Tower Theater (Los Angeles)

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Tower Theater
Tower Theater (Los Angeles).jpg
Exterior of Los Angeles' Tower Theater, 2008
Location 800 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
Architect S. Charles Lee
Architectural style(s) Baroque Revival
Reference no. 450[1]

The Tower Theater, at 802 S. Broadway, is a historic movie theater that opened in 1927[2] in the Broadway Theater District of Downtown Los Angeles.


The Tower Theater, at S. Broadway and W. 8th Street, was commissioned by H.L. Gumbiner.[3] He would also build the Los Angeles Theatre in 1931.

The Tower was the first theater designed by architect S. Charles Lee.[2] Seating 900 on a tiny site, it was designed in powerful Baroque Revival style with innovative French, Spanish, Moorish, and Italian elements all executed in terra-cotta.[2] Its interior was modeled after the Paris Opera House.[3] Its exterior features a prominent clock tower, the very top of which was removed after an earthquake.

The Tower was the first filmhouse in Los Angeles to be wired for talking pictures, and it was the location of the sneak preview[4] and Los Angeles premiere[3] of Warner Bros.' revolutionary part-talking The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson.

The theater was the first in Los Angeles to be air conditioned.[3]

It opened in 1927 with the silent film The Gingham Girl starring Lois Wilson and George K. Arthur.[5]

For a while during the early 1950s, the name was changed to the Newsreel Theater.[6]

Use as a Hollywood filming location[edit]

The Tower Theater's exterior and/or interior can be seen in the following films:

Landmark status[edit]

The Tower Theater has been declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, HCM #450, by the Office of Historic Resources, Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles.[1]

Current use[edit]

As with many other historic theaters in Downtown Los Angeles, though largely intact, the theater was abandoned for many years because of migration of cinema attendance to Hollywood Boulevard and other Los Angeles locations. Over the years, its lobby has been leased to various vendors, and the auditorium has been used by the Living Faith Evangelical Church.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tower Theater, HCM #450, in Downtown Los Angeles". Office of Historic Resources, Dept. of Planning, City of Los Angeles. Retrieved October 8, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Lord, Rosemary (2002). Los Angeles: Then and Now. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 1-57145-794-1. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kaplan, Sam Hall (1989), L.A. Follies: A Critical Look at Growth Politics & Architecture, Santa Monica, CA: Cityscape Press, p. 199, ISBN 0-9622007-0-0 
  4. ^ a b "Tower Theatre Official Site". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  5. ^ "Tower Theatre". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  6. ^ Photo of Tower Theater, 1951, with "Newsreel" on marquee, USC Digital Library

External links[edit]