25 February 2012

Theatres of 2011 - Part 4

For theatres 7 and 8 of the 2011 retrospective I'll be profiling two heavily contrasting locations, different in origin, lifespan, distance, and design -- East Los Angeles' Golden Gate and the Star Theatre in Oceanside.

If this is your first time here, welcome. I love vintage movie houses. Every year for the past 4 years I've sought out and photographed as many "new" (by this I mean new to me, locations I hadn't personally been to before) theatres as I could. At the end of each previous year, I would compile a list with links to the images. For 2011's list, I'm sharing them two-at-a-time via this blog, with some history and extra whateveredness included. 

 If you're interested, previous years' collections are on view via Flickr:

Let's get started...
 The Golden Gate Theatre in East Los Angeles is located at 5176 Whittier Blvd., just south of the I-60. This majestic art deco theatre opened in 1927 and closed in 1986 (the dark days of the '80s strike again). Once surrounded by retail buildings that were razed after the Whittier Narrows earthquake of 1987 -- taking the theatre's marquee and blade signs with them -- the Golden Gate has been abandoned since then, lonely in the middle of a paved over plot of land on a corner of town that is easily forgotten. There has been talk for many years of the theatre building being transformed to house a Walgreens or CVS pharmacy, even though the building has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1982. Preservationists such as The Los Angeles Historic Theatres Foundation are working to prevent something horrific (perhaps more horrific than allowing the building to sit and decay for over 20 years) from happening to the Golden Gate. There are a couple other theatres in this area that I photographed and will revisit later, though none are as precious in either history or architecture of the Golden Gate.

Golden Gate Theatre, 2011 © Monika Seitz Vega

And now for something completely different, the Star. Located on Pacific Coast Highway in Oceanside, CA, the Star opened in 1956 and has maintained more or less in one variation or another -- church, movie house, Pussycat theatre, live venue -- since. It's a cute corner theatre which originally held just under 1,000 patrons (about 2/3 the capacity of the Golden Gate). In the late 1990s the theatre was vacant, I remember passing by it countless times on my Vespa journeys from San Diego to Orange County and back, the bright yellow marquee blank, until one day it wasn't anymore (if memory serves, I believe a Van Halen tribute band was passing through town and was going to rock the Star). The stars and the marquee are wonderfully colorful and stand out amongst the other buildings in downtown Oceanside. 

Spending the day in Oceanside allowed for both daytime and nighttime visits to the Star. Here is a half-frame image of the marquee detail.

Star Theatre, 2011 © Monika Seitz Vega

For the nighttime photograph, I took a long exposure from the corner to the south with a little help from the street lamp to illuminate the front of the building.

Star Theatre, 2011 © Monika Seitz Vega

I'm not quite sure where Part 5 will take us yet, but we'll get there soon. Until then...


Andrew Clark said...

Hazaa! My favorite parts are the whateveredness (in this case the Van Halen Tribute band). Also, I have a framed close-up of the Star Marquee on my wall courtesy of MJSV(SHM) herself!

Monika Seitz Vega said...

I realized as I was writing this that I have several color, daytime photographs of the Star that I took earlier this same day and somehow forgot about. Not to mention the image you mentioned.

There will be more whateveredness in the future, guaranteed.