Art Theatre

2025 E. 4th St.    | map |

Long Beach, CA   90814

(562) 438-5435

Website: | on Facebook

Opened: In 1924 as the Carter Theatre with a somewhat oriental theme. The owner was a Mr. J.W. Carter.

Architect:  Original architect is unknown. 

Seating: 636 originally.

Architects Schilling & Schilling did a deco style remodel after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. Upon reopening, it was called the Lee Theatre after the owner E.H. Lee.

After a 1947 remodeling, it was renamed the Art Theatre. The 1947 work included a marquee restyling by architect Hugh Gibbs. The owner at the time was Milton Arthur. Was he calling it the Art for short?

And then there's the Boxoffice magazine article of 1950 cited on Cinema Treasures noting that the theatre was then owned by another Art,  Art J. Thomas.

Status: Alive and well. It's an independently owned theatre running art house type fare. The Art Theatre is the only historic theatre still operating in Long Beach.

It had a $1 million dollar makeover in 2008 which included the addition of a coffee bar and wine bar in the lobby. The work was done with reference to 1933 blueprints and included exterior restoration, new signage and an upgrade of projection and sound systems. It's truly a gem!

The Art Theatre on Video: See the 6 minute 2008 video "Art Theatre of Long Beach" featuring Jan Van Dijs, one of the developers of the project, discussing the renovation.

More Information:
Cinema Tour has 24 exterior and lobby photos from Ron Pierce and Bob Meza on their page devoted to the theatre.

See the Cinema Treasures page for many stories as well as links to additional photos. Joe Vogel has done his usual impressive research work tracking the theatre's name changes and ownership.

Other Art Theatres: Downtown L.A. had two, neither related to this one in Long Beach. See our listings for the Art Theatre on Main and a more short-lived La Petite / Art Theatre on Broadway.

A sign detail

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009

A great view showing the new signage at night.

photo: Mark Peacock - 2010

See Mark's Vintage Theatres photo set for a
full size view along with lots more great work.

Visit Mark's blog "On the Road With Mark Peacock."
Thanks, Mark!

    Art Theatre Website

A view of the auditorium on the
Art Theatre's website.
full size view

A proscenium closeup.
full size view 

Also on the site:
| exterior view at dusk  |  wine bar |

The Art Theatre's website also has a brief history
 of the building on the site's "About the Theatre" page.

     Ralph Combs on Flickr

A lovely 2009 view looking east
by Ralph Combs. 

    Explore Long Beach with Meetup

A view of the booth gear from the post about the
 group's "Meetup" for a 2009 showing of
 "Waltz with Bashir @ Art Theatre." 
larger view

Also in the set:
  | lobby viewanother lobby view |
| auditorium seating


An artily canted view of the old neon on
the Art vertical in an
LAist story from 2007:
The Real Punk Lives of Orange County," a
 tale about filming a documentary at the theatre.

 larger view

    Midnight Insanity   

A view of the pre-renovation neon formerly on
 Midnight Insanity's website. The group used to
present "Rocky Horror" at the Art Theatre.
full size view


A nice view looking west in October
1973 added to the site by Loren Sauer.
 full size view

A 2005 view of the Art Theatre
 vertical by K. Safer.

full size view

A view of the Art Theatre before the restoration.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007

[ click on these images to enlarge ]

A view after the loving restoration.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009

A view of the signage from the west.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009

The boxoffice after restoration.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2009

These views by Michelle are part of her "Theatres - California"
set on Flicker. Also see her "Theatre" page on Flickr for a
 listing of other sets containing more great work.
Thanks, Michelle!

about photos from other
websites that appear on this page...

We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please 
contact us if there are incorrect attributions, links that 
no longer work or other issues. A link near each image will 
direct you to a full size version on the website hosting it. 
Assume that all the images are subject to copyright 
restrictions.  Contact the webmaster of the site in
question concerning reproduction or other use. 

     Cal State Dominguez Hills

The Art Theatre's facade during a 1969 fire.
The photo is from the CSUDH Long Beach Firemen's
 Historical Museum Photographs Collection.

The auditorium after the 1969 fire. 

Also from the 1969 set:


A look at the original facade of the Art when it was
 still the Carter Theatre. Super sleuth Michelle Gerdes
 found it on eBay. A Gloria Swanson film is playing.
full size view |
on FB/LATheatres

    Jeff Gritchen - SoCal Seen

A 2008 view by Jeff Gritchen on a post called
Artsy Fartsy." The new sign is being installed
 by Michan Sign Co.

larger view

The photo was a post on the
Long Beach Seen blog Jeff Gritchen was doing while
he was working for the Long Beach Press Telegram,
where he was a staff photographer.

Jeff's blog continues, now with a wider focus
 than just Long Beach, as So Cal Seen.

    L.A. Public Library Collection

A 1947 view of the exterior in
the Library's collection.
full size view

    Roadside Architecture

A pre-renovation look at the Art Theatre's
boxoffice in Debra Jane's
collection. It's on page
 6 of her
California Theatres set. 
full size view

Also in her collection:
| facade | vertical sign detail |

    Viajante on Flickr

A 2009 night view by Viajante. 
It's part of his "Long Beach" set.
On Flickr: full size view

Also see:
 | 2008 daytime view  |