AKA: El Capitan Theater #1, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA; S.R.O. Paramount Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Lansburgh, G. Albert, Architect (firm); Morgan, Walls and Clements, Architects (firm); Stiles Oliver Clements (architect); Gustave Albert Lansburgh (architect); Octavius Weller Morgan Sr. (architect); Charles Edward Toberman (developer); John A. Walls (architect)

Dates: constructed 1922-1926

6834-38 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90028-6102

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El Capitan Theater

Hollywood banker and real estate developer, Charles E. Toberman (1880-1981), financed the construction of this celebrated, reinforced concrete theatre. (The El Capitan Theatre and the six-story office building in which it was housed, was the tallest building in Hollywood at the time, and the first to have been air-conditioned.) Initially, the El Capitan accommodated primarily live theatre; its first performance occurred on 05/03/1926. G. Albert Lansburgh (1876-1969), a sought-after theatre designer, created the El Capitan's exotic interior. The Los Angeles architecture firm, Morgan, Walls and Clements, produced the Spanish Colonial Revival exterior for the El Capitan Office Buidling surrounding the theatre. The building was also to contain a department store, shops and lofts. The interior design company, Barker Brothers, leased the building's showroom space from 10/1926-1969. Following Paramount's ownership, which ended in 1948, the United Paramount Theatres Company took over ownership of the El Capitan. Several owners followed during the 1950s-1970s. By the 1980s, the El Capitan was owned by Pacific Theatres. Pacific leased it to the Walt Disney Company. which used it for motion picture premiere events. In 2008, Pacific Theatres had the El Capitan on the market for a $31 million asking price.

Originally, the El Capitan Theatre could seat 1,550. Tel: 323 467-7674 (2004)

The Paramount Pictures Corporation bought the property and had it "modernized" in 1941-42. Paramount altered the facility to show movies primarily rather than to accommodate live performances. Paramount was forced to sell its theatre holdings following the Supreme Court's United States v. Paramount Pictures, Incorporated, decision, which broke up vertical monopolies, (in this case, a motion picture production company also controlling film distribution and exhibition businesses.) The Pacific Theatres exhibition chain leased two theatres to the Walt Disney Company c. 1989, the El Capitan in Hollywood and the Crest in the Westwood Neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. Disney utilized the theatres for screenings and premieres, and spent $14 million on renovation of the El Capitan, re-opening it in 06/1991. Historic preservation architect Martin Eli Weil (1940-2009), architect Edward Fields and theatre designer Joseph J. Musil collaborated on this restoration. For the reopening, Disney installed the Wurlitzer organ salvaged from the immense San Francisco Fox Theatre (built in 1929, demolished to much consternation in 1963).

Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument (06/12/1990): 495

PCAD id: 292