Most of us are sadly familiar with the present state of a former Eastside jewel, the Golden Gate Theater.
The property, including the remaining auditorium structure, are currently under ownership by a development company who appears inclined to possibly lease it to a commercial builder. I’ve heard of a proposed Walgreen’s drug store or something of that nature being mentioned. Over the past few years, I’ve undertaken a grassroots preservation effort by networking with local individuals and groups who unanimously agree that this former icon deserves a legacy worthy of the historical and cultural importance of our East Los Angeles community.
I now call out to anyone out there who agrees that this site of the Golden Gate Theater should house something of more significance and better use for the community than another drug store. And now, there’s a small glimmer of hope…
Based on my recent posts on the Golden Gate, I have recently been contacted by the Los Angeles Conservancy to share my efforts with them and present our case at a public hearing scheduled for next week. If you agree with us and would like to support our proposal for something better on that corner, now is the time that we need your emails and letters of support. Post your responses here, send an email, whatever way suits you, and I will compile the entire show of support and present it to the planning commission. And please do it soon! We’re also banking on our faith that Ms. Molina and the County board will also lend their support by reconsidering the current plans for the space.
Imagine the possibilities, An East L.A. Cultural, Arts & Heritage Center, a place for our neighborhood students to rediscover their local history. A place to showcase the images, recordings, readings, history, literature & arts that the Eastside has contributed to the world. Or perhaps a local non-profit could find some wonderful use for it. I especially would like to see the stage and auditorium refurbished and reused again. I’d almost say: “Anything but another drug store!”
Thanks to all in advance! Let’s do this. Below is a copy of the L.A. Conservancy’s position letter with the information on the hearing at the very bottom.
Golden Gate Theater Re-Use Project – 5170-5188 Whittier Boulevard
Summary of the Proposed Project
Built in 1927, the 1,454-seat theater, located at the prime corner of Whittier and Atlantic Boulevards in unincorporated East Los Angeles, has sat vacant for well over a decade and has been repeatedly threatened with demolition, despite its listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Its current owner, the Charles Company, purchased the building in 2003 and is proposing to renovate and remove many of the theatre’s interior features for use by a retail pharmacy. The Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission will be considering the project at a public hearing on Wednesday, May 13, 2009.
Historic Significance of the Theater
• The 1927 Golden Gate Theatre, is one of Los Angeles’ most significant neighborhood movie palaces. The Spanish Churrigueresque-style theatre was built by developer Peter Snyder, known as the “Father of the East Side.”
• It was designed by William and Clifford Balch, who also participated in the design of the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard and the Fox Theatre in Pomona. The Vega Building, a historic retail building that once surrounded the theatre, suffered damage from the Whittier Earthquake and was demolished in the early 1990s.
• The Golden Gate Theatre is one of a handful of neighborhood movie palaces from the 1920s that remain in Southern California, and is the sole remaining intact neighborhood movie palace in East Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Conservancy Position
The Los Angeles Conservancy has objected to the proposed removal and covering over of interior features, leaving the space virtually unrecognizable and unusable as a theater, and also threatening its listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The Conservancy has requested changes to the design that would leave the interior intact and visible to the public, and has also urged the developer to seriously consider other, more compatible community-oriented uses – such as a live theater, restaurant or club use, or use as an assembly space for religious congregations.
Public Hearing and Public Comments
Please plan on attending the May 13, 2009 hearing to share your views about the proposed project. The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission will hear public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which discusses the impacts of the project on the historic theater and also evaluates other possible uses. This is a valuable opportunity for members of the public to learn about the proposed project and to share their opinions with the developer and decision makers.
What: Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission Meeting
When: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Health Services Auditorium, 313 N. Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90012