Villa Glen Theatre

404 N. Central Ave. Glendale, CA 91203 | map |

Opened: 1923 as the Tuesday Afternoon Club. The building contained other meeting rooms and offices in addition to the theatre space. This early view of the front of the building from the Los Angeles Public Library collection shows theatre entrance on the left, the club rooms off to the right. The club had started in 1898 and its early activities included the founding of the Glendale Public Library. The building was on the east side of the street between Lexington and Milford.

Joe Vogel comments: "Central Avenue is a secondary commercial street parallel to, and two blocks west of, Brand Boulevard. Early in the city’s history, it was expected to be the main commercial street (thus the name) and Brand Boulevard was expected to be a broad, residential avenue. The extension of the Pacific Electric interurban line along Brand Boulevard reversed the intended order."

Architect: Alfred F. Priest. Priest had earlier designed the Glendale Theatre on Brand Blvd., opening in 1920. Joe Vogel found this item in the March 31, 1922 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor: "Auditorium and balcony to seat 900, banquet room, parlors, palm room, tea room, library, service department; Spanish Style … cost $70,000."

Seating: 900 originally, later listed as 652. Several people have noted that they were unpadded wood seats. Thanks to Ken Roe for the latter number, one appearing in the Film Daily Yearbook editions for 1950 and 1952. 

The Glendale Symphony performed in the auditorium in 1924. In the late 20s the theatre was known as the Glendale Playhouse. The 404 N. Central Ave. address is listed as the Show Shop Theatre in the 1930 through 1940 Glendale city directories. Cinema Treasures contributor Dan Matson notes that the L.A. Times reported in 1934 that the city of Glendale banned the showing of "Elysia," which they called a "nudist film." He also found a Times report in the January 5, 1944 issue about a projection booth fire killing a young boy.

 A 1945 listing for the Show Shop. Thanks to Ron Strong for spotting it. 
It was known as the Arcade Theatre beginning September 27, 1946. They closed for a remodeling December 6, 1950.

Thanks to Ron Strong for this flyer for the theatre's new "Cycloramic" screen, "The magic screen of the future." This was an insert in the Glendale News-Press during the first week of January 1951. The theatre was planning on a reopening on the 17th. 
The theatre ran as the Arcade into 1954. In the 1962 through 1970 city directories it's listed as the Tuesday Afternoon Theatre at 408 N. Central. As the Villa Glen it was running both classics and current Hollywood releases beginning July 1, 1970. It's in the 1972 city directory under that name with the address of 404 N. Central. Tommy Cooper occasionally presented shows at the Villa Glen before he got the Vagabond.

Closing: It closed August 4, 1976 according to Ron Strong's research on his Bijou Memories page about the theatre.

Status: After closing it was evidently used as a mortuary for a year and then demolished. Deanna Bayless notes that a plaque in the sidewalk states that the building's cornerstone was moved to a new location in 1975. Evidently it should say 1977. Deanna found the 1977 date cited in a November 28, 1985 L.A. Times story about the proposed demolition of a Glendale Elks lodge.

This photo of the south side of the building along Lexington is from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. Also in the collection is a view of a banquet room taken during the celebration of the building's dedication.

A later view of the building with the theatre, on the left, called the Glendale Playhouse. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Thanks to Ron Strong for finding it in the collection for his Bijou Memories page. 

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Villa Glen for all the stories uncovered by Ken Roe, Joe Vogel, Deanna Bayless and other intrepid researchers. And don't miss Ron Strong's Bijou Memories page about the theatre. Also see Ron's Villa-Glen Theatre album on Google Photos.

Another theatre using the Glen name earlier was the Glen Theatre on E. Colorado St.

Tropico (a separate town until 1918) had a Thursday Afternoon Club. In the collection of the Oviatt Library at CSUN: 1916 exterior photo | c.1916 auditorium view |

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