Meralta Theatre

10912 Downey Avenue,
Downey, CA 90241

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Brad Smith
Brad Smith on January 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

This photograph of the Castle Theatre was taken by George Mann in 1926.

Gonzo_Greg on July 27, 2012 at 4:57 am

Saw a lot of films there when I while I was matriculating through Warren High School as a VERY fat GUY…which I WAS, back in the ‘60s.

It was a great refuge for a lonely kid. They should never have closed it.

drb on April 12, 2010 at 8:28 am

Here’s another completely different look for the Meralta:
View link

richjr37 on February 14, 2009 at 10:01 am

Growing up in nearby Cudahy,i saw many movies here.

Before moving to Texas with my parents in 1977,the last thing i remember seeing here was “Silver Streak” on a double bill with “Phantom of the Paradise” in ‘76.

This was the place to see Disney movies,as well

mr3d on November 14, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Different but same result. I have two Viewsonic’s that PERSIST so far permanently. Newest models (past two or so years) don’t seem to have the issue.

mr3d on November 14, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Some LCD’s DO need a saver as they can “burn.” :o)

kencmcintyre on November 14, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I put the 3/14/08 photo on my desktop as a screensaver. That marquee looks fantastic.

mr3d on November 14, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Great stuff. I started working at the Meralta/Avenue in 1964. The manager was Frank Kovilets (spelling wrong, I’m sure). I lived three blocks away, and had the “fun” of changing the marquees, hauling the prints upstairs to the projection booth, etc. But I’d tended to hang out in the booth and hear tales of the silent days from the old projectionist. That experience helped lay the foundation for my working in the film biz.

kencmcintyre on March 14, 2008 at 5:56 pm

That’s a great photo. Thanks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 22, 2007 at 10:38 pm

Two eras of the Meralta, from Flickr user The Downey Conservancy:

A very early photo of the original, 1925 design by architect Evan Jones in a Spanish Colonial style, handsomely executed in what appears to be brick and terra cotta.

A c1950 photo of the facade as remodeled in a restrained, art modern style by architect Clarence Smale. Smale’s 1940s remodel was so good that I can almost forgive its destruction of Jones’s delightful Spanish fantasy.

Sadly, both are landfill now.

William on July 26, 2007 at 8:11 am

The Santa Monica School District had two schools that started with M, their Madison Elementary and McKinley Elementary. The former Madison Elementary (11th. Street and Arizona) is used a satellite campus since 1990 for Santa Monica College. The type of seat you posted sounds like a school auditorium type seat. The Madison school was a older school location in that district. The seats at John Adams middle school only have padding on the bottom, not the back. The seats in the Barnum Hall at Santa Monica High School (Samohi) are fully padded theatre type seats.

William on July 26, 2007 at 7:35 am

The problem of them being from the Million Dollar Theatre is the Million Dollar Theatre was a Deluxe type theatre when it opened. So the line you wrote “made of only wood without any padding” would not make it from the Million Dollar. Because those Deluxe houses: (Million Dollar, Los Angeles, Orpheum, State, UA, Warner, etc.) , all had nice fancy seats in their day. If it came from the Santa Monica School District it could have come from their school called Madison.

Gary2007 on July 25, 2007 at 9:57 pm

I have two theater seats made by Heywood-Wakefield with the letter “M” on each of the outter sides of the framing. They are complete and made of only wood without any padding. They were last used in the Santa Monica school district. Below the letter there is a small urn or vase. Were these seats from that theater? Or possibly another theater in the Los Angeles theater like the Million Dollar Theater. Thank you for your imput.

kencmcintyre on July 6, 2007 at 8:16 pm

The LA Times reported the demolition of the Meralta on 12/31/78. However, the address was given as 10912 S. Downey Avenue.

Harold on January 8, 2007 at 8:05 am

Steve and Kandy – Please contact me at – for more info on Meralta

stevetidwell on October 19, 2006 at 11:51 am

I remember the Meralta and Avenue theater from when I was a kid growing up near downey. Later I got to know the manager, Harold Taylor, who would comp us on admission from time to time. I can still remember when it only cast $1.00 to get in, then after the remodel the management raised the price to $2.00 to keep the riff-raff out; oh the good ol days. If you ever hear from Harold Taylor tell him Steve and Kandy said hello.

Harold on August 24, 2005 at 11:42 am

I worked for Cummings Theatres in management for five years – and YES! the Meralta was a real gem. We did another re-model in the 1970’s in an attempt to keep it alive and current – just cosmetic – nothing major, but it was a family theatre – and when the trend toward R rated films came – the old Meralta fell out of favor. We then operated the Avenue, the next block down as a place for R and adult themed films. But even that policy didn’t work. Upon the death of Mr. Cummings (a real showman from the glory days) it seemed the life was gone from the old theatre. I have many memories of the great years – my favorite was the HUGE line around the block for “A Hard Days Night” starring The Beatles. The kids really flocked to see it. And to answer a previous question – the Meralta was where we had the Summer Kiddie Matinees – three shows a day filling all 800 seats each show. WOW, what a great time we had.
Cummings also operated the Avenue in Downey and the Norwalk theatre on Firestone in Norwalk – also gone. As well as a drive-in – also gone. Harold Taylor

William on April 7, 2005 at 9:46 am

During the early half of 1961, the Meralta Theatre went through it’s second remodeling since 1949. Cummmings Theatres, Inc. spent reported $100,000 on the remodeling of the theatre tobe part of a shopping center devoloped by Evert R. Cummings. The center is called Meralta Square. It will have parking for 400 cars. The theatre will seat 853 people.
The theatre now presents a cascade of striking architecture with Travertine marble to the height of the marqueem and an upper face of Aluminaur antique gold decking and porcelain with tiers of rhombic forms, The box office is intergated into the marble cource, its windowin a gold colored anodized metal frame. The foyer beginning immediately inside glass entrance doors, has walls of vinal fabric, a ceiling of off-white acoustic tile. At the entrance to auditorium aisles are pre-finished cherry pannels and black ebony fins. A large snack bar is on the right side of the foyer. Deep-pile carpeting is used throughout the new Meralta. The auditorium is seated with Heywood-Wakefield padded-back chairs, except the loge, where rocking chair models are used. Walls of the auditorium are finished in Limpett acoustical material, which is decorated in deep tones of coral and bleached gold. The dado is painted charcoal gray. Screen drapery includes a cascade curtain of hammered satin in a peanut color. The New Meralta features a family room where parents with small children may view the picture without disturbing others and a smoking room. The architect for the remodel was Clarence N. Smale.

tracyluis on February 16, 2005 at 3:59 pm

Does anyone know if it was The Avenue Theater or the Meralta that had the summer matinee program for kids in the 1970’s. The parents paid one price for the kids to go to the matinee all summer. I think it was The Avenue and my brother thinks it was The Meralta.

retrocool on January 3, 2005 at 7:59 pm

I remember back in the 80’s when they demolished the theatre. My dad took me and my brother by to see it. The huge 50’s neon sign was torn off and you could see all the beautiful brickwork from the 20’s. A few days later my dad took us by again and it was all bashed in. What a waste.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 22, 2004 at 12:09 am

Southwest Builder and Contractor, issue of 5/15/1925, says that architect Evan Jones, 5158 Hollywood Boulevard, had prepared plans for a 2 story, class C theater and shops to be built on North Crawford Avenue in Downey, between 3rd and 4th Streets. The owner of the theater was Mrs. Ada B. Adams, and the theater was to be leased to Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta of Culver City.

Crawford Avenue was later renamed Downey Avenue. The discrepancy in address is accounted for by the fact that Downey has used both a local street numbering system and the Los Angles County street numbering system at different times. Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta also operated the Meralta Theatre in Culver City. The names of the theatres were derived from the combination of their surnames.

kd6dkc on July 15, 2004 at 3:06 pm

The Meralta was quite upscale for a neighborhood theater. I was very impressed with the rocking loge seats and the viewing window where you could see the film away from the seated area. I first “discovered” the Meralta when one of my friends from South Gate was hired there as an usherette in the late 1950s. My future wife and I had our first date at the Meralta, watching “Cry for Happy,” in early 1961.