October 27, 2012

Photo Essay: Last Chance Look at The Tower Theatre (Lobby, House & Balcony)

Last updated 4/30/18 8:22 PM PT

The Tower Theatre is a bit of a curiosity on the strip of historic theaters along Broadway in Downtown LA.

circa 2018

It was built on a very small, corner plot of land, and its namesake tower rises high above a strip of retail businesses.

circa 2018

It's clearly run down (as many of them are).

circa 2018

It's tough to get inside (as many of them are).

This week, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation (of which I am a proud member) invited me to visit the inside of the Tower Theatre twice, as a last chance before this former vaudeville-cum-movie theater gets reborn as a concert venue (as the nearby Orpheum has).

The architects and developers responsible for building the Tower made sure that its small size did not render the venue short on opulence, modeling its design after the style of a Paris opera house, with plenty of French Renaissance and Beaux Arts elements, from its grand staircase... its dangling chandelier...

...hung across a stained glass window situated high above the marquee...

...casting a warm glow over the entryway.

In the back of the house...

...ceiling lights illuminate where there once were murals...

...and ornate carvings adorn the standee rail...

...where audiences with cheaper tickets and crying babies could watch the show from behind a glass partition.

As embellished as the interior of the theater looks, plenty of ceiling murals have been painted over in one of the many renovations that the theater went through over the years—paint now peeling, or covered by years of dirt, soot, nicotine and tar.

Two singers' boxes flank the tiny stage...

...which was actually enlarged and extended for one of the many film productions that have utilized the theater for a shooting location.

All the seats on the floor were removed in 1988...

...but they still remain anchored to the balcony floor...

...where there are two levels of seating and even a cry room way up in the back.

Watch your step getting up there in the dark.

During Monday's walk-through and today's tour...

...we had basically unrestricted access to the entire building, top to bottom.

Stay tuned for glimpses into the projection booth, backstage, downstairs lounge, and basement.

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