The A.G. Bartlett Building at 7th & Spring Streets was originally built by John B. Parkinson and Edwin Bergstrom as the downtown headquarters for Union Oil in 1911. The facade underwent an unfortunate modernization in the 1930s, and the entire building was converted to residential condo’s by Barry Shy in the early 2000’s.
Recently I shot Parker Center for the LA Conservancy as part of their campaign to save it. Opening in 1955 as the Police Facilities Building, it currently awaits an uncertain fate – either expansion or more likely, demolition. (Apologies for the recent array of stories of lost and soon-to-be lost architectural landmarks lately, I promise to feature at least one structure that isn’t facing demolition next week.)
I’ve often favored more elaborately decorated architecture styles like Art Deco and Beaux Arts, but I still enjoy the occasional Mid-Century Modern. Standing alone with plenty of cushion around its perimeter, Parker Center is a grand sight of its own in downtown’s Civic Center. I’ll be honest and admit that the landscaping does make all the difference, especially with the long palms casting their shadows on the facade.
The poor Roxie Theatre has been standing on its last leg for a while now. For the last few years we’ve fawned (and cried) over the now-derelict Art Deco facade. We have seen vintage photos, and the interior was, admittedly, nothing spectacular. The seats and the ticket booth had been torn out years ago, and last we heard the auditorium was full of merchandise boxes and rubble from the shops that occupied the lobby. Never ones to turn down an opportunity to shoot the interior of a movie palace, we waited for our chance to get in. A few months ago, we received a tip that the retail space was being worked on (aka swapmeet expansion) so we ran over to check it out. After pleading with the construction crew, we ran up the stairs in the back of the lobby to see the auditorium.
When we heard the Warner Huntington Park Theatre was sold last year, we knew we had to see it. Whether it was being renovated or demolished, the current interior was a mystery as it’s proved nearly impossible to find any photos after 1930. After a wealth of patience, we finally had a rare opportunity to document the theatre both inside and out.
The theatre opened on November 19, 1930, with the attraction “The Life of the Party.” It was designed by B. Marcus Priteca, the same architect of the Warner Grand San Pedro and our favorite LA movie palace, the Pantages. Priteca’s work never fails to impress with his immense attention to Art Deco details and iconic starburst ceilings.
Warner Bros. divested control to Stanley Warner Corp., who ran the theatre until 1968. It was then operated by Pacific Theatres, but the Warner signage never changed. In its later years, it had a successful run showing Spanish language films. Sometime in the ’80s, the theatre was horizontally twinned (a floor was built at the balcony level, creating two smaller screens). It closed its doors in the early ’90s and has been abandoned ever since.