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.
If ever faced with the impossible task of choosing to revive only one demolished building in Los Angeles, it would have to be the Richfield Oil Building.
Completed in 1929, the headquarters for the Richfield Oil Company stood at the northwest corner of Sixth and Flower Streets in downtown Los Angeles. Designed by architect Stiles O. Clements, of partners Morgan, Walls, & Clements, the 12 story steel-frame structure had an incredibly detailed Art Deco facade made of black terra cotta and gold-dust accent tiles. The distinct color combination, shared only with the American Radiator building, was meant to represent Richfield’s “black gold” industry. I imagine it was one of the best Art Deco buildings on the entire west coast and certainly the most distinct structure in the Los Angeles skyline.
In the heart of Burbank, there lies an Art Deco time capsule. Designed by architects William Allen and George Lutzi, Burbank City Hall is the essence of WPA Moderne-style.
Built in 1943, the municipal building has remained fully intact and still serves its original purpose, which makes it one of our favorite historic buildings in LA based on merit alone.
Designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant, the Sunset Tower Hotel is one of greatest examples of Art Deco architecture in Southern California.
As advertised in a 1938 issue of the Screen Actors Guild magazine, the Sunset Tower was “Hollywood’s Most Distinguished Address.” As one would expect, residents were mainly the who’s who of the entertainment business including John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Howard Hughes, Elizabeth Taylor, Billie Burke, Paulette Goddard, Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, and Bugsy Siegel. While thoroughly stunning both the inside and out, the building surpassed the standard of living for its opulent residents by incorporating modern conveniences such as outlets in every bathroom for personal appliances and large, modern windows to take advantage of the glistening city lights.