An all access pass inside the final and most spectacular theatre built in the historic Broadway Theater District in DTLA.
The Los Angeles has always been one of my favorite old theaters within the historic Broadway Theater District.
I’ve been inside of it a few times before but never like this.
On a recent tour of some of Pasadena’s historic buildings, I was introduced to the Executive Director of The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, Escott O.Norton. I’ve always loved old theaters and now have a connection that will allow me access into some of LA’s oldest and most threatened movie houses around.
This Los Angeles Theatre was constructed between 1930 and 1931.
It was commissioned by H.L. Gumbiner, an independent film exhibitor from Chicago, who also built the nearby Tower Theatre.
Designed by S. Charles Lee, and Samuel Tilden Norton, the theater features a French Baroque interior.
The opulent fifty-foot-tall lobby, complete with crystal chandeliers and a grand staircase leading up to the mezzanine level. The mezzanine includes a three-tiered marble and crystal fountain.
The state of the art theater included a $34,000 Westinghouse switchboard which allowed ushers to keep track of seat counts and $80,000 worth of air-conditioning equipment to help keep it’s customers nice and cool.
It opened on January 30, 1931, with the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s, City Lights.
Charlie Chaplin was there opening night and was annoyed when Gumbiner stopped the movie midway to rave about the theater.
The projection equipment was ultra-modern and the large booth was able to hold extra projectors in case of a breakdown, as well as two large spotlights and a Brenograph, the machine that projected song slides and announcements on the screen.
Down in the basement was the main lounge with its glass ceiling, reminiscent of something you might find in a luxury ocean liner.
Back in the day, after the night’s films had ended, the theater would move its orchestra to the lounge, roll up the carpets, and hold dances on the parquet floor.
Off the main lounge was the ladies’ restroom…
…which featured different colored marble in each stall.
There was also a children’s play room/nursery area, with murals by Anthony Heinsbergen and a circus-themed plaster ceiling topped off with decorative severed animal heads.
Maybe it was less creepy back then.
The Los Angeles Theatre closed in 1994.
Today it is one of four movie palaces in downtown owned by the Delijani family and Delson Investment Co.
Now that “Bringing Back Broadway” is on a roll, there’s hope that the Los Angeles, along with all the other amazing theaters within the historic corridor, will be restored and appreciated once again. Break a leg, LAT!