La Habra Theater

159 E. La Habra Boulevard,
La Habra, CA 90631

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Garden Theater

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According to La Habra Star news archives, the Garden Theater opened on October 1, 1919 as a combination film and vaudevillian house, complete with a stage, orchestra pit, and dressing rooms. Its opening attraction was Tom Mix in “Rough Riding Romance” which was to be shown with Simplex projectors on a nitro-silver screen. Vaudeville was to be supplied by the Orpheum and Pantages circuits. The theatre, which was built by Ed De Gray and managed by I.L. Yost, opened to a capacity crowd with admission prices of 11c for children, 22c for adults, and 28c for loges.

From at least the early-1940’s until the time it dropped out of the listing around the mid-1950’s, it was called the La Habra Theater, however in 1956 a new La Habra Theater opened on Whittier Boulevard.

The old La Habra Theater was demolished in the mid-1960s and its location on Central Avenue (now La Habra Boulevard) would have placed it in front of the civic center and across the street from where Richard Nixon opened his first law office.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

jeffdonaldson on December 27, 2007 at 1:40 am

The theatre wasn’t across the street from Nixon’s first law office because they were both on the north side of the street. The theatre was in the next block to the east. The theatre managed to hang around for about thirty-five years. Esther Cramer’s history of La Habra has one sentence about the theatre: “The opening of the Garden theatre, complete with orchestra, high class vaudeville acts, and films (featuring such stars as Tom Mix and comedian Harold Lloyd), attracted visitors from miles around.” The building had the theatre entrance with box office in the center and space for a small business on either side. When I went there in the early fifties, there was a sandwich shop on one side and a dry cleaners on the other. Inside, there was still a small stage up front. Pictures changed twice a week, and for us kids, on Saturday morning, we got seven cartoons, two serials and a feature (usually a western) for 17 cents! If you had another dime, you could get a bag of popcorn or pull your fillings out with a box of Jujubees. I was about 10 and I made friends with the teenage projectionist who showed me the booth. To enter the projection booth, you had to climb up a wooden ladder that was nailed to the back wall. At the top, you swung your leg out into the booth. The film cans were hauled up into the booth with a pulley. Our theatre closed in 1954 or early 1955 but no one told us why. There was some talk about drugs being delt there. All we knew was that for the next two years we had to get our parents to take us to the Fox Fullerton until the new theatre opened up on Whittier Blvd.

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