AKA: Los Angeles Orpheum #2, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA; Lyceum Theatre, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Capitain and Burton, Architects (firm); James Lee Burton (architect); Frank Joseph Capitain (architect)

Dates: constructed 1888, demolished 1941

4 stories

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227 South Spring Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90012-3709

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The Los Angeles Theatre Building occupied the street frontages from 225-229 South Spring Street.


The architectural tandem of Capitain and Burton designed this theatre for a real estate investor, Juana A. Neal. The architects adopted the then-popular Richardsonian Romanesque Style for the Los Angeles Theatre #1. It opened for business on 12/17/1888 with its own repertory company.

Building History

In 1887-1888, Mrs. Juana A. Neal (born c. 1840 in OH-d. 09/20/1914), a wealthy investor who owned property in New York, NY, and Montana, had been dabbling in real estate in the Los Angeles area. At this time, she decided on building a theatre as an investment property in Downtown Los Angeles on South Spring Street.

Neal contracted with her building contractors to erect the four-story structure in approximately 100 days. An article in the Los Angeles Evening Herald said of the new theatre: “The excavations for the new theater, on Mrs. Juana A. Neal’s property, on Spring street, are now going on. The front of the edifice, which will be four stories high, is to be constructed entirely of brown and red sandstone. Mrs. Agnes Benton, recently of the Folly theater, New York, will attend to the artistic details of the house, while the business and financial interests will be under the supervision of F.H. Gassaway. The contractors are under bond to complete the edifice in about 100 days.”(See “The New Theater,” Los Angeles Evening Herald, 03/26/1888, p. 5.) Construction took until 12/1888 to complete, well over the three-month window stipulated in the contract.

After some legal difficulties, Neal sold the Los Angeles Theatre and its site to Los Angeles lumberman and real estate owner, W.H. Perry for $140,000 in 08/1892. The theatre had the reputation at this time of being one of the most modern on the Pacific Coast. In its earliest days, it was managed by Harry C. Wyatt. Perry remodeled the interior of the Los Angeles Theatre, very soon after purchasing it, in late 08/1892.

The Los Angeles Theatre was known subsequently as an Orpheum venue and as Fischer's Lyceum in 1911. According to Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide of 1897, the Los Angeles Theatre seated 1,488, with 532 at orchestra level, 406 in the balcony and 550 in the gallery. The proscenium was 30 feet wide and 29 feet high. Wyatt was still the Business Manager and Manager of the Los Angeles Theatre in 1897.

Building Notes

The theatre had a 61-foot, front facade lining Spring Street.

The Los Angeles Evening Herald writer described the theatre: "The entrance of the theater, flanked on either side by stores, will consist of a carved arch thirty-two feet in width, leading to a spacious lobby, richly decorated, and thence to the Foyer. From this point entrance is gained, through three wide doors to the auditorium, composed of the orchestra and parquet circles. Above these come the dress circle, or first balcony, which is succeeded higher up by the family circle. The whole aspect of the interior will be unique and striking—time honored conventionalities of theatre decorations being particularly avoided. It is the aim of the architects, Frank J. Capitain and J. Lee Burton, to attain a general Alhambra-like effect, which be as imposing as it is novel. The decorations will resemble those of the Alcazar of San Francisco. There will be eight boxes." Capitain and Burton specified the use of "McVicker Chairs" a seating brand "...conceded to be the most comfortable and easy now in use." (See “The New Theater,” Los Angeles Evening Herald, 03/26/1888, p. 5.) This seating probably was a new reclining seat produced by the A.H. Andrews Company of Chicago, and made famous in the McVicker's Theatre and the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago.

As was necessary for every theatre of gas-light age, concern about fires was paramount. Potential guests of the theatre were reassure: "The stage will contain all the very latest improvements and facilities invented up to date. There will be three curtains altogether. Stage furniture and scenery are to comprise everything known to the most elaborate eastern theaters. Every precaution that ingenuity can think of will be used against fire. The auditorium will be shut off from the stage by an iron curtain. In such an event all canvas used for scenery, draperies, etc., will be treated by the New York Fire Department incombustible process." (See “The New Theater,” Los Angeles Evening Herald, 03/26/1888, p. 5.)

As in many theatres of the period, the basement space was to be used as a restaurant and bar: "The entire basement of the building, with the exception of that under the stage, will be devoted to a ‘cafe’ and saloon, after the style of the San Francisco ‘Louvre.’" (See “The New Theater,” Los Angeles Evening Herald, 03/26/1888, p. 5.)

It stood next to the Music Hall, torn down between 1920 and 1941.

A spring bubbled beneath the foundations of the Los Angeles Theatre, one of several in the area that gave Spring Street its name.


William Perry remodeled the Los Angeles's interior in 08/1892. Fires damaged the Los Angeles Theatre (also known as the Orpheum and the Lyceum) over the years; one occurred on 10/21/1899, another, on 05/03/1913, causing $10,000 worth of damage.


The Lyceum Theatre and its neighbor, the Music Hall (originally a Turnverein Hall), was razed in early 1941 to make room for a Los Angeles Times Building parking lot. At the time of its demolition, the Lyceum was Los Angeles's second oldest theatre building. The Gore Brothers owned the Los Angeles Theatre #1/Lyceum Theatre at its end. They leased the site for use as a parking lot, for a period of 25 years, yielding a minimum rental of $195,000 per annum. (See "Spring St. Lease Involves $195,000," Los Angeles Times, 03/23/1941, p. E3.)

PCAD id: 9199