AKA: Wyatt Theatre, Redlands, CA

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

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1904, demolished 1929

2 stories

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805 Orange Avenue
Downtown, Redlands, CA 92374

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This 1,180-seat opera house, done in the Mission Revival Style, was managed by the well-known Los Angeles impressario, Henry C. Wyatt, and was part of a theatrical circuit that inlcuded nine cities in Southern Californa by 1904.

Building History

Discussion within the Redlands community of the need for a theatre in which dramatic and musical productions could be stage had been occurring by at least 1903. A 10/08/1903 article in the Los Angeles Times noted that town leaders including H.P.D. Kingsbury, A.C. Denman, Jr., and E.S. Graham met with Los Angeles theatre manager Henry C. Wyatt to formalize plans to build a venue. (See "Theater Looks Likely," Los Angeles Times, 10/08/1903, p. A6.) The building had not been started by 04/1904, when the Los Angeles Times reported that planning for the theatre had been "revived" by local businessman J.E. Light: "The scheme to build a modern theater in Redlands has been revived by J.E. Light, one of the city's wealthy residents, who has secured a guarantee of the necessary capital. It is expected to have the building ready for the opening next season. It will be located at the corner of Colton avenue and Orange street, and will have a seating capacity of 1100. H.C. Wyatt of Los Angeles will be the lessee." (See "New Theater," Los Angeles Times, 04/27/1904, p. A6.)

The Wyatt Opera House in Redlands had its first perfornance on 11/07/1904. The Los Angeles Times stated: "The Wyatt, Redlands' handsome new operahouse, will be opened Monday night with Ben Greet's company in "Twelfth Night." The long-lost chairs have arrived and are being placed." (See "Redlands: Operahouse Opening," Los Angeles Times, 11/02/1904, p. A8.) Apparently, a shipment of 1100 theatre seats was misplaced during its transport from Los Angeles to Redlands, and only recovered by early November 1904.

A news item appeared in the Los Angeles Herald suggesting, perhaps, business problems at the Wyatt Opera House: "Some excitement has been caused by the announcement that the Redland opera house may be taken off the circuit by Mr. Wyatt. Although nothing definite has been done as yet the fact that Mr. Wyatt has booked his shows for next season with the understanding that they may or may not be played here signifies his attitude. The trouble is due to several causes, but is chiefly over the question of rentals. The matter is now in the hands of attorneys." (See Los Angeles Herald, "Redlands Comments," vol. 32, no. 319, 08/16/1905, p. 5.)

The opera house's "long-lost chairs" played a role in a drama that unfolded about a week after the above article was published and less than a year after the opera house's opening. The Los Angeles Times reported in 08/1905: "The beautiful Wyatt Operahouse at Redlands is the storm center of a batch of fierce squabbles which today culminated in two civil suits and one criminal action. J.E. Light, who promoted the building, and after making a contract with the Western School Supply Company to furnish it, transferred the theater property to the Redlands Improvement company, of which he is a large stockholder, defaulted in paying for furnishings, and this morning the Supply Company broke into the building and took away by force nearly 1000 opera chairs. The Redlands Improvement Company this afternoon brought action against the Supply Company for $1400 damages, and Light swore to a complaint against B.T. Underwood, the company's agent, charging him with the malicious mischief, in breaking into the theater. Late this evening Judge J.S. Noyes of Riverside hurried to the county line to sign a writ of injunction against Light, the Western Supply Company, the Redlands Improvement Company and H.C. Wyatt, lessee of the theater, to enjoin them from removing any more furnishings from the theater, the plaintiff in this action being F.P. Morrison, who holds in trust deeds for the theater property to secure payment of mortgage aggregating $30,000." (See "Barrels of Woe in a Playhouse: Doors Forced, Furniture Removed by Creditors," Los Angeles Times, 08/23/1905, pt. II, p. 8.)

Frank C. Nye purchased the Wyatt Opera House in 09/1910.

Building Notes

In addition ot dramatic and musical performances, the Wyatt Opera House also accommodated local cultural events, such as Redlands High School's graduation ceremonies in 1907 and a celebration of the Japanese Emperor's 60th birthday in 1911. Of the second event, the Los Angeles Times reported: "The sixtieth anniversary of the birth of His Majesty The Emperor of Japan, was fittingly celebrated last night by the San Bernardino County Japanese Society at the Wyatt Opera House, a fourth of which was reserved for the Japanese, the remainder being filled with representative people to whom invitations had been issued. The programme included addresses by S. Yokota, F.M, Nagai and J. Takiguchi also by Mayor J.H. Straft of Redlands; Rev. Dr. J.H. Williams pastor of the Congregational Church and Dr. W.P. Burke. One of the remarkable features of the afternoon was the translation of all of these speeches, the Japanese into the English and the English into the Japanese by a Japanese student, who took lightning-like notes and immediately after the speaker was seated too his place before the audience and delivered the speech in the other language, referring only occasionally to his notes. The portraits of the Emperor and Empress were unveiled and the imperial rescript was read." (See "Japanese Show Love for Mikado," Los Angeles Times, 11/05/1911, pt. I, p. 11 and "Fifty-Seven Graduate: Commencement of the Redlands High School--Planning for the Fourth of July," Los Angeles Times, 06/19/1907, pt. II, p. 13.)


In 12/1928, the local building inspector closed the theatre down due to its poor physical condition. As a result, it was torn down in 1929. (See Cinema Treasures.org, "Wyatt Theatre," accessed 03/14/2019.)

PCAD id: 4693