Meralta Theatre - Downey

10912 Downey Ave.  | map

Downey, CA 90241 

Opened: November 24, 1924Johnny Van Matre was on the organ. The theatre generally played first run films and was the class place to go for those living in Paramount, Norwalk, Lakewood or Downey. There was a cry room upstairs for the babies and loge seats at the rear if you wanted to splurge.

The theatre was initially operated by Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta, who each gave a syllable of their last name to the venue. The address was originally N. Crawford St.- it got renamed. Mrs. Ada B. Adams was the owner of the property.

Pearl and Laura also operated two other Meralta theatres. See our pages on the Culver City Meralta and the East L.A. Meralta.

In the 50s, the Meralta was operated by Cummings Theatres, who also had the Avenue Theatre nearby and the Norwalk on Firestone.

Seating: 853 after the 1961 reseating.

Architect: Evan Jones, of Hollywood.

It got a remodel in 1947 by Clarence Smale and he gave it another re-do in 1961. The 1961 remodel included work on the facade (but retained the earlier signage) plus new auditorium wall treatment and seating. The August 7, 1961 issue of Boxoffice ran an article describing the renovations that year.

Status: Closed in the 70s and demolished in 1978. It's now a parking lot.

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Meralta for research by Joe Vogel and other dedicated.contributors.

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    Downey Historical Society

A lovely but lonely early morning view
 looking along Downey Ave. Thanks to Larry
Latimer for the undated photo.
full size view

    Los Angeles Public Library

A 20s look at the Meralta facade.
This view is also in the collection of the
 Downey Conservancy on Flickr.

    Michael Poulin - Dying in Downey

A rare postcard look at the
Meralta from Michael's collection.
The Meralta in 1961 or 1962
 running "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

    Brad Smith on Flickr

A 1926 photo of the Meralta taken by George Mann,
of the comedy dance team of Barto and Mann.

The photo is part of a set of 133
 Theatre Marquees by George Mann.

    Cinema Treasures

A 1961 auditorium view added
 to Cinema treasures by Bill Gabel.
Also in the collection:
| facade shot - 1961 "The Grass is Greener" |

The auditorium photo and facade view both appear in
the August 7, 1961 issue of Boxoffice, part of an
article describing the renovation that year.

There's also a nice facade view in a Wagner
ad in the December 3, 1949 issue of Boxoffice.

    Downey Historical Conservancy | on Flickr | on Facebook

A c.1928 photo of the Meralta from the
collection of the Downey Conservancy.
At the time, the theatre was playing "The Cameraman"
with Buster Keaton. The building was flanked by auto dealers:
 Pontiac on the left, a Buick dealer on the right.

A cropped version of the photo above appears on page 73
of the Arcadia Publishing book "Downey" by Larry Latimer
and the Downey Historical Society.

Also in the Conservancy's collection is a late 30s shot
looking up Downey Ave. from Firestone. In this small detail
from it the Meralta stands out with its 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 that was later removed.  Thanks to Cinema
Treasures researcher Joe Vogel for spotting this one!
full image

1950 vintage photos of the nearby Avenue and the Meralta.
 It's a page from a publication that showed them both at the
 time being operated by Cummings Theatres.
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).

It's Fall 1953 and we're giving away a car at the
"Halloween Jalopy Revue," courtesy of the neighboring
 Pontiac dealer. Films this week were "The Caddy" with Martin
and Lewis along with Jimmy Stewart in "Thunder Bay."

full size view | on Flickr

A cropped version of the photo above appears on
page 73 of the Arcadia Publishing book "Downey" by Larry
 Latimer and the Downey Historical Society.

The entrance of the Meralta in 1957.

Also in the collection: