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Wood's Opera House

410 N. Main St. Los Angeles, CA 90012 | map |

Opened: In 1876 showman Colonel J.H. Wood opened the venue as Wood's Opera House. An address before the last round of street renumbering was 310 N. Main. It was a two story building with the theatre on the 2nd floor. The end of the block where it was got shaved off during construction of the 101. It would have been on the east side of Main about where the Arcadia St. sidewalk is now.

Architect: Unknown

Woods was only 4 doors south of the Merced Theatre and the greater opulence of the new theatre helped cause the demise of the Merced. A two line item in the April 19, 1878 L.A. Herald advised "The happiest men in town can be found at Wood's Opera House." Also in the same issue: "Every lady is well treated at Wood's Opera House." In the April 28, 1878 issue: "Go to Wood's Opera House and then to the race track."

The paper has many tiny mentions of various shows at the theatre and the June 30, 1876 Herald commented about cowhiding: "Yesterday about half past one o'clock John Lathrop, a well known hack driver, was cowhided by an actress of Wood's Opera House. The cowhide was laid on with brawny muscle and John took it like a man. The actress' husband was at hand and when Lathrop attempted to strike his assailant the husband gave him several blows with a cane which assisted in his demoralization. The cause of the assault was an alleged insult at the Opera House last night." The Herald issues are on the website of the California Digital Newspaper Collection.

The theatre was running at least into June 1878 but soon Mr. Wood was bankrupt and the theatre closed. It reopened in 1883 as the Our Club Theatre, a variety house. It's in the 1886-7 city directory as being under the direction of the Perry Bros., who also listed the premises (310 N. Main was the address at the time) as their residence. Some accounts just call it the Club Theatre.

The Club Theatre is shown in the lower left of this section of an 1888 Sanborn real estate map that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Main St. is off to the left. Note the Pico house in the upper left. The poor Merced Theatre just to its south has by this time been turned into a Salvation Army Hall. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Flying Wedge for including this map (and others) in his Noirish post #14168 about the Merced Theatre.

The Perrys (E.H. and J. H.) later closed this one and went over to the new Tivoli Theatre (which later, under other management, was called the Cineograph) for a brief fling in 1890. The Perry boys get mentioned in a December 18, 1890 L.A. Times piece about the closing of the Tivoli.

Status: Closing date of the Wood's/Club Theatre is unknown. On an 1894 Sanborn map it's renumbered as 410 N. Main and listed as vacant. It's been demolished. The building was evidently around as late as 1948. The hotel building south of the theatre, on the corner of Main and Arcadia, went first.

1888 - Looking south across the facades of the Pico House and Merced Theatre. Wood's is the two story building with the flat second floor facade just to the left of the telephone pole right of center. Down beyond Arcadia St. is the Baker Block. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.     

1920 - Looking north from Arcadia St. The corner building on the right is the Orchard Hotel. The squat building just to the left of it is the former home of Wood's Opera House. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  

- A William Reagh photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The squat two story building on the far end is the former Wood's Opera House.

mid 1940s - An Arnold Hylen shot looking north toward the Plaza. The building nearest us once housed Wood's. Thanks to Mr. Hylen's grand-niece Greta Gustafsson for posting the photo on the Arnold Hylen Photographer - Los Angeles Images of an Era 1850-1960s Facebook page. John A. Pappas notes that the photo is 1948 or later as there's a trolley coach feed bracket on the span wire.

c.1950 -  The building once housing Wood's is gone. The Masonic Hall, Merced Theatre (with "SIGNS" on the side) and the Pico House are the only survivors on the east side of the 400 block.  The photo was taken during the construction of the 101. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality, who found the shot on eBay for his Noirish post #17274.

2019 - Looking east down Arcadia St. at what was once the location of the south end of the 400 block. Wood's would have been about where the sidewalk down Arcadia St. is now. Photo: Bill Counter 

Around the back:

1921 - A look up Sanchez St. toward the Plaza. Close to us on the left, we get the edge of the Orchard Hotel building at the corner of Main and Arcadia St. The second building with the blank wall on the second floor is the stage end of what had been Wood's Opera House. The tallest building beyond is the Merced Theatre. Just before the Plaza is the back of the Pico House. The photo is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

c.1935 - On the left, a view of the stage end of the former Wood's Opera House. At the far right we get a sliver of the south wall of the Merced Theatre. Thanks to Robert Klaus for posting the photo on the Facebook group Historical Photos of Los Angeles.

More Information: Well, there doesn't seem to be any.

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