Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - opera houses

Designers: Willard, A.C., Architect (firm); Wilson, G. Stanley, Architect (firm); Wood, James M., Architect (firm); A. C. Willard (architect); G. Stanley Wilson (architect); James M. Wood (architect)

Dates: constructed 1889-1890

3 stories

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3685 Main Street
Downtown, Riverside, CA 92501

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Overview

Located on the northwest corner of Main Street and 7th Street, the Loring Building was a mixed-use complex housing offices, stores, and an opera house. The opera house portion on the west end of the 7th Street (Mission Inn Avenue) facade, was torn down following a fire. The Loring Building stands west of the Mission Inn, on the other side of Main Street.

Building History

A Maine-born businessman who made his fortune in trading commodities and milling grain in Minneapolis, MN, Charles Morgridge Loring (1833-1922) spent his winters in the Riverside area by the 1880s. In 1889, he commissioned Riverside architect A.C. Willard to design a three-story office block that also contained an opera house. This Richardsonian Romanesque pile had a brick structure with rusticated masonry trimming storefronts on the first floor, and windows on the second above the main entrance. The office block portion, located at 3685 Main Street, was leased to the City of Riverside for use as its first city hall, jail, courthouse and library. (In 1925, the Loring Building's address was 699 Main Street. See Riverside, California, City Directory, 1925, p. 230.) The library was located on the building's second floor. The Loring Opera House stood at 3745 7th Street.

Architect James M. Wood (1841-c. 1923), who began as a building contractor and developed a specialty by the 1880s for designing theatres and opera houses, designed the Loring Opera House's interior. He had been brought to Southern California from Chicago to oversee the remodeling of the interior of O.W. Childs's Opera House (1884) in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Herald reported in its issue of 04/22/1888: "Mr. C.M. Loring, a very wealthy and influential citizen of Minneapolis, and one of the owners of the Grand Opera House in that city, has been in Los Angeles for two or three days in consultation with Manager Wyatt and Mr. Woods, the architect, brought from the East by Mr. O.W. Childs, with a view to building a beautiful opera house in Riverside. Manager Wyatt has signed a lease for the house for three years, and Mr. woods and Colonel Gray will build the same." (See "A Riverside Opera House, Los Angeles Herald, vol. 30, no. 20, 04/22/1888, p. 5.)

According to information presented on its web site, the Riverside Public Library indicated: "The Loring Opera House Company was formed and the Articles of Incorporation were drawn and signed on June 7 th, 1889. C.M. Loring provided capital of twenty-five thousand dollars and S. C. Evans contributed another five thousand to the project. By October 18, 1890 the 7 member Board of Directors voted to take out a loan and pay Loring and Evans back. Then in November of 1891, the Loring Opera House was involved in a Superior Court case having to do with the San Francisco Theological Seminary. This went on until April 12, 1892. With well over 400 performances at the Loring Opera House over this 30+ year span, the collection contributes valuable insight to the history of entertainment and life in Riverside." (See Riverside Public Library, "Loring Opera House and Theatre Program Collection 1890 - 1923,"Accessed 05/13/2011.) The Loring Opera House in Riverside, CA, opened on 01/08/1890 with O.W. Kyle's production of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera, "Iolanthe."

The building operated under several different names, beginning as the Loring Opera House, and then becoming the Loring Theatre (c. 1918), the Fox Riverside Theatre and, finally, the Golden State Theatre (c. 1928-1990).

Frank A. Miller was the Manager of the Loring Opera House in 1905. William M. Hayt was the President of the Loring Opera House Company in that year. (See Riverside, California, City Directory, 1905, p. 170.)

In 1918, C.L. Nye owned the Loring Theatre. He sold the rest of the Loring Office Building in 04/1918 to J.C. Odell, but retained the more profitable theatre.

Building Notes

A court case was waged between the San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Loring Opera House in 1891-1892.

n 1918, the Loring Office Building and Opera House had 101 feet on street frontage on Main Street and 98 feet on Seventh.

The Loring Opera House had one of its last performances in 1923.

Alteration

In 04/1918 C.A. Howe and G.G. Merrill, owners of the nearby Regent and Orpheum Theatres, signed a 10-year lease with owner Nye to operate a completely renovated Loring Theatre. Architect G. Stanley Wilson supervised this $25,000 theatre renovation. The Riverside Daily Pressstated in its edition of 04/06/1918: "Plans for tbe alterations provide for tearing out the entire auditorium, including the stage. When the wrecking crew has completed its work and ready to turn the shell over to the architects, there will be nothing left but the four bare walls. The plans call for an increased seating capacity from about 800 to 1100. Starting in at the entrance on Seventh street, a beautiful lobby is planned. Marble, tile and hardwood will be used in its construction. The lobby will open into a gorgeous lounging room, such as are seen in the great theaters of the large cities, providing comforts for those who, by reason of appointments, must wait for the coming of friends or members of parties. The appointments of this lounging room will be perfect and the decorative features will be of the most modern that art can produce. There will be no steps to the entrance of the auditorium. The new plans eliminate this bad feature. A great archway will open from the lounging room into the theater proper and lead on either side will be wide stairways leading up to the balcony. The elevation of the balcony will be materially reduced, yet the plans are such that every seat provided for has a clear view of the stage. In the front of the balcony will be a row of private boxes constructed as the plan in vogue of some of the most beautiful theaters in the United States. The elevation of the seats back of the balcony boxes is such that the latter will in nowise interfere with the view of the patrons. From wall to wall the lowe floor will be rebuilt. There will be no loge seats on the main floor as at present and the boxes on either side of the stage will be taken out, making it possible ot increase the stage opening, so as to admit the largest stage settings without crowding. It is calculated to widen the opening at least six feet."

This long article describing the interior changes to the Loring Theatre continued, "As planned in the balcony, there will be a row of private boxes in the back of the lower floor, extending the entire width of the auditorium. These will be slightly elevated so that the occupants may be able to have a clear vision of the stage. The boxes will occupy the space that is now taken up by the lobby in the rear of the auditorium, as the plans call for extending the seating capacity back to the present interior walls. There will be no unsightly posts standing between the occupants of seats and the stage, the plans providing for the balcony support by means of the interior wall in which will be built the great archway leading into the theater. The present dressing room arrangement on the stage will be torn out, the plans calling for a larger stage, more modernly equipped. The furnishings for the new theater will be up to the minute. Nothing will be overlooked that will add to the comforts of the patrons. The lighting arrangements will be the most modern and the ventilating system will be such that the fresh air currents will be passing through the theater every few minutes. Stanley Wilson, the Riverside contracting architect, will be in charge of the work."(See "Howe and Merrill To Convert Loring into Modern Theatre," Riverside Daily Press, 04/06/1918, p. 6.)

The Riverside architect Welmer P. Lamar updated the venue's exterior in the late 1920s. It reopened under the management of Fox West Coast Theatres on 10/15/1928 as the "Golden State Theatre" with a screening of Al Jolson's movie, "The Singing Fool." (See William Gabel and James Costa, Cinema Treasures.org, "Golden State Theatre," accessed 03/08/2018.)

Significant changes have been made to the building's exterior since its completion in 1890.

Demolition

Following a fire in 1990, the theatre, was torn down, but the altered remains of the rest of the office block remains.

PCAD id: 7200