AKA: Grand Theatre, Downtown Los Angeles, CA; Orpheum Theatre #1, Downtown Los Angeles, CA

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

Designers: Kysor and Morgan, Architects (firm); Wood, James M., Architect (firm); Ezra Franklin Kysor (architect); Octavius Morgan (architect); James Madison Wood (architect)

Dates: constructed 1883-1884, demolished 1936

2 stories

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110 South Main Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90012-3702

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Also known as "Childs's Grand Opera House," the building was listed in 1889 as '"econstructed" and owned by O.W. Childs. (See Jno B. Jeffery's Guide and Directory to the Opera Houses, Theatres, Public Halls, Bills Posters, Etc., of the Cities and Towns of America, Eleventh and Revised Edition, [Chicago: Jno. B. Jeffery, 1889], p. 9.)

Building History

Ozro W. Childs (1824-1890), a tinsmith, nursery owner, and important 19th century landowner in Los Angeles, CA, financed the erection of the Grand Opera House in 1883-1884. He commissioned the firm of one of the city's leading architects, Ezra F. Kysor (1834-1907), Kysor and Morgan, to design his entertainment palace, the grandest south of San Francisco. It served as a leading cultural venue in the last quarter of the 19th century in the city, accommodating traveling stage productions, musical reviews, minstrel shows, comedians, student performances, operettas, as well as operas.

The renowned actor, Edwin Booth (1833-1893), performed "Hamlet" and the "Merchant of Venice" at the Grand Opera House, Los Angeles, c. 03/03/1887; the controversial actress, Lily Langtry (1853-1929), appeared in "Lady Clancarty" c. 07/16/1887; and the French actress, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), performed in "La Tosca," c. 09/13/1891. Between 1894-1903, the Childs'/Grand Theatre became the first Southern CA stop for the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit; Orpheum transferred its operations to the Los Angeles Theatre #1 in 1903. Significantly, this theatre was the first in Los Angeles to exhibit Thomas Edison's new motion picture technology on 07/06/1896.

Building Notes

The building's name was sometimes written "Childs' Opera House," rather than Childs's Opera House. It was also known as the Grand Opera House from an early date.

The Los Angeles City Council enabled the Childs' Opera House to extend into the sidewalk in 1883. The Los Angeles Times stated: "A resolution granting to O.W. Childs certain privileges on Main street at the new opera house, allowing a projection of 15 inches on the sidewalk by 20 feet in length for the facade, was passed; 9 ayes and 2 noes." (See "Council Proceedings," Los Angeles Times, 10/28/1883, p. 6.)

In 1896, the Grand Theatre could contain 1,311 patrons. In its last decade or so of use, the theatre was known as "El Teatro Mexico," as it showed Spanish-language films.

The Childs/Grand Opera House closed on 04/05/1936. (See Historic Los Angeles Theatres--Downtown.com, "Grand Opera House," accessed 03/14/2019.)


Childs' Opera House was remodeled in 1887-1888 and reopened to the public on 07/09/1888. Architect James M. Wood, (1841-c.1923), who spent much of his career in Chicago, IL, was responsible for this remodeling work.

The Grand Opera House showed silent films in 1911, featuring the Kinemacolor process.


This early entertainment spot was torn down c. 1936.

PCAD id: 9185