Manchester Theatre

322 W. Manchester Ave.
  | map |  

Los Angeles, CA 90003

Opened: January 30, 1926 with "Bluebeard's Seven Wives." Theda Bara was at the opening. Looks like perhaps they didn't make their intended January 5 opening date.

Ken McIntyre found an article in the L.A. Times issue of December 13, 1925:

"Sol Lesser, secretary of West Coast Theaters, Inc, has announced definitely the opening of the West Coast Uptown on the 29th and the West Coast Manchester Theater on January 5, 1926.

The West Coast Manchester has been designed as a family theater and every modern convenience for the public has been incorporated into the building.

Sol Lesser said, 'We have built this theater with a view of the future growth of Los Angeles. It has a seating capacity of 1700 people and we expect that part of the city to grow very fast in the next few years. This theater will permit people living a long way from the downtown section to attend a show as fine as any presented in the larger downtown theaters, and to see it in as fine a house as any theater anywhere.'"

Seating: 1,668

Architect: L.A. Smith, who did many other similar projects for West Coast Theatres. This one was reported to have an East Indian style interior. See our Blogspot posts on Mr. Smith for interior views of some of his theatres as well as a list of other projects.

It was advertised as the West Coast Manchester and after the circuit became Fox West Coast around 1929, as the Fox Manchester Theatre.

The location on Manchester is between S. Figueroa and S. Broadway, just east of the Harbor Freeway. It was on the south side of the street.

Fox initially was running vaudeville shows in their theatres that they assembled themselves. Later the circuit switched to using pre-packaged Fanchon & Marco "Ideas" as prologues to the films. Fanchon & Marco used the Manchester as a "break-in" house to perform their new productions before taking them downtown to Loew's State. Photos of several of their productions there are on our page about the State's auditorium.

It's unknown when Fox West Coast got out and the theatre came under the management of Fanchon & Marco's Southside Theatres (and was then just known as the Manchester Theatre). They were running it in 1950 but threatening to close it as they couldn't get decent product from a number of distributors.

Later as an independent after F&M left it got a reputation for being run-down and running marginal product.

Status: Closed in the early 70s -- it's been demolished.  The site is currently a used car lot. "Theatres in Los Angeles" notes that the Wurlitzer was donated to Loyola Marymount University in 1974.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Manchester for lots of stories.  The Pacific Coast Architecture Database has a listing for the Manchester.

For For more on Fanchon & Marco head to the site curated by the family, Also see their terrific Fanchon & Marco set on Flickr.

    Julius Schulman - Getty Research Institute   

A 1951 look west on Manchester toward the theatre.
That's South Broadway at the intersection. The theatre's
gone but the old bank on the corner and the building to its
 west are still there. The ramps for the 110 Freeway are
now just beyond the theatre site.

Julius Schulman was out photographing various branch
offices for Bank of America. It was his Job #1034.
The set of
three views also includes a similar shot from farther away.

Thanks to Hoss C for finding the photos in the Getty
collection. It's part of his Noirish Los Angeles post #30819.

| this photo set on the Getty site | more Shulman photos |

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    George Mann Collection

The Manchester on August 22, 1930. The film playing is
"The Unholy 3" with Lon Chaney and Lila Lee.  The stage show
 includes Sal Love, Barto and Mann, and the Quillan Family.
full size view |
on Flickr

The photo was taken by George Mann of the comedy
dance team Barto and Mann. Note Mr. Mann's name on
the marquee.  It's in Brad Smith's great theatre marquees set.

Mr. Mann was Brad Smith's father. Mr. Smith's wife, Dianne
Woods, has taken on the task of preserving and organizing the Mann
 photos in the George Mann Archive. Don't miss a chance to browse
the archive for a wonderful look at a lost theatrical world.

The photo also appears on Photos of Los Angeles.

    Motion Picture News

A look at the Manchester from the Motion
Picture News issue of February 28, 1929.
full size view | on Internet Archive

    Theatres in Los Angeles   

by Suzanne Tarbell Cooper,
Amy Ronnebeck Hall and Marc Wanamaker.
Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
arcadia publishing | google books preview

This 1944 photo of the Manchester appears on
page 114 of the Arcadia Publishing book "Theatres
in Los Angeles." Most of the photos in the book
are from Mr. Wanamaker's Bison Archives.