Dome Theatre

There were two Dome locations -- scroll
down a bit for the post-1925 version.

The Original Dome Theatre:  1922-1924
14 Ocean Front Walk    | map
Venice, CA  90291

The first Dome Theatre was originally a dance hall that had opened on July 4, 1916. The building was constructed on the Great Western pier at Ocean Front Walk.

The location at the northwest corner of Ocean Front Walk and Navy Ave. is just south of the Santa Monica city limits. In the 1923-24 directory it's listed as 3034 Ocean Front Promenade, Venice.

Head to Jeffrey Stanton's nice map of the Pickering/Lick Piers - 1923. The original Dome Theatre is #21 on the map.  Also see his article on the "Fraser / Pickering / Lick Piers (1913-1924)."

The main space was a 100 foot concrete dome. It was converted into a theatre in 1922 when the Lick Pier was constructed. 

The Lick Pier was constructed seaward of the dance hall and thus just south of the Fraser/Pickering Pier (aka Ocean Park Pier) that was the original location of the Rosemary Theatre.

The Dome in the Movies:

The Harold Lloyd two-reeler "Number, Please?" (Hal Roach/
Pathe, 1920) has this shot looking north toward the Ocean Park/
Pickering Pier. We've got the Rosemary/Rialto at the center and, at
the far right, a slice of the Dome -- here still a dance hall. Note the
 "dancing" sign and, on the dome itself, a bit of the letter "D."
 larger view

The film gives us an intercut mix of great amusement-area
 views from Venice, Ocean Park and The Pike at Long Beach.
See our Theatres In Movies post about "Number, Please?"
for more shots with the California/Venice Theatre, the Strand
 in Long Beach and the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.

The Demise: Demolished after a fire on January 6, 1924. The building was a total loss except for the entrance portion of the structure. This was used with a new building behind and became the new Rosemary Theatre. See that page for views of the old Dome facade after the rebuilding.

In addition to the Dome Theatre, the fire consumed the adjacent Ocean Park and Lick Piers.

    L. A. Public Library Collection

A closeup view of the Dome signage in 1923.
 The show playing is Priscilla Dean in "White Tiger."
 full size view

A great view of the 1st Dome Theatre burning in 1924.
  full size view

The 1924 fire destroying the original Dome Theatre.
It's a photo from George Hermann's PhotoArt Studios
 in the Herald Examiner collection.
 full size view

Also in the collection:
| early 20s postcard  | dome after 1924 fire |

    Ken McIntyre on Photobucket   

 A 1922 view of the first Dome Theatre's marquee and
entrance discovered by crack researcher Ken McIntyre.
full size view | on Photobucket

The New Dome Theatre:  1925 and after
3014 Ocean Front Promenade  
Santa Monica, CA   90405

Opened: 1925 West Coast Theatres and the Venice Investment Co. acquired the assets of the Pickering and Lick Pier Pier operating company two weeks after the 1924 fire. After difficult negotiations with the city of Santa Monica, they rebuilt the pier including a new Dome Theatre.

See Jeffrey Stanton's Ocean Park - LIck Piers -1929 map. The new Dome Theatre building is #2 on the map.  Also see his article on the "Ocean Park Pier (1926-1956)."  The new Dome Theatre was just a few doors north of the original location.

West Coast Theatres operated the new Dome Theatre. After West Coast was acquired by Fox, the theatre was advertised as the Fox Dome Theatre.

Note that the prominent decorative dome in the new construction is not the theatre, but the entrance to Ocean Park Pier. The theatre itself was just to the south of the dome.

The address was listed as 3004 Ocean Front Promenade in the 1927 city directory.  In the 1940 city directory it's listed as 3012 Ocean Front Promenade. It's at 3012 in the 1954 directory. In any case, it was just north of Marine Avenue.

The Dome's place in history is assured as it is the theatre where the Mickey Mouse Club fad began there in 1929. It was part of a matinee promotion by manager Harry Woodin.

This flyer from a post on the blog Disney Detail
 is advertising the first Mickey Mouse Club.
full size view

See Mickey Masks for a fun discussion of the clubs and a great photo (at an unknown theatre) of an audience with Mickey Mouse masks. Thanks to David Zornig for lots of fine research on Photos of Los Angeles.

Architect: Clifford A. Balch. See our Blogspot posts for more by Mr. Balch.

Seating: 2,213

The Dome in the Movies:

The exterior of the theatre appears in Norman Foster's
 "Woman on the Run" (Universal-International,1950). Although
set in San Francisco, the amusement park sequences at the end
were filmed in Ocean Park. We also see the Star Theatre during
a walk out on the pier. The screenshot is from Reel SF, where the
film's locations are discussed.
larger view

Here we're on Ocean Front Walk with Mickey Rooney and
Barbara Bates in Irving Pichel's "Quicksand."  The film also
features Peter Lorre and, as the femme fatale ruining Mickey's
life, Jeanne Cagney (United Artists, 1950).
 larger view

We're looking south. It's the Dome marquee in the foreground
with the vertical sign of the Rosemary Theatre visible beyond.

Another view from "Quicksand" looking east toward
Ocean Front Walk alongside the Dome Theatre. That's the
stagehouse rising up at the center of the photo. The dome
straight ahead marked the pier's entrance.
larger view

See Jeffrey Stanton's great "Movie Making in Venice and Ocean Park" web page for a full list of movie action on the beach.

The Dome on TV: Cezar Del Valle notes that the Dome is featured in the 1957 Ed Wood pilot "Final Curtain."  It's available for viewing on YouTube.  There are some theatre interior views as well, but the were shot at the Forum Theatre on Pico Blvd. See the Theatres In Movies post for two of them.

A look at the marquee from "Final Curtain."

Status: The Dome Theatre closed for the remodel of the pier area into Pacific Ocean Park in 1957. The Dome Theatre building was used for the Flying Carpet ride. The park closed in 1967 and the building was later demolished. 

The City of Santa Monica was embarking on an urban renewal program even before Pacific Ocean Park closed and no traces of the Ocean Park amusement area remain.

More Information:

See the Cinema Treasures page on the Dome Theatre.  The Water and Power Associates DWP museum pages have a fine series of photos of Santa Monica. See "Early Views of Santa Monica page 1" and Early Views of Santa Monica page 2."

See our Venice and Ocean Park Theatres page for information on other theatres in the area as well as other Venice and Ocean Park history resources.

See our Wilshire Blvd. Theatres site for lots of information on Santa Monica theatres in the downtown area.

    Motion Picture News

On the Internet Archive is the Motion Picture News
issue of December 28, 1929. Section Two is the
"Theatre Building and Equipment Buyers Guide"
with the Dome on a page featuring photos of
 Fox West Coast theatres that had been
decorated by Robert E. Powers Studios.
the page | larger view on blogspot

The photo above also appears in the February 18,
1928 Motion Picture News issue with a story
 "Theatre Decoration and Stage Equipment"
about the Powers studios.

    Photos of Los Angeles

A wonderful postcard view discovered
by Ken McIntyre.
full size view | on FB/LA Theatres

Here's the sad fate of the Dome Theatre during its POP
days. We're out on the pier. Over on the right, we see the
north side of the theatre building re-purposed as the Magic
Carpet Ride. Straight ahead is the ornate dome (here
painted orange) that once marked the pier's entrance. 
full size view

    Santa Monica Bay   

Paradise by the Sea
by Fred E. Basten, introduction by Carolyn See
General Publishing Group, Los Angeles, 1997
Hennessey and Ingalls, Santa Monica 2001
ISBN: 9780940512306
  | on Amazon | Google book overview  |

A portion of a post 1925 panoramic view from the south.
 The near theatre (with the large "THEATRE" on the side) is
the new Rosemary Theatre-- you can also see its vertical
sign (on the old Dome facade).  The new Dome Theatre is
 just beyond. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this version.
full size view | in Ken's Photobucket album

A higher resolution look at a portion of the photo
above looking north on the Promenade. We get a
bit farther right than in the segment above.
 Ken has it on Photos of Los Angeles.
full size view | on Photos of Los Angeles

The stagehouse portion of the panorama.
full size view | on Photos of Los Angeles

Ken McIntyre has also has this lower one in a
Photobucket album.  And there's also a very nice
cropped version with higher resolution
on Photos of Los Angeles.

    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History   

Jeffrey Stanton's site once had this 1958 view
 of the new Dome Theatre's stagehouse re-purposed
 for the POP Magic Carpet Ride.
 slightly larger view

Another view in the LAPL collection:
| Dome stagehouse |

    UCLA - L.A. Times Collection |

A c.1932 floral parade along the Ocean Park
Promenade.We're looking south with the Dome
Theatre at the upper center.  
full size view | on Photos of Los Angeles

    Vintage Los Angeles

A delightful 1930 view giving us a good look at the
signage as we look south along the Promenade. 
It's not known what archive the photo came from.
full size view

A 1953 look north toward the dome atop the
pier's entrance. The Dome Theatre is the building
 at the right. Will Markland added the photo
to the Vintage Los Angeles collection.
 full size view | on FB/LATheatres

    Card Cow

An early view of the Dome entrance -- before the
 "dome" itself was built. Note the "dancing" sign.
 full size view

    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History

A view south of the Pickering Pier
along Ocean Front Walk in 1920.
A 1920 view of the Dome (as a
dance hall) from out on the pier.

A 1921 view of the old Dome when it was still a
dance hall. The photo once was on Jeffrey Stanton's great
 site. He had noted that the roof was reinforced concrete.
  larger view

The conversion to a movie theatre was
in 1922 when the Lick Pier was built.

Don't miss Mr. Stanton's 1923 map of the piers and
the Movie Making in Venice and Ocean Park  section. 
For more early history of the piers, see Mr. Stanton's
 Fraser / Pickering / Lick Piers (1913-1924).

    Santa Monica Public Library Collection

A 1916 view toward the Pickering Pleasure Pier
 and the original Dome Theatre building, in the upper
 right of the photo. The photographer was
Kenneth Strickfaden.
 full size view

These views are from the Library's
Imagine Santa Monica collection.

A view of the Dome after the 1924 fire in
a photo by Kenneth Strickfaden.
 full size view

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    American Classic Images

A view of the 2nd Dome Theatre from
the website
American Classic Images.
full size view

Another version of this photo shows up in the
Flickr album of Frank The Prospector.

full size view | on Flickr

    L. A. Public Library Collection

A 1925 photo of the newly completed Dome Theatre
with signage advertising Orpheum vaudeville on the
weekends. The big dome straddled the entrance to the
 pier and was not part of the theatre itself.
 full size view

A 1938 look at the marquee of the Dome Theatre.
full size view

A 40s view by Ansel Adams
in the Library's collection.
  full size view

Another Ansel Adams photo.
full size view

A look toward the rear of the
house in the 2nd Dome Theatre. 
full size view

Along the west side of the Dome Theatre in 1957.
full size view

Thanks to Maurice Ideses for finding the photo
above and posting it on Vintage Los Angeles.

An undated view (60s?) of the dome.
The theatre is off to the left.
  full size view

Also in the collection:
 | beauty contest parade - 30s | another 40s view south - Ansel Adams |
 | another view south -- on a busy day - Herman Schultheis |
| vertical sign detail -  Schultheis | dome view - north at pier entrance - 1961 |
| wrecking ball at pier entrance - 1969 - Herald Examiner |

    Ken McIntyre on Photobucket   

A great undated photo of the pier entrance
 and  Dome Theatre signage from intrepid
 Cinema Treasures researcher Ken McIntyre.
full size view | on Photobucket

Ken also has a version of this
 one on Photos of Los Angeles.

    Santa Monica Public Library Collection

A late 20s view looking south toward the new
 Dome Theatre in an Adelbert Bartlett photo. 
full size view

These views are from the Library's
Imagine Santa Monica collection.

A 1930 view of the new Rosemary (using the

old Dome entrance)
and, just beyond, the
Dome Theatre. The photographer
was Adelbert Bartlett. 

full size view

A 1930 Adelbert Bartlett view of
the new Dome Theatre sign. 
full size view

The Dome's vertical sign getting disassembled
in 1957. The photo is a donation to the Library
 from the Osterhout Family Collection.
full size view | on the SMPL site

A 1957 lobby view with the area being used as a
 workspace for Pacific Ocean Park planners. It's a
photo from the Osterhout Family Collection.
full size view | on the SMPL site

A 1957 view from the stage of the doomed theatre.
It's a photo from the Osterhout Family Collection.
full size view | on the SMPL site

Thanks to Michael Hayashi for finding the photo above and posting
 it on the
Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page.

A main floor view in 1957 as the seats are getting
 removed. It's an Osterhout Family Collection photo.
full size view | on the SMPL site

The view toward the stage in 1957. Note
the Skouras style "upgrades." It's a photo
from the Osterhout Family Collection.
full size view | on the SMPL site

A 1957 view across the balcony as the building is being gutted
to become the Pacific Ocean Park "Flying Carpet" ride. It's
a photo from the Osterhout Family Collection.
Thanks to Chrys Atwood for finding the photo above and posting
 it on the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page.

Also in the SMPL collection:
 | another late 20s view - looking south | 1930 view - rear - theatre is on the right |
| 1965 view - looking south toward the Dome | 1957 - back toward the booth |
| 1957 - another lobby view | 1957 - another vertical disassembly view |
| 1957 - construction fence up |