Dome Theatre


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


Opened:
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 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.


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    Card Cow   

www.cardcow.com


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

Card Cow has a superb selection of Southern California
cards from many different periods. Go browsing!




    L. A. Public Library Collection   

www.lapl.org

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 dome marquee and entrance
 discovered by crack researcher Ken McIntyre.
full size view



    Santa Monica Library Collection   

digital.smpl.org/cdm/#.USJ8MYXd5yQ


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



    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History   

www.westland.net/venicehistory



A view of the old Dome when it was still a
 dance hall on Jeffrey Stanton's great site.
  larger view

Also on the site:
| 1923 view of the dome  |  dome facade  |
 |  1920 view - looking south  |  1920 view - from out on the pier  |

Also see his map of the piers in 1923. 

And don't miss his 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).





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.










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: 2213

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.


A look at the marquee from "Final Curtain."



A proscenium view.



A shot of the main chandelier from "Final Curtain."


Status: The Dome Theatre closed for the remodel of the pier area into Pacific Ocean Park in 1958. 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.

    American Classic Images    

www.americanclassicimages.com



A view of the Dome Theatre that was on the
vanished website
American Classic Images.
full size view

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

Dome Theatre  |


    L. A. Public Library Collection   

www.lapl.org



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

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 -- 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

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


    Motion Picture News    

archive.org/search.php


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   

facebook.com/groups/244565982234863


A wonderful postcard view discovered
by Ken McIntyre.
full size view



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

buy the book:
  | AmazonGoogle 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.

Theatre researcher Ken McIntyre has
 the photo on his 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 FB/LAtheatres



The stagehouse portion of the panorama. Ken
McIntyre has it on on Photos of Los Angeles. It's also
 in Ken's Photobucket album.  And there's also a very
nice cropped version with higher resolution
on Photos of Los Angeles.


    Santa Monica Library Collection   

digital.smpl.org/cdm/#.USJ8MYXd5yQ


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
new
Dome Theatre. The photographer
was Adelbert Bartlett. 

full size view




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

Also in the collection:
 | another late 20s view - looking south |
| 1930 view - rear - theatre is on the right  |
| 1965 view - looking south toward the Dome  |


    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History   




Jeffrey Stanton's great site has this 1958 view
 of the new Dome Theatre's stagehouse re-purposed
 for the POP Magic Carpet Ride.
 full size view

Another view in the LAPL collection:
Dome stagehouse  |


    UCLA - Changing Times Archives   

http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/dlib/lat



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

This photo also appears
on Photos of Los Angeles.


    Vintage Los Angeles   

www.facebook.com/pages/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



Along the west side of the Dome Theatre in
1957. The photo was added to Vintage
 Los Angeles by Maurice Ideses.
full size view