Structure Type: built works - performing arts buildings

Designers: Maybeck, Bernard R., Architect (firm); Bernard Ralph Maybeck (architect)

Dates: constructed 1920, demolished 1929

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2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East
Los Angeles, CA 90068-2102

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Berkeley architect, Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957) had developed a statewide reputation in CA by the 1920s, although his works were still heavily concentrated in the Bay Area. He gained wide fame for his Palace of the Legion of Honor for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915). Maybeck had a deep interest in literature, dance and drama, and designed several performance spaces before this Outdoor Theatre for Christine Wetherhill Stevenson (1878-1922). He produced clubhouses for both the Bohemian Club (1903), which made him a member in 1899, and for Berkeley's homeowner group, the Hillside Club (1906), of which he was also a key member. For the Bohemians, Maybeck involved himself in its annual Jinx productions, building sets and designing costumes. He had lived in and around the University of California, Berkeley, (UCB), Campus, with its range of theatrical venues, including John Galen Howard's remarkable Hearst Greek Theatre (1903). Maybeck even put on family pageants at home, complete with costumes and scenery.

Building History

Maybeck designed this original wood-frame facility for Stevenson, a Philadelphia-born heiress to the Pittsburgh Paint Company fortune (founded in 1883), for the staging of her work,"The Pilgrimage Play;" in 1920. Stevenson was an actress, playwright and arts philanthropist, and had the finances to build venues for her religiously-themed productions. Originally connected to the Theatre Arts Alliance building the Hollywood Bowl, Stevenson and her wealthy friend, Marie Rankin Clarke (1868-1948) left that project c. 1920 in a dispute over the religious/spritiualist content that the two women favored. Stevenson bought 29 acres across the street from the Hollywood Bowl property, and established her Pilgrimage Theatre, where "The Pilgrimage Play" was staged each summer until 1929. In 10/1929. Maybeck's theatre burned in a hillside blaze. Rebuilt in concrete in 1930-1931 to recall the Judaic Gates of Jerusalem, the second Pilgrimage Theatre was renamed in 1941 for former Los Angeles County Supervisor, John Anson Ford, (1883-1983); referred to as "Mr. Los Angeles," The facility has also been known as the "John Anson Ford Amphitheatre."

Building Notes

The gates of the Pilgrimage Theatre #1 had an exotic look, with crenellated ramparts recreating Jerusalem's City Walls. The upper parts of the ramparts were cantilevered, adding to their apparent visual weight. Two battered towers standing well above the rampart walls, marked either side of the main entry. TheLos Angeles Times reported that Stevenson was "stricken" in East Los Angeles on 11/18/1922 and died three days later. She was 44. Tel: (323) GO-1-FORD (461-3673) (2004);


PCAD id: 2253