Hollywood Masonic Temple

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Hollywood Masonic Temple
Hollywood Masonic Temple.JPG
Hollywood Masonic Temple, 2008
Hollywood Masonic Temple is located in California
Hollywood Masonic Temple
Location 6840 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California
Coordinates 34°6′4.73″N 118°20′24.5″W / 34.1013139°N 118.340139°W / 34.1013139; -118.340139Coordinates: 34°6′4.73″N 118°20′24.5″W / 34.1013139°N 118.340139°W / 34.1013139; -118.340139
Built 1921
Architect Austin,John C.
Architectural style Classical Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 85000355
Significant dates
Added to NRHP 28 February 1985[2]
Designated LAHCM 12 June 1984[1]

Hollywood Masonic Temple, now known as the El Capitan Entertainment Centre, is a building on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The building, built in 1921, was designed by architect John C. Austin, also noted as the lead architect of the Griffith Observatory. The Masons operated the temple until 1982, when they sold the building after several years of declining membership. The building was then converted into a theater and nightclub, and ownership subsequently changed several times, until it was bought by the Walt Disney Company in 1998. Since 2003, the building's theater has been the home of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

The Masonic Temple[edit]

Hollywood Masonic Temple, 1922

In 1921, the Hollywood lodge of the Masons relocated from their existing lodge on the current site of the Dolby Theatre. The construction of the new three-story building was led by lodge master Charles E. Toberman, who was responsible for the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Max Factor Building. The original building cost $176,678, with a sum of $56,421 allotted to furniture and fixtures and $36,295 for the purchase of the lot.[3] When the new temple opened, it was one of the most substantial structures in Hollywood. It had a billiard room, pipe organ, ladies parlor, ballroom, and lodge rooms. One writer described the building as "unsurpassed for beauty, attractiveness and richness of equipment."[4] The architect, John C. Austin, also worked on the Shrine Auditorium, Griffith Observatory, and Los Angeles City Hall.

The Los Angeles Times described the building this way in 2002:

"It's an impassive presence that seems to transcend the ebb and flow of Tinseltown glamour — a somber Neoclassical temple that stands in stark contrast to the evolving parade of movers, shakers, panhandlers and paparazzi that have passed before it."[4]

The grand ballroom was opened in February 1923; the opening ball featured a program on “the evolution of dance” featuring dancer Lucille Means.[5] Many of Hollywood's elite over the years have been Masons, including Oliver Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, W.C. Fields, Cecil B. DeMille, D.W. Griffith, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.[4] Stories of a secret tunnel running from Grauman's Chinese Theater under Hollywood Boulevard to the Masonic Temple have been confirmed by current ABC employees (specifically employees of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show). However, the tunnel has been sealed off and cannot be accessed anymore. It's said that the tunnel served as a means of transporting illegal liquor to and from both establishments during prohibition.[4] This tunnel would have been demolished for the construction of the subway line under Hollywood Boulevard.

During the Great Depression, many of the Masons lost their savings, and the Masons were forced to rent the ground floor to a social club that installed an illegal slot machine.[3][4] After World War II, the Masons resumed full use of the structure, and in 1948, more than 300 people crowded into the Masonic Temple to attend a memorial service for D. W. Griffith.[6] In 1969, longtime Mason Harold Lloyd was honored in a ceremony as his name was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, directly in front of the Masonic Temple.[7]

Opera theater and nightclub[edit]

By the late 1970s, Masonic membership had declined, and the Masons rented out ground-floor space to a restaurant. By 1982, the Masons were no longer using the building, and Hollywood Boulevard was becoming an eyesore. The Masons sold the building to singer Rosita LaBello who converted the structure into the Hollywood Opera & Theater Company.[4]

The building's life with LaBello's opera and theater company was short-lived, and in 1987 the building was renovated and reopened with much fanfare as the Hollywood Live Entertainment Pavilions. Detroit developer, James Hoseyni in alliance with Los Angeles-based Iranian architect, Kamal Kamooneh and the support of Dr. Iraj Rafani, invested $1.5 million to convert the building into a versatile entertainment center including a cabaret, jazz club, and an 800-person dance club.[3] The lavish interiors of the original Blue and Red Halls were restored and adapted to accommodate a disc jockey's podium, special electronic and lighting equipment and bars.[3]

Renovation by Disney and Jimmy Kimmel Live![edit]

With the renovation of the El Capitan Theater next door in the early 1990s, Disney began leasing the building for special events, including its use as a "toy box" for the 1995 premiere of "Toy Story." In 1998, Disney purchased the building. In 2002, after extensive renovation, Disney reopened the building as the El Capitan Entertainment Centre. Disney restored original fixtures, including backlighted stone filigree, wrought iron torchieres, Batchelder tiles and old post boxes once used by Masonic officers.[4] As of 2015, ABC's late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! originates from a studio in the building.

See also[edit]

Media related to Hollywood Masonic Temple at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Los Angeles Department of City Planning (September 7, 2007). "Historic - Cultural Monuments (HCM) Listing: City Declared Monuments" (PDF). City of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d Evelyn DeWolfe (1987-09-06). "Hollywood Night Life Brightens Masonic Temple to Reopen as Entertainment Center". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Al Ridenour (2002-05-02). "A Chamber of Secrets; Hollywood's Masonic temple, witness to the passage of time, is restored and reborn as an entertainment venue". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ "Talented Dancer to Appear at Ball: Attractive Program Arranged for Hollywood Masonic Fete". Los Angeles Times. 1923-02-05. 
  6. ^ "D.W. Griffith Paid Tribute: Hollywood Honors Its Prophet During Memorial Services". Los Angeles Times. 1948-07-28. 
  7. ^ "Harold Lloyd Feted". Los Angeles Times. 1969-06-05.