Estella Theater

515 N. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 14, 2014 at 8:03 pm

The Metropolitan Theatre was listed at 513 N. Main Street in the 1911 city directory. In 1909, 513 was the address of a photography studio and 515 of a fruit vendor and a barber shop.

kencmcintyre on March 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm

That article on Main Street was in the LA Times in 1930. If you have an LA library card, you can access the Times archives online. I don’t have a specific date in 1930 for the article, though.

dgarcia on March 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

Ken MC,

Thank you for posting such fascinating information! I’m researching the history of Mexican movie theatres. Does “Main Street: A Street of a Thousand Wonders” have any additional information on the various Mexican theatres? And, in which book on Mexican Los Angeles did you find the information on the theatres? Thanks!

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 2:33 pm

ladouglas has access to a 1928 Sanborn of the Plaza area and apparently 513 & 515 appear as one building that says ‘moving pictures’. That would explain the jumping around of the entrance and leads me to believe that 513 wasn’t a misprint.

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 1:10 pm

I don’t know if this link will work but it is a reverse type directory by address of Main street from 1956. If you hit the next page button it will continue to South Main:

View link

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 12:51 pm

I think Joe Vogel said somewhere that he used to eat at the bakery. Here’s a listing from the Los Angeles Street Address Directory, 1956, May,pg. 468:

507 N Main La Esperanza Bakery & Restaurant MI-3532
511 ½ N Main Rm 212 Sheriff’s Reserve MA 5-8621

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 10:52 am

If you’re in the Garnier block building and feel any strange presence, it might be old John McKay:
LA Times
(Feb 4, 1902)
John H. McKay, a carpenter, 40 years of age, was found dead in his room at a lodging-house, No. 511 ½ North Main street, at 2:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon. An open gas jet and the strong odor of illuminating gas showed the cause of his death. There is nothing, however, to indicate that the man committed suicide; but from information furnished the deputy Coroner it appears that he was the victim of a dangerous practice of turning the gas off and on at the meter at times which suited the pleasure of his landlady, who hoped to economize in her gas bills.

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 10:36 am

ladouglas…if you send me your email I’ll send you a PDF overlay with the 1906 Sanborn on top of a current satellite image…it might clear up some confusion about this area. My email is
I can also send you the PDF of the Paramount listing from 1923 showing the Estella.
Is there evidence of a Teatro Hidalgo in the 500’s? I must have missed that. I just thought that at first we thought it was the same as the Estella but then the 373 address kept showing up for Hidalgo. The building listed in 1906 as ‘Garnier Block’ contains 507, 509, 511 & 511 ½. I assume that’s the building that I now see with no roof when I go by there. The next building to the north contains 513 & 513 ½.

suisman on August 22, 2007 at 9:57 am

some additional thoughts. the Vickrey Brunswig building, which is 501 N. Main, had three storefronts, which would have been 501, 503, 505. The Plaza Building, listed as 507, also had three shops – 507, 509, 511. Since the theater building (next in line) occupied what had been previously been two or three shops (the maps are a bit ambiguous) it could have been variously listed as 513, 515, or 517. La Esperanza Bakery was, we believe, in the Plaza House (e.g. 511 ½), therefore next to the theater building, not in it. It’s fascinating that vokoban found the theater listed in 1915 and 1920 as the Metropolitan, and then in 1923, 1925, and 1930 as the Estella. This would jive with the growing Mexican immigrant population in the neighborhood in the 20’s ( as opposed to the old Californio families), which might well have led to the conversion of the name, and to Spanish-language from English-language movies. As for the Teatro Hidalgo confusion, if it was listed at any point in the 500 block of North Main, that’s a puzzler. Perhaps the Hidalgo, which was surely two blocks further south in the 300 block (in a two story building, from the photos) closed and the Estella took over its more prestigious name?

suisman on August 22, 2007 at 9:43 am

our gratitude for this posting. you have helped solve the mystery that our design team has been working on for several months, which is to confirm the existence and nail down the name of a cinema in the building directly north of the historic Plaza House building (aka Garnier Block, not to be confused with the Pco Garnier Block) at 507 North Main. Sanborn maps of Los Angeles from 1928 show a “moving pictures” label on the plan view of the building, and we have found the same photos from the LA Public Library giving us a general shape of the building. but your retrieval of the review from the LA Times establishing not only the name but specific activities of the theater is enormously helpful. we’re prepared to dig further on this – do you have any suggestions of where to look? for example, where are the Parmamount movie advertisements cite at the top of the entry to be found? thanks…

vokoban on August 22, 2007 at 8:18 am

The problem is that whenever it is mentioned in the newspaper, with or without an address, it is almost always called Teatro Hidalgo. I don’t know if that was just a common name people used or maybe the official business name was just Hidalgo and that’s what the city directory printed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 22, 2007 at 1:21 am

Also, given the solid evidence that the Hidalgo was at 373 N. Main Street from 1915 to 1936, and the absence of any printed evidence in directories or newspapers that it ever moved to the 500 block, the name Teatro Hidalgo should probably be removed as an aka for this theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 22, 2007 at 1:11 am

I guess this is the best we can do for now:

A 1931 photo of the Plaza Church. The Estella (if still there then) was probably in the single-story building just this side of the Coca-Cola sign.

A 1946 photo. The half-building at the left looks like an open-front grocery store in this picture, but I think it must have been where the Estella had been located.

The page for the much-discussed Teatro Hidalgo is right here.

vokoban on August 21, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I added the Teatro Hidalgo as a theater this morning. I guess it will show up soon.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 21, 2007 at 7:35 pm

A 1924 aerial view of the Plaza neighborhood the L.A. shows the buildings adjacent to the Plaza Church. The Estella would have been in one of those, and if the bakery. La Esperanza, was at 511 ½ then the most likely place for the theatre to have been would have been in the building second to the left from the large structure at lower right bearing the “Brunswig Drug Company” sign on its wall (its lower immediate neighbor is the Garnier Building, which housed the bakery.) I can’t find a picture of the front of that building that probably housed the Estella anywhere, but this c1926 shot shows the building immediately adjacent to the church.

I think it was user wdl posting on the Grand Theatre page who originally recalled the Hidalgo being located between the bakery and the church. Unless the Hidalgo moved late in its history to the former location of the Estella, he must have misremembered. The photo of the Hidalgo Ken linked to last year shows, at far left, a portion of the distinctive awning of the Baker Block, which was a block south of the plaza at the southeast corner of Main and Arcadia Streets (just out of view at right on the aerial photo I linked linked to.) That whole area was obliterated in the 1940s to build the freeway slot.

vokoban on August 21, 2007 at 11:40 am

A Metropolitan Theater shows up at 513 N. Main in the City Directory for 1915 & 1920. The Estella shows up at 513 in 1925 and then 515 in 1930 although the Paramount advertisement lists it at 515 in 1923. I wonder if these are two different theaters side by side or if its just more address shenanigans.

vokoban on August 16, 2007 at 1:01 pm

(June 2, 1918)
Among many other cosmopolitanisms, Los Angeles now harbors a real Mexican theater. Located in the heart of Sonoratown, it is housed in the Teatro Hidalgo, which, translated into plain, unassuming English, means simply the Exalted Theater……With the 3x5 stage of the exalted playhouse at No. 371 North Main street, the Mexican company finds itself somewhat restricted in the presentation of dramatic spectacles…..The house itself is one of the stand-bys of lower Los Angeles, and has seen every variety of service, from burlesque and motion pictures to an animal show and high-class foreign theatricals.

vokoban on August 16, 2007 at 12:54 pm

(April 19, 1924)
Up Main street among the business houses patronized by the Mexican population the lenten color persisted. El Teatro Hidalgo, usually given over to motion-picture drama of love or adventure, had a religious picture and the posters depicted the tragedy of the Cross. Beneath a huge cardboard crucifix sat a young man with a megaphone who cried: “Death and passion of Christ.”

vokoban on August 16, 2007 at 12:51 pm

I think the Teatro Hidalgo is a different theater and not a different name for the Estella. There are a few references of Teatro Hidalgo at both 371 & 373 N. Main.

(Nov. 8, 1931)
Teresa Bodrero to Teatro Hidalgo, Ltd., 373 North Main street, term 9 years.

vokoban on August 15, 2007 at 11:18 am

Just one more….

(June 6, 1928)
On Third street, downtown, they want westerns. If they get society pictures it is only to be expected that business will fall off. This, according to R.D. Rawson and John Hostetter, explains why Don Thornburg did not make $400 a week out of the Rex Theater they sold him for $20,000. His suit against them to get his money back went to trial before Judge Willis yesterday. Thornberg related that he was living peacefully in Iowa when the defendants persuaded him to buy the theather at 827 West Third street. They say he did not make good because he showed the wrong kind of films. The case may be decided today.

vokoban on August 15, 2007 at 11:06 am

And an address confirmation:

(May 30, 1931)
REX THEATRE, 827 West Third Street, near Figueroa

vokoban on August 15, 2007 at 11:03 am

I can’t find a page for the Rex Theater for Los Angeles. Maybe it had another name. Here’s the address:

(Jan. 23, 1928)
A film fire in the projection room of the Rex Theater at 827 West Third street late yesterday afternoon sent a small number of spectators rushing into the street. No one was injured. Police reported the only damage was to the film.

vokoban on August 15, 2007 at 10:39 am

I re-checked that article from above and I misspelled the name. It should have been the ‘Rex Theater, Third and Figueroa streets’.

MagicLantern on August 15, 2007 at 2:59 am

The question remains: per vokoban’s first post, what and where was the Res Theatre?

vokoban on June 21, 2007 at 12:03 am

That picture is great. It is definitely a vacant lot now but the building to the far left of the picture that you can barely see is being restored or something.