Princess Theatre

215 Main Street,
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

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Huntington Beach was incorporated on February 17, 1909, and six years later on April 2, 1915, William Harrison opened his Princess Theatre with admission set at .05 and .10 cents. The Huntington Beach News said: “The dedication of the new Princess theatre will be of more importance than any other event since the pier was dedicated a year ago.” The first presentation was “The Spoilers” of which the Princess' ad said: “It is one of the more notable film plays and has only been seen in the larger cities and ran for four solid weeks in Los Angeles.” The Huntington Beach News commented that they were taken by surprise when they reported on June 14, 1915, that Harrison, a respected entrepreneur, had already sold his theatre to Mrs. Francis F. Nelsen.

Sometime around 1924, with Huntington Beach in the midst of an oil boom, J. Cleve Scott bought the theatre and installed Jack Donough as manager. Scott, a respected banker, among his endeavors, owned some other theatres in Long Beach. On May 25, 1925, Scott opened his new Scott’s theatre (later renamed the Roxie and then the Surf) on Fifth Street and Donough moved over as manager. After the opening of Scott’s theatre, the Princess disappeared from the Huntington Beach News and opened from time to time or on a limited basis for community events (one mention was that a Studebaker dealer was going show a film of the new models in the Princess).

A 1925 Orange County directory lists an Empress theatre at 207 Main Street but it is not known if it was a renamed Princess as no show ads for it appeared in the H.B News. Today a modern commercial building occupies the old theatre address on Main Street in downtown Surf City.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm

The L.A. Library’s California Index contains several cards citing articles about theaters in Huntington Beach, but most of them are puzzling. Most of the cards have no theater names attached, and it seems likely that several of the projects mentioned were never carried out.

One card does indicate that there had been a movie house operating in Huntington Beach before the Princess was opened, though. It cites a Southwest Builder & Contractor item of April 18, 1914. Here’s a link to the card. From the bit about the lease expiring, it sounds like it might have been a storefront nickelodeon.

MagicLantern on June 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Now at Noka Oi restaurant at this address.

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