AKA: Mission Court Theatre, Downtown, Fullerton, CA; Fox Fullerton Theater, Downtown, Fullerton, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Meyer and Holler, Architects, Engineers and Builders (firm); John Gabriel Beckman (painter); Stiles Oliver Clements (architect); Philip W. Holler (architect); Raymond McCormick Kennedy Sr. (architect); Mendel S. Meyer (building contractor); Arthur M. Thompson (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1924-1925

2 stories, total floor area: 47,710 sq. ft.

Fullerton, CA

Within the Los Angeles architectural firm of Meyer and Holler, Raymond M. Kennedy designed three well-known theatres with courtyards in Southern California: the Egyptian, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, (1922), The Fox Fullerton Theatre (1925) and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles, (1927). Courtyards in front of these theatres enabled assemblages of glamorous Hollywood Stars to pose for the press, and became well-known for movie openings. C. Stanley Chapman, son of Fullerton's mayor and member of its most prominent business family, commissioned the Los Angeles firm of Meyer and Holler to design this $300,000 theatre, named for his new wife Alice Ellen Weber Chapman. Opened on 05/28/1925, it was the first movie palace erected in then sparsely populated Orange County, and was designed by Meyer and Holler's in-house architect, Raymond M. Kennedy, Sr. (1891-1976). The Los Angeles firm of A.B. Heinsbergen and Company--one of the leading painting firms in Southern California--produced six murals within the facility depicting the history of CA. An artist employed by Meyer and Holler, John Gabriel Beckman, produced additional murals and other artwork for the interior. At various times, the theatre has been known as Chapman’s Alician Court Theatre (c. 1925), the Universal Mission Court Theatre (c. 1929), the Fox Fullerton Theatre (1930s) and the Fox Mission Theatre. In the 1950s, the theatre was part of the Mann cinema chain. The Fox Fullerton Theatre closed in 1987, following 62 years of business.

The 30,275-square-foot theatre served as the anchor of a 37,875-square-foot mixed-use building that contained four parts. The theatre, flanked by a one-story, 585-square-foot, retail space (originally housing Laura's Flower Shoppe), and an auto service station to the south and the two-floor Mary Louise Tea Room on the north. Originally, the wife of owner Charles Stanley Chapman (1899-1984), Alice Weber Chapman (1903-1981), operated the 9,700-square-foot tea room that, in later years, transitioned to became a restaurant. The tea room opened in 1925, shortly after the Chapmans married in 1924. The theatre was situated on the northeast corner of Harbor (once called Spadra) Boulevard and Chapman Avenue. Harbor Boulevard comprised part of the El Camino Real, U.S. Highway 101, an important artery connecting Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties.

Several changed occurred in 1929; When it was known as the Mission Court Theatre, ownership installed movie sound equipment at a cost of $35,000. On 07/13/1929, a 7,150-square foot automobile service station was added to the building's south end, designed by architect Stiles O. Clements (1883-1966), of the Los Angeles firm, Morgan, Walls and Clements. Building contractor Arthur M. Thompson erected the addition to house Roy J. Lyon Tire Service, a Firestone dealer. Between 1929-1978, a succession of automobile-focused enterprises utilized the space; it was remodeled in 1978 to become a small retail center called "Fox Plaza." In 1930, the Fox West Coast Agency relocated the theatre's ticket office from the back of the entry courtyard to the front entrance. This was the same configuration of Meyer and Holler's Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, which also had its original ticket office relocated. Additional changes to the Fox Fullerton's ticketing booths occurred in 1955 and 1970. (See Debora Richey, "Fox Fullerton Theatre," National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, p. 24, 03/21/2006Accessed 05/01/2013.) In 1955, new operators, the Mann Corporation, altered the marquee signage on the exterior and enhanced the interior's sound and projection systems to handle new wide-screen formats. The State of California provided $2 million to the Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation in 2007. Efforts to raise funding to restore the Chapman’s Alician Court Theatre/Fox Fullerton Theatre continued in 2009.

Fullerton Local Landmark (1990-07-12): 35

National Register of Historic Places (October 25, 2006): 6000948 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 6790