Monterey Theatre

619 N. Garfield Avenue,
Monterey Park, CA 91754

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Edwards Cinemas

Architects: Leonard L. Jones

Previous Names: Mission Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Screen capture from the movie

Originally opened in 1924 as the Mission Theatre and closed as a silent movie theatre in early-1930. It was taken over by 24 years old James Edwards on October 9, 1930 having been wired for sound and reopening as the Monterey Theatre with Ben Lyon in “Hells Angels”. This was the first theatre in what would become the Edwards Cinemas chain. The theatre appears in the Ed Wood film “Jail Bait”, and though the marquee is not visible, its interior is. In the early-1950’s it was still operated by the Edwards Cinemas circuit which ran it until around 1980.

In its last years, it was showing Chinese language movies. The Monterey Theatre has since been demolished.

Contributed by Joe Vogel, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

kencmcintyre on November 12, 2005 at 5:06 pm

If it’s not here under another name, the Montez Theater in Grass Valley would immediately follow the Monterey. The photo is from the Pomona Public Library:

View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 12, 2005 at 5:43 pm

The only Grass Valley theatre currently listed at Cinema Treasures is the Del Oro. It is located on Mill Street, and the caption of your picture indicates that the Montez was on West Main Street, so they must not be the same theatre.

kencmcintyre on November 15, 2005 at 9:08 am

The recent picture of the Del Oro on that page would support your argument.

Dublinboyo on October 24, 2007 at 3:50 pm

This is something that has been bothering me for years. Years and years ago when Edwards ran their cinema empire in the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County I used to go to the Big Newport Cinema at the Newport Fashion Island – you know the place; Edwards Flagship theater – to see all the great new films that played there. In their lobby I remember there was an old advertisement from the 1930’s that heralded the opening of a new Edwards theater and I think it was called the “Apex” or something similar in Monterey Park. I seem to recall that it gave the same address as the old Monterey theater in Monterey Park. I always wonedered if the Monterey went under this name or where this theater was located (the Apex). I have not been back to the Big Newport for 25 years, so I do not know if this artifact is still on display in their lobby – especially since the Edwards theater chain is now defunct. The Monterey was very much my neighbourhood theater. Being a latch key kid I used to ride my Schwinn Stingray to the theatre for their Saturday matinees starting in 1967 at the tender age of 7. The Monterey’s employees kinda adopted me and watched my bike and used to let me in for some rather dicey films – including “The Fox” and “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” I had no idea what the hell I was watching and this was before the whole Motion Pictures rating thing in 1968 – remember those? “G' for General, "M” for Mature, “R” for Restricted and “X' for Adults only. This was when society had not become so prudish and "X” did not mean porn or “adult” films – but films like Midnight Cowboy and A Clockwork Orange. Hard to believe. Joe Vogel’s comments are spot on about The Monterey, though I was there in the last years before it became a product of Chinese programming in the early 80’s. But I have tremendous affection for the place. There used to be an A&P market next door before they creamed it and built a Shell station. I wish I could find a photo of it around 1969 when it still had the refurbished old marquee with the neon. The theater remains fondly in my heart these 40 years later and it was the first place that I learned the magic of film.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 25, 2007 at 6:24 am

Dublinboyo: I’m going to make a wild guess that the vintage ad you saw on display at the Big Newport might have announced the 1940 opening of the Annex, which was an early name of the small theatre in what came to be known as the Alhambra Twin Cinemas on Main Street at Atlantic in Alhambra.

A second possibility is that the ad featured plans for a theatre which Edwards wanted to build in Monterey Park in 1939, but which were never carried out.

As far as I know, the Mission/Monterey was the only indoor theatre in Monterey Park until Edwards built its replacement, the Monterey Mall triplex on Atlantic Boulevard, in the 1970s.

Dublinboyo on December 17, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Anybody have photos of the Monterey Theater from after the remodel that included the larger neon marquee? I’d love to see it and recall my youth at this theater.

And thank you Joe Vogel for your comments and complete and thorough knowledge of the local and surrounding theaters. I am always amazed at how much you know and recall from your time growing up in the area.

And as for The Monterey Mall Cinemas on Atlantic Ave? I drove down Atlantic yesterday in front of the old site and the whole shoppping mall and buildings – including the old Monterey Mall theaters – have been razed and reduced to a smoking crater. So, what again will rise from the site of the theater I wonder?

R.I.P Monterey Mall Cinemas – 1979 to 2007

Dublinboyo on May 21, 2009 at 10:46 am

Yes, I can vouch for these photos as they are, in fact, the Monterey Theater shortly before it was demolished and after it was turned over to exclusive Chinese programing. The theater lasted about 3 years as a Chinese run theater. Today the site is a parking lot for the Garfield Medical Center.

MagicLantern on June 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Yet another parking lot.

Berndog on April 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

The Monterey Theatre meant a lot to me growing up in the early 70’s in Monterey Park. I remember riding my bike here to watch Saturday matinees. I also will never forget my dad taking me to see JAWS here when it first opened. I distinctly remember waiting in line with a bunch of other people. It was really exciting. And I remember seeing the faces of the people exiting the theatre who had just seen the film. We don’t think twice nowadays about waiting in line with throngs of people to see the last HARRY POTTER or THE AVENGERS or the final installment of the LORD OF THE RINGS. But back in the 70’s it was a really unique experience to be a part of a cinematic event so huge. Everyone was talking about that one movie. It was quite literally historic. It’s ironic, because I didn’t know it then, but the phenomenon that was JAWS ushered in the beginning of the “blockbuster movie release”, and is a big reason why a stand-alone theatre like the Monterey no longer exists. Regardless, the Monterey was my “cinematic church” growing up and I had a lot of fond memories watching movies there.

Dublinboyo on December 5, 2014 at 11:57 am

@Berndog. Great post and I, like you, grew up in Monterey Park and rode my Schwinn Stingray to the theater for Saturday matinees and have many fond memories of seeing many great films there in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I wonder what part of Monterey Park you grew up in? I lived over by the Midwick tract, off of West Garvey Ave.

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