110 S. Main Street,
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Previously operated by: Orpheum Circuit
Firms: Keysor & Morgan
Previous Names: Childs' Opera House, Grand Opera House, Orpheum Theater, Teatro Mexico, Grand International Theatre
It is likely that few now living have any memory of this long-vanished theater. Opened in 1884, as Childs' Opera House, this theater was at the time the largest yet built in the growing city of Los Angeles. It was built by local entrepreneur and real estate man Ozro W. Childs, one of the city’s most successful developers.
The building was typical of large theaters in the late 19th century, designed in an eclectic Victorian style combining elements of Classicism, the Gothic, and "artistic" decoration, and all the modern conveniences, including gas lights. The auditorium featured a good-sized balcony, and side boxes, and the lobby and lounges were appointed in the latest fashions as dictated by the larger cities of the east.
Operas, plays, and musical performers all appeared on the stage of the Grand, including, in 1887, the famous Edwin Booth. However, perhaps the most significant fact of the theater’s history for Angelenos is that, in December of 1894, it became the first Los Angeles home of the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit. The Orpheum’s performers trod the boards of the Grand until 1903, when the circuit moved its local operations to the former Los Angeles Theater on Spring Street.
As the theater district of Los Angeles shifted south and west, and larger, more modern theaters such as the Burbank, the Hippodrome and, in 1905, the new Mason Opera House on Broadway opened, the fortunes of the Grand Theater declined. By 1910, it had become a movie house, and by 1920, second run movies were being shown for an admission price of ten cents.
In its later years, the Grand Theater found some success with programs of Spanish language movies and presented popular Mexican vaudeville acts for the growing Spanish speaking population of the city. But, as the prosperous 1920’s faded into the deepening depression of the 1930’s, the old house once again fell on hard times. In 1936 it was operating as the Grand International Theatre screening foreign movies and the long and varied career of the Grand Theater came to an end, and shortly after being closed, the theater was demolished.
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