Washington Theatre

845 E. Washington Boulevard,
Pasadena, CA 91104

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox West Coast Theatres

Architects: Clarence L. Jay, Henry M. Patterson

Styles: Spanish Colonial

Previous Names: Century 21, Cinema 21

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News About This Theater

Washington Theatre exterior

The Washington Theatre was opened in 1925 with Clara Bow in “Eve’s Lover”. It was operated by Fox West Coast Theatres for years. It was renamed Century 21 on March 6, 1968 and from December 29, 1977 it went over to screening Spanish language movies. Finally screening adult films until closing in 1990.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 54 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm

The claim in the opening paragraph of the Pasadena Star-News item quoted by DB above that the Washington was “…the Southland’s first multi-use project….” is odd considering that multi-use buildings were commonplace in cities everywhere (including Southern California) long before 1924 and only became rare after priggish zoning laws began restricting them (which was not long after the Washington was built.)

Even more disturbing is the later revelation that the writer got this odd misconception from the director of Pasadena Heritage. One would expect the head of an organization devoted to historic preservation to have more knowledge of urban history.

Kids these days! And get off my lawn! </cranky old guy rant>

Timetraveler on April 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Please see here for an update on the Washington Theatre and be sure to see the comments which also have quotes from recent and archival articles about the theater’s redevelopment.

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kencmcintyre on April 12, 2011 at 5:47 pm

This one is still listed as renovating? Last item was a year ago.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on August 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

marion142 on August 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Chuck1231, If this had been listed as Cinema 21 I wouldn’t have looked at it and would have wondered why the Washington Theater wasn’t listed. My friends and I used to like that theater because admittance was half the price of the fancier theaters. We saw a lot of movies there that we would not have otherwise been able to see.

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 7:27 pm

“The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, page 628, lists a “Pasadena Theatre” in Pasadena, California, as having a three manual Smith theatre pipe organ.

No other details, such as # of ranks or installation date, are given.

I could not find a “Pasadena Theatre” listed on this site right now (April 2014) but the “Pasadena Photoplay Theatre” (listed on its own page) has a fairly close name. However, according to Lost Memory, this “Pasadena Photoplay Theatre” apparently had only about 350 seats, and most three-manual theatre organs had at least ten ranks.

The largest known Smith organs were both 4 manuals and 16 ranks, so that this organ in question was probably between 10 and 14 ranks, or so.

That is quite large for a little 350-seat theatre, since most theatres of this size either had a photoplayer (such as those made by American Photo Player Co, or Wurlitzer) or simply a person playing the piano, or, if an organ, nothing larger than about six or seven ranks (and thus, two manuals). Thus, I think it is unlikely that the “Pasadena Photoplay Theatre” is the same theatre mentioned in the book.

Does anybody know more about this instrument, or a larger “Pasadena Theatre?” in Pasadena?


NOTE: I think that the Washington Theatre is about the right size to have had such an organ, so is a possible candidate for the actual place of installation of this organ, and I’m putting this here for the time being until proven otherwise.

DavidZornig on August 25, 2016 at 4:10 pm

1940 photo added courtesy of William Haupt III‎.

rivest266 on October 30, 2019 at 3:31 pm

This reopened as the Century 21 on March 6th, 1968. Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266 on March 14, 2021 at 12:22 pm

La política en español comenzó el 29 de diciembre de 1977. Se publicó un anuncio de inauguración.

dallasmovietheaters on June 3, 2021 at 8:25 pm

Launched May 15, 1925 with “Eve’s Lover” and the entire cast in person including Clara Bow.

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