Wardman Theatre / Whittier Village Cinemas


7038 Greenleaf Ave.
(@ Wardman St.)   | map

Whittier, CA 90601

562-907-3300

Website: starlightcinemas.com | whittiervillagecinemas.com | classics |

Opened: 1931 as the Wardman Theatre

Architect: David S. Bushnell

Seating: 952 originally as a single screen theatre.

Cinema Treasures contributor Ron Pierce discusses the opening:

"A news account in 1931 reported that architect David S. Bushnell was preparing plans for a theater, costing $90,000, seating 1,000 and to be leased to a theater chain. Because of the depression, according to the Whittier Historical Society, the lease was broken and the owner, Aubrey Wardman, ended up operating the theater with the architect serving as the manager."    Thanks, Ron!

Greenleaf got renumbered at some distant time. The address is listed variously as 132 1/2, 132 and 160 S. Greenleaf Ave. in early directories.

In the 50s it was part of the Bruen chain. Hugh W. Bruen also ran the Whittier Theatre, the Roxy and the Sundowner Drive-In.

Pacific Theatres as well as Century Theatres operated the Wardman in the 70s. Vincent Miranda's Pussycat Theatre chain bought the theatre from Pacific in 1977. The city fathers tried to convinvce him to turn it into a four-plex and run Hollywood product. The theatre (then still a single screen) took a hit with the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake and closed as a result of damage.

Now, with an addition, it's Whittier Village Cinemas, an 8 screen multplex operated by Starlight Cinemas. The original auditorium has been divided in two. In a later renovation stadium seating was installed. The former snackbar area and the rear of the main floor (now a space under the stadium seating) has become a game room.

Evidently some of the original decor still exists in unused spaces upstairs, including several restrooms and a room with Egyptian themed decor. The staircase to upstairs was near the now-vanished snackbar.

More information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Whittier Village Cinemas for some good research. The Cinema Tour page has ten 2004 exterior photos.



The front of the marquee.

photo: Don Solosan - Los Angeles
Historic Theatre Foundation - c.2009

www.lahtf.org | LAHTF on Facebook




A look at the entrance.

photo: Don Solosan - Los Angeles
Historic Theatre Foundation - c.2009



A closer look at the boxoffice.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009



A terrazzo detail.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009

These two photos are in Michelle's Theatres- California
 set on Flickr. See her full collection for many more photos
organized in sets for individual theatres she's visited. 

Thanks, Michelle!



The deco facade of the Whittier Village cinemas.

photo: Don Solosan - Los Angeles
Historic Theatre Foundation - c.2009



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    Los Angeles Public Library   

www.lapl.org


A 1989 look at the theatre after its Pussycat
days. Here it was closed for earthquake repairs.
The photo is from the Herald Examiner collection.




    Whittier Public Library    

 cityofwhittier.org/depts/library | digital archives


A 1976 panorama (STR-058b) from the Whittier City Clerk -
Treasurer Department showing Greenleaf Ave. It's a nice look at
what was on the block before the theatre's redevelopment
and expansion. That's Wardman St. on the right.
 full size view



A detail of the theatre entrance
from the panorama above.



The Wardman Theatre in 1937 giving
away money on Tuesday nights.

photo: Whittier Historical Society.


Thanks to Deysi Flores at the
WHS for finding the photo!

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]


The Wardman in the 70s when it
was operated by Century Theatres.

photo: Steven Otto

Note "Century Theatre" on the end
of the marquee.  Thanks, Steven!



The lovely deco facade of the Whittier Village Cinemas

photo: Google Maps - 2011

Click on any of these images for a larger view or
head to Google for the current interactive version.



An entrance detail from the view above.




At Wardman St. looking north along Greenleaf across
the new addition toward the original building.

photo: Google Maps - 2011



An alley view looking behind the building
looking toward Wardman St.

Google Maps - 2012

The corner nearest us is the original auditorium.
Click to enlarge or go to the interactive view.



Into the lobby.

photo: Don Solosan - Los Angeles
Historic Theatre Foundation - c.2009




    American Classic Images    

americanclassicimages.com


A 1983 Wardman photo in the American
Classic Images collection.
full size view




    Yelp   

Yelp.com


A night neon view by Trixxa B.
The photo above also appears (uncredited) as #32 on a list of 50
movie palaces in
a May 2016 Paste Magazine article by Whitney Brandt
"American Movie Palaces: 50 Living Relics of U.S. Film History."
Evidently nobody told him it had been multiplexed
with no historic elements left inside.



An lovely soffit shot by Kat J.
One of the auditoria with the
 new stadium seating.
Yelp's page on the Whittier Village Cinemas had
45 shots in their photo album at last look.