San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

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San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is a historic performing arts venue located in the Mission District of the city of San Gabriel, California.


The Playhouse was constructed between 1923 and 1927 for John Steven McGroarty’s hugely successful Mission Play.[1][2][3][4] The Mission Playhouse’s architect was Arthur Burnett Benton who designed the Playhouse in the Mission Revival style.[5] The façade was designed to resemble McGroarty’s favorite mission, San Antonio de Padua in Monterey County. The 1,387 seat theater has Native American influences in its painted and carved ceiling. Replicas of Spanish lanterns used aboard galleons in the 1800s hang from the ceiling. Woven tapestries that were a gift from King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1927 adorn the sides of the theater. The theater is home to a fully restored 1924 Wurlitzer pipe organ originally built for the Albee Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.[6]

After the run of The Mission Play, the Mission Playhouse was used as a movie theatre. During WWII, the Playhouse dressing rooms were turned into apartments. Since 1945, the Playhouse has been owned and operated by the City of San Gabriel. When the City purchased the Playhouse, they renamed it the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. On September 26, 2007, the theatre was renamed and once again called the Mission Playhouse.[7]

The Playhouse has been used as a film location for various TV series and movies such as The Love Boat and Remington Steele. Throughout the years, many notable names have graced the Playhouse stage including B.B. King, Pierce Brosnan, Ricardo Montalban, Florence Henderson, Tony Plana, and Tony Bennett.[8]


  1. ^ Judson Grenier; Doyce Blackman Nunis; Jean Bruce Poole (1978). A Guide to Historic Places in Los Angeles County. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8403-7501-8. Originally called the Mission Playhouse, this city-owned auditorium was designed especially for John Steven McGroarty's Mission Play.
  2. ^ Richard J. Arnold (2013). San Gabriel. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 125–127. ISBN 978-1-4671-3061-5.
  3. ^ County of Los Angeles Public Library,, "San Gabriel Frequently Asked Questions", 2012
  4. ^ Estes, John,, "San Gabriel Mission Playhouse Tour",May 6, 2012
  5. ^ Fisher, Charles,, "Arthur B. Benton"
  6. ^ Linton, Donn, Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society,, "San Gabriel Mission Playhouse Wurlitzer", 2012
  7. ^ San Gabriel Mission Playhouse,, "History of the Playhouse", 2012
  8. ^ San Gabriel Mission Playhouse,, 2012

Coordinates: 34°05′54″N 118°06′30″W / 34.09837°N 118.10829°W / 34.09837; -118.10829