Opened: April 6, 1926 as a West Coast Theatres house with their affiliate, Southside Theatres also involved. The initial film was "Behind the Front" with Wallace Beery. It's a block and a half south of Manchester on the west side of Vermont. In the 1929 city directory it's called the West Coast Balboa. After Fox took over the circuit it was called the Fox Balboa.
My how the neighborhood has changed. The image is a detail from a 1951 photo by Julius Shulman looking south on Vermont toward the theatre. He was photographing the Bank of America branch at Vermont and Manchester, indexed on the Getty Research Institute website as his Job #1091. Also on the site, if you have time to browse, are thousands more photos in their Julius Shulman Photography Archive.
Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Hoss C for finding the Shulman images in the Getty collection and extracting this detail for Noirish post #30797 which contains the three shots from the set as well as recent street views.
Rental information: 323-333-7249 or Elvis at ElvisGuinan@gmail.com
Architect: L.A. Smith
Thanks to Mike Rivest for finding this article in the April 4, 1926 issue of the Los Angeles Times. Another article in the April 4 edition of the paper was spotted by Ken McIntyre:
"The Balboa Theater represents an investment of more than $250,000 and is of Class A construction. The lot is 80x130 feet on the west side of Vermont, just south of Eighty Seventh Street. The building was designed by L.A. Smith, and is of the Spanish type. It will seat 1250, and is designed in an intimate, cozy style which makes it an ideal neighborhood house, and the policy of the management will be to present the finest feature pictures and as complete a program as can be seen at any of the downtown theaters."
Later it was a Nation of Islam mosque. They moved out in 2009 and the building was put on the market. Beginning in 2015 it was used as a film production facility, the Pan Andreas West, a project of actor George Pan-Andreas.
Status: It's still sitting there on a desolate stretch of Vermont and looking abandoned. It's occasionally used for film production work.
A look down from the balcony for a curious sight with the theatre in use as a production facility. Note "Nation of Islam" still painted on the bottom of the asbestos. It's a 2015 photo from the defunct website CandidCastingTV.com.
Toward the front house left. Well, the organ chamber area is a mess but there's still a bit of sidewall decor and the proscenium left to look at. Photo: Candid Casting - 2015
More exterior views:
1983 - It's the "Stairway to the Stars Talent Show." Thanks to the now-vanished website American Classic Images for the photo.
2004 - The building as a Nation of Islam mosque. Thanks to Ken Roe for his photo, appearing on Cinema Tour and Cinema Treasures.
2012 - Not much action anymore on this once busy street. Photo: Google Maps
2015 - Thanks to Steve Milner for this photo, appearing as a post on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.
2019 - The forlorn building from across Vermont. Photo: Bill Counter
2019 - An entrance detail. Photo: Bill Counter
2021 - A photo by Don Nash II. Thanks to Don for sharing it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Balboa. The site also has a page started for the Jurdan Theatre, the earlier theatre on the property.
The Cinema Tour page about the Balboa has several 2004 exterior shots by Ken Roe.
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