11022 Downey Ave. | map |
Downey, CA 90241
Architect: Joe Vogel on Cinema Treasures speculates that the theatre was designed by Schilling and Schilling of Long Beach. He notes that Southwest Builder and Contractor announced a project on 5/15/25 at 3rd and Crawford St. (as Downey Ave. was then called) for Mrs. Ada B. Adams who also owned the Meralta Theatre at 10912 Downey.
The theatre was to be leased by L.R. Matthews, who operated another theatre called the Downey at the time. That other Downey was most likely at 11126 Downey Ave. and was much later known as El Teatro. Thanks, Joe!
The facade originally featured a lovely brick arch, later covered. The theatre had a full stage for the live shows that originally accompanied the films and about 15 dressing rooms in the basement under the stage. The screen was moved out in front of the original proscenium for Cinemascope. The stagehouse on the theatre was removed at some time after 1960.
The Avenue slid toward second run status in the 70s. It closed in 2003 and was purchased by the City of Downey. The Downey Historic Conservancy tried a petition drive to save the theatre in 2010 and revived it in 2013. 758 signatures on the petition hasn't been enough to convince the City of Downey to restore the building. The city says they'd be happy to sell it if someone wanted to operate it as a theatre.
The Downey Patriot ran a 2014 story about preservation issues in the city, including a discussion of the Avenue. An earlier story in The Patriot discusses the Avenue as part of the "Soul of the City."
Status: Sitting vacant. The front looks great at the moment with a mural making it look like it's an active theatre running "West Side Story." The building's only use since closing has been for a few minor film shoots.
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Avenue Theatre for some fine research by Joe Vogel about this building and other Downey theatres. Cinema Tour also has a page with a small 2002 exterior view.
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thedowneyconservancy.org | on Flickr | on Facebook
A look at the Avenue in its Victory Theatre days.
They're running "The Last Days of Boot Hill,"
a November 1947 release.
At the Avenue are "Wake Island" (1942) and "So Proudly We Hail"
(1943). Evidently they're running a couple of oldies to celebrate their
new facade remodel. The Meralta is running "Ma and Pa Kettle Go To
Town" (1950) and "The Great Rupert" with Jimmy Durante (1950).
A 60s look at the Avenue, "Home
of Academy Award Winners."
Also in the Conservancy's collection is a late 30s shot
looking up Downey Ave.from Firestone. In this small
detail from it the Avenue and the Meralta are visible --
the latter with a tall white stagehouse.
The Avenue, a darker brick building, is a block closer and a bit
to the left with the auditorium parallel to Downey Ave. And it
sports a stagehouse! -- later removed. Thanks to Cinema
Treasures researcher Joe Vogel for spotting this one!
| Victory Theatre Canteen -- ad for their new snackbar |
A 2013 view by Ken McIntyre
of the muralized entrance.
The Avenue Theatre in February 2012
photo: Google Maps
The very alive theatrer facade we see here is just for show --
a fix up designed to promote restoration of the theatre and make
the block look more lively. Click on the image to enlarge or
head to the current interactive version.
The rear of the Downey Theatre.
photo: Google Maps - February 2012
That's a Krikorian multiplex down 3rd St.
Click on the image to enlarge.
An earlier view of the Avenue.
photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009The photo appears in Michelle's fine
Theatres - California set on Flickr.
"Downey" by Larry Latimer and
| on Amazon |
A December 1961 look at the crowd for "West Side
Story" at the Avenue on page 79 of "Downey."
full size view | on Google Books
The book also has two photos of the
nearby Meralta Theatre on page 73.
The "West Side Story" photo also appears on
the site Moviemorlocks where they credit it to
the Downey Historical Conservancy.
full size view
A 2007 lobby view from
Rundfunkpunk's Downey set.
A 2007 auditorium view.
The rear of the auditorium in 2007.
In the booth.
An attic shot.
Backstage. Note the left channel speaker
system out in front of the original proscenium.
The basement dressing room corridor.
And there are many more Avenue Theatre
views to look at in RFP's Downey set.