Majestic project: From 1904 to 1906 A.F. Rosenheim went through several designs for an office building that would house a theatre for Morosco on the east side of Broadway between 6th and 7th, the block where the Orpheum/Palace Theatre went up in 1911. 

This illustration of first version of the proposed theatre appeared in the August 16, 1904 issue of the L.A. Times. Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for including it in "Treading the Boards with the Majestic Theatre Los Angeles in Engineering News, 11 February 1909," his 2024 Homestead Museum article. The article in the Times that day:

"Incorporation papers of the Majestic Building Company were yesterday sent to Sacramento for the signature of the Secretary of State, and the $300,000 seven-story fireproof hotel and theater proposed for the east side of Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh streets, will probably be built. It is proposed to begin work September 1, and it is estimated that the entire structure will be completed by March 1, 1905. 

"Oliver Morosco is to be the lessee of the theater, and will make the new place his principal house. He will continue the control of the Burbank on Main street as a cheaper priced theater…..'The theater will seat 1600 people,' said Oliver Morosco yesterday, 'and I claim that it will be the most gorgeously and completely finished theater in the Southwest…' A.F. Rosenheim is the architect."
In the October 18, 1904 L.A. Times, Jeff Bridges located this report from San Francisco: 
"Oliver Morosco has arrived here from Los Angeles, and when seen at the [San Francisco] Majestic Theater tonight, where the house was sold out for a big benefit for the Outdoor Art League, said: 'I’m here looking after my business, as I own half of this house. I have made arrangements to erect the counterpart of this Majestic Theater in Los Angeles. A. Rosenheim, who designed the Herman Hellman Building, will be the architect, and the structure will cost half a million. 
"It will front on Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and work will positively be commenced within fifteen days.' The San Francisco Majestic is the most elegant theater here and the erection of its counterpart in Los Angeles will give that city as fine theater accommodations as will be found on the Coast."

Version #2. It's a 1904 drawing by A.F. Rosenheim for the unbuilt Majestic on the 600 block. Thanks to contributor Dallas Movie Theaters for locating it for a post on the Cinema Treasures page about the Majestic.
One appearance of this Rosenheim drawing was in "Majestic Theater for South Broadway," an article in the February 16, 1905 issue of the Los Angeles Herald. Thanks to Paul R. Spitzzeri for locating it. The page can be viewed on the California Digital History Collection website. The owners were overly optimistic about a schedule for the project and promised a start within 30 days. The Herald's article:   
"Handsome Structure to Adorn Leading Business Street -- The proposed Majestic theater on the north side of Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh Street referred to heretofore in these columns, to to be erected during 1905 on the lines suggested in the accompanying illustration at an outlay of $300,000. The chief promoter of the improvement is G. A. Livingston, who was enabled to secure a forty-year lease on the lot that has a frontage on Broadway of 122 1/2 feet and a depth of 155 feet. The officers and directors of the company are: President, Oliver Morosco; vice president, Clarence A. Miller; secretary, A. F. Rosenheim; G. A. Livingston and Charles Eyton. The joint owners of the site are Harry Chandler, Dr. John R. Haynes, N. Bonfilio and L. J. Christopher, each the owner of one-quarter interest.

"Plans for the building, which ate In the classic renaissance, have been drawn by Architect A. F. Rosenheim, the designer of the handsome Herman W. Hellman building. The Majestic will be a combination business, office and theater structure, and it will be a steel fireproof building throughout. The front will show a seven-story building, with exterior finish of granite, pressed brick and terra cotta tile. The business section will include space for five store rooms, each seventy-five feet in depth, in addition to the entrance in the theater center twenty-five feet wide and fifty feet in depth. Three high-speed electric elevators will be accessible from the entrance hall. The upper floors will be subdivided into 100 modern office rooms.

"The theater will be built on the rear of the lot, occupying 80 x 122 1/2 feet. This part of the improvement will be patterned to some extent after the Metropolitan opera house in New York. Passing through the central entrance from Broadway, patrons will enter the grand foyer, 30 x 60 feet, twin stairways leading to the balcony. The inner foyer, or promenade section at the rear of the parquette, will he partitioned off by a thick glass screen extending from the boxes from side to side and up to the ceiling, with over a dozen exits. This will afford opportunity for those who wish to promenade to witness the play from the rear. There will be three tiers of elaborately decorated boxes on each side of the stage, and the proscenium arch will be a work of art.

"The stage will be 35 x 80 feet and equipped with every device needful for the presentation of the most elaborate productions. The auditorium, balcony and gallery will seat 1600 people. Entrance to the gallery will be through a separate passageway on tho south side of the building, entering from Broadway. The one-story structures now occupying the site will be removed within thirty days, and as soon as the contract can be let, work on the erection of the Majestic will commence."

The Times reported on August 20, 1905: 

"...Architect A.F. Rosenheim has completed working drawings for this magnificent theater and office building to be erected on the east side of Broadway, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and the plans are now ready for estimates. It will be a seven story, attic, and basement structure, 116.6 x 150 feet, thoroughly fireproof, and modern in all its appointments…"

Version #3. A revised drawing of Rosenheim's theatre project for the 600 block. It appeared in the Los Angeles Herald's October 22, 1905 issue with the heading "Majestic Theater Building to Adorn South Broadway."  The article can be viewed on the California Digital Newspaper Collection website. The Herald's copy:

"REVISED PLANS ACCEPTED -- The accompanying illustration presents the exterior of the Majestic theater building to be erected on the east side of Broadway between Sixth and Seventh streets, the revised plans for which improvement were drawn by Architect A. F. Rosenheim. The plans have been accepted, and in the near future the building will be erected. The building will be a seven-story attic and basement structure 116.6 x 50 feet, thoroughly fireproof and modern in all its appointments. The basement will have a twelve-foot and 19.8-foot ceiling, respectively; the first story 17.4 feet; second story 11.10 feet, and the remaining floors 10.4 feet; the attic will vary from 5.9 feet to 7.9 feet.

"The basement walls, piers and retaining walla will be of heavy concrete construction; the sides and rear of brick. The front will have polished granite base blocks, terra cotta facing up to the third story. Above that point will be faced with white pressed brick with terra cotta sill courses and caps. The upper portion of the front will have an elaborate galvanized iron cornice, with a projection of 5.2 feet above the cornice will be dwarf standards with electric light fixtures. The building will be erected on a steel frame which will be protected with fireproofing material. The floors, roof and basement will also be constructed of cement and concrete, and reinforced with three-elghths-ineh round steel bars. Hollow tile will be used for all partition walls. The light courts are to be faced with white enameled brick, Simons Brick company's hollow brick will be used as lining for the exterior brick walls.

"In the office portion of the building an iron stairway will extend from the basement to the attic. The mercantile rooms will have ample floors, oak trim and plaster cornice work finish. The upper floors will have fireproof finish, marble wainscoting and plaster moulding. There will be two electric passenger elevators and one freight elevator. At the entrance to the theater will be a large cast and wrought iron marquise supported from the building by heavy iron chains; It will have a roof of wire glass and ornamented with bronze grlll«work. The grand entrance will have marble floor, dado and pllasters. It will be 21 x 34 feet. 
"The grand foyer will be 26 x 50 feet, with marble floor and wainscoting, beam and plaster work. There will bn a marble double stairway from the floor of the foyer to the balcony. The auditorium and stage occupy a space of 82 x 145 feet, of which the stage has 34 x 82 feet and the auditorium 82 x 111 feet. The general finish of the front of the building will be in white. All iron work will be painted to give uniformity of color. The building will be equipped with fire escapes, prismatic lights to sidewalks, plate glass windows, steam heating and ventilating systems, high grade plumbing and everything that will constitute a first-class structure for theatrical and office purposes."

Well, it never got built. Plans and illustrations for the project appeared on pages 48 and 49 of the December 1905 issue of The Architect and Engineer of California. Rosenheim is best known as the architect of Hamburger's Department Store, containing a theatre called the Arrow. One later theatre design of his was Clune's Broadway in 1910, a theatre later renamed the Cameo.

Oliver Morosco did get another theatre on Broadway. The Morosco Theatre, now known as the Globe, opened in 1913 between 7th and 8th. But Rosenheim didn't get to design it. That one was by Morgan, Walls & Morgan. 

The Majestic in the Movies:

On the far right in this shot from "Ignatz’s Icy Injury" (L-KO Motion Picture Company, 1916) it's Hamburger's Department store and, beyond, the squat Tally's Broadway and then the Majestic. We're on the elevator penthouse of the Chapman Building on the northeast corner of 8th and Broadway.

Thanks to John Bengtson for figuring out the location and finding the trade magazine image. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for the full ad the photo is from. The film starred Billy Armstrong, Lucile Hudson and Reggie Morris. John has this film, and several others with stars hanging from the outside of tall buildings, analyzed in his Silent Locations post "Early Thrill Comedies -- Who Was First?"

We get a view north toward the Majestic in the short "A Bold, Bad Breeze" (L-KO Motion Picture Company, 1916). We're looking north toward 9th St. with the theatre building on the left and Hamburger's beyond. Thanks to John Bengtson for finding the image. He notes that star Billie Ritchie was filmed atop the Southern California Gas Company building at 950 S. Broadway. The film also features Billy Bevan and Lucille Hutton. This is another of the films John features in his Silent Locations post "Early Thrill Comedies -- Who Was First?"

Some filming for "The Eternal Question" took place at the Majestic. The December 29, 1917 issue of the Dramatic Mirror of Motion Pictures and the Stage noted that Mae Murray had been shooting at the theatre. It's on Google Books. And thanks to Steve Gerdes for locating this item via Internet Archive that appeared in the January 5, 1918 issue of Moving Picture World

"Mae Murray dropped more than 60 feet from a broken swing at the Majestic theater, Los Angeles, one night this week. And right over the heads of the audience, too, at least the audience was supposed to be there, but it wasn't. The player was making the drop for one of the scenes of 'The Eternal Question.'"

It's not listed on IMDb as being among the five films Mae did in 1918. The assumption is that it was released as "Her Body In Bond," a backstage drama from Universal out in June 1918. Earlier it was using "The Eternal Columbine" as a working title. The film played at the Superba in July 1918 and evidently had an earlier run elsewhere. The Superba was operated at the time by Universal's subsidiary Broadway Theatre Company. Mae wasn't happy about her billing in the ads. "Would Protect Her Good Name - Star of 'Her Body in Bond' to File Damage Suit" was an August 5, 1918 L.A. Times article about her complaints.

The most famous shot of the Majestic is this view from Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last" (Hal Roach / Pathé, 1923). Tally's Broadway is two storefronts beyond the Majestic followed by Hamburger's Department Store. It looks like Harold's on a building just a bit south of the theatres but he's actually hanging from a set built atop a building on the east side of the street. We also get a look at the Million Dollar in one scene. For more about the film as well as links to articles about shooting locations see the post on Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies.

A wild ride down the 800 block of Broadway is included in Harold Lloyd's "Girl Shy" (Harold Lloyd Co. / Pathé, 1924). He's using all available means of transportation to get into the city from his small town to prevent a marriage between the woman he loves and a cad who happens to be already secretly married. Here it's the Majestic and Tally's on the left with the Mission Theatre on the right. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more shots of the race down block. There are also earlier views of the Culver City Theatre and the Granada/Oriental on Sunset Blvd.

It's Dorothy Devore tangling with an awning on a set that's on top of a building in the 900 block on the east side of Broadway in the comedy "Hold Your Breath" (Christie Film Co., 1924). Scott Sidney was the director. Note the Majestic on the far left, Tally's Broadway a couple doors to the north and the Mission Theatre in the lower right. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for four more shots of Broadway from the film. 

In Harold Lloyd's "Feet First" (Paramount, 1930) we again see the Majestic. The trouble began at the Post Office in the now vanished Triangle Building just south of Olympic -- Harold arrived in town in a mailbag, you see. Beyond the set that Harold is climbing on we see the vertical of the Majestic on the far right. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more theatre views from the film including shots of the Tower and the United Artists.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page about the Majestic for a lively discussion of the theatre's history including copy from many newspaper articles unearthed by various contributors. The Pacific Coast Architecture Database has a page on architects Edelman and Barnett.

Surviving theatre buildings on the 800 block: Tower | Rialto | Orpheum | In addition to the Majestic, the vanished theatres on the block include: Arrow | GarrickTally's Broadway | Woodley/Mission Theatre |

Chapter XI of "The Stage in the Twentieth Century," a 1912 book by Robert Grau, discusses many of the theatres in San Francisco and Los Angeles at the time. Thanks to Mike Hume for finding it on Internet Archive.   

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