Valley Theatre

10818 Main Street,
El Monte, CA 91731

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Edwards Cinemas

Architects: Percy A. Eisen, A. R. Walker

Firms: Walker & Eisen

Previous Names: Rialto Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Opened in 1923 as the Rialto Theatre, this theatre was built for local developer Walter P. Temple, and was designed by Walker & Eisen, the same firm which designed for Mr. Temple the Temple Theatre (later El Rey Theatre) in nearby Alhambra.

For sixteen years, the Rialto Theatre was operated by Arthur Sanborn, who in 1939 built the El Monte Theatre. In 1940, the Rialto Theatre was sold to James Edwards, and was thereafter part of his theatre circuit until it closed sometime in the early-1950’s.

Contributed by Joe Vogel, William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

kencmcintyre on January 13, 2008 at 5:29 pm

The photo caption says Main Street, but that’s probably some misinformation:

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on March 10, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Does anybody know if this theatre is standing or if it’s been demolished? Based on the name change of the street metioned on the El Monte’s page, this theatre would have been six blocks west of the El Monte.

BillCounter on March 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm

It looks like Main Street became Valley Blvd. in El Monte in the early 30s. In the 1925 Alhambra city directory the address for the Rialto is 326 W. Main — as it is through 1932.

Sometime before the 1935 directory it got changed to Valley Blvd.

Another note: In the 1923 directory there’s a listing for the El Monte Theatre, 331 W. Main, El Monte.

A mistake? Another building? Another name for this one?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 31, 2011 at 1:24 am

It appears that El Monte’s old numbering system began at Tyler Avenue, the main north-south street, and as Sanborn’s El Monte Theatre was at the historic address 110 E. Valley, and it was in the first block east of Tyler, that means the addresses must have started with three digit numbers rather than single digit numbers. That would put the Valley Theatre somewhere about three blocks west of Tyler (the cross streets are spaced irregularly.)

Examining that neighborhood with Google Maps' satellite view reveals that there is a building at 10818 Valley Mall, between Palm Court and Lexington Avenue, which has a rear section that is taller than the rest of the building. This section could have been an auditorium. Street View shows that the building has a three-bay facade, with the center bay somewhat taller than the side bays. The center bay was probably the entrance to the theater. The building was modernized sometime after the photo Ken linked to was taken.

Adjacent buildings as seen in Street View have also been remodeled, but their sizes are perfect matches for the nearby buildings seen in the historic photo. I’m 99% certain that the building at 10818 Valley Mall, with its center bay currently occupied by a clothing store called Eden Fashion, is the former Rialto/Valley Theatre.

The property records section of the L.A. County Assessor’s office web site is currently down, so I can’t check the construction date of the building, but when it comes back I’ll check it again. If the original construction date of this building was 1923, I’d consider that sufficient proof that it was the Rialto.

As for the El Monte Theatre at 331 W. Main, it would have been across the street from the Rialto and a bit west. In the absence of any historic photos of it, it would be hard to determine which building it occupied, what its modern address would be, or if the building is still standing.

BillCounter on May 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Thanks, Joe! Nice detective work.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I’ve checked the County Assessor’s web site, and it says that the building at this address was built in 1932, with an effectively-built date of 1933. This might be one of the cases in which the early property records have been lost, and the build date given is only the earliest record on file. Several nearby buildings also have effectively-built dates of 1933 or 1934, and I suspect that this reflects repairs that had to be made to the structures following the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, which did considerable damage in parts of the San Gabriel Valley, especially in areas such as El Monte, situated on soft alluvial soil near the rivers.

Despite the 1932 build date, I’m still 99% certain that this is the building that once house the Rialto/Valley Theatre, and the current address of the storefront that once served as the theater’s entrance is 10818 Valley Mall.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 16, 2012 at 2:11 am

Thanks to RonP for uploading the current photos of the Valley Theatre’s building. The brickwork on the back wall is certainly characteristic of the 1920s rather than the 1930s, providing more evidence that this is probably the original structure from 1923.

The page still needs to be updated with the building’s modern address, 10818 Valley Mall, to note that it has not been demolished, and to credit Walker & Eisen as the architects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 3, 2021 at 5:40 pm

Valley Mall has reverted to its historic name Main Street. Address numbers are unchanged.

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