December 13, 2013

Photo Essay: Old Town Music Hall (formerly The State Theater), El Segundo (Updated)

It's hard to ignore the Chevron oil refinery next door to Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo.

It's kind of hard to ignore it anywhere near El Segundo's Main Street or historic Richmond Street.

Originally opened as the State Theater in 1921 in one of Richmond Street's existing buildings, it was intended to be a live performance venue specifically for the employees of the neighboring Standard Oil Refinery, in what was then the original Downtown for the City of El Segundo.

Soon thereafter, it was upgraded to show movies, then closed in the 1930s, then reopened in 1944 as the El Segundo Theatre, then renamed the State Theater in 1957.

Ten years later, "The Two Bills" (Field and Coffman) rented the theater and installed the Mighty Wurlitzer 1925 pipe organ from the Fox Theater in Long Beach.

It was at this time that they reopened and began operating the State Theater as Old Town Music Hall (at some point changing the exterior paint job from white to green).

Old Town Music Hall now shows vintage silent films (accompanied by the Wurlitzer) as well as talkies and live concerts.

The lobby and auditorium are both small and intimate...

...the single screen theater's capacity capped at only 188.

Crystal chandeliers hang from the auditorium ceiling... a wash of rosy pink and red lighting.

Movie stars grin at the audience from the back of the house, under the projection booth.

Although Bill Coffman passed away in 2001, Bill Field still runs the place, operating it as a non-profit...

...and maintaining the Mighty Wurlitzer's 2600+ pipes behind the stage's velvet curtains.

Over time, he has even added some additional pipes...

[Ed: Photo added 11/9/15] well as a xylophone, marimba, piano, drums, and cymbals.

The organ console is an upgrade from the original (to handle the additional pipes)...

...and has four keyboards and 260 switches in addition to its various controls and pedals.

Bill Field still gets up on the bench of the Mighty Wurlitzer to play it...

...and those of us attending the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation's annual members meeting were lucky enough to hear a rousing Christmas medley from him.

Old Town Music Hall is one of a few original brick buildings from when Richmond Street was first constructed in 1917...

[Ed: Photo added 11/9/15]

...and it keeps a little bit of Old Hollywood glamour down in the Beach Cities area of LA County.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: First Congregational Church Organ Crawl
Photo Essay: Warner Grand, San Pedro, Open to the Public

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