Barbara Theatre

151 E. Martin Luther King Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90011

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Pictorial Theatre, Woodlawn Theatre

Nearby Theaters

The Pictorial Theatre was located on Santa Barbara Avenue, which is now Martin Luther King Boulevard. It was opened in 1913. The theater was advertised in the LA Times in August 1924. It was later renamed Woodlawn Theatre, and by 1942 it had become the Barbara Theatre. It was still operating in 1955.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

kencmcintyre on February 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

There is one more Paramount ad in the LA Times, in September 1925, that mentions the Pictorial. After that it disappears, so it probably didn’t make it past the silent era. 151 E. MLK is a bit east of Main Street, about a block and a half.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2009 at 12:24 am

The Woodlawn Theatre was listed at 151 E. Santa Barbara Avenue in the 1915 City Directory.

kencmcintyre on February 10, 2009 at 12:36 am

This must be one of the very early theaters in LA, which is interesting as that part of downtown was almost in the suburbs back then.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2009 at 3:31 am

The city’s population topped 300,000 in the 1910 census, so the area around USC was pretty well built up by then. Some parts of the Woodlawn district were subdivided in the 1890s, and the neighborhood still has quite a few old houses dating from before 1910, and a few from before 1900. I’m not sure when the first streetcar line reached the area, but the Main Street and Agricultural Park Railway, a steam line, was built in 1875 and passed within a few blocks of this theater’s location. I think the line was later electrified, sometime in the 1890s.

Check the historic maps of Los Angeles linked on this page at the University of Texas web site. The 1900 and 1917 maps are especially revealing, as the city had about one hundred thousand people in 1900, and by 1920 had exceeded half a million. Growth was explosive around the time this theater was built.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 12, 2009 at 4:20 am

I’ve found a better map. It shows the streetcar lines in Los Angeles in 1906, and the area around the Pictorial is included. For anybody trying to pin down the locations of theaters when they are listed in early city directories or newspaper ads with old street names that have since been changed, this map can be very useful.

The map is called Red Cars and Yellow Cars, and is linked from this Library of Congress page. You can use the map online with a zoom feature, or download the whole thing in a 7.5MB jpeg file.

MagicLantern on July 7, 2010 at 1:24 am

Also known as the Barbara Theatre from at least 1942 through 1955.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2014 at 1:40 am

I think that the Woodlawn/Pictorial/Barbara Theatre was probably built in 1912, and was this project listed in the September 14 issue of Southwest Contractor & Manufacturer:

“BRICK THEATER—Fred E. Edmison, 5419 S. Vermont Ave., has secured a permit for a l-story brick store and theater building which he will erect at 147 E. Santa Barbara Ave. for himself. Cost $5000. Dimensions, 42x116 ft.”
I know the address doesn’t quite match up, but the lots on the north side of MLK Boulevard (former Santa Barbara Avenue) are nowhere near 116 feet deep, which means Mr. Edmison’s theater had to have had its long side on the boulevard, and would probably have covered addresses through 151. The building would have been at the northeast corner of MLK Boulevard and Wall Street, and the store would probably have been at the corner, at 147, putting the theater entrance farther east.

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