Highland Theatre

5604 N. Figueroa St.  
  | map |

Los Angeles
, CA 90042

(323) 256-6383

Website: www.highlandtheatres.com

Opened: March 5, 1925 with a personal appearance from Norma Shearer. The building was built for Clyde M. Church, a local banker.

Highland Park was once a thriving part of town with a vibrant theatrical life and supported six theatres. Other nearby venues included the York Theatre and the Sunbeam. See our Theatres North of Downtown page for more listings.

The opening program. It's in the collection of the family
owning the building, who brought it to display at the November
 2015 LAHTF tour. Thanks to Stephen Russo for the photo.
 full size view | on the LAHTF Facebook page

Architect: Lewis A. Smith, who also did the Rialto in South Pasadena, the Beverly in Beverly Hills, the Vista Theatre as well as a number of projects for Fox West Coast such as the El Portal and the Fox Ritz.

The Highland had a Moorish interior and much of the decor in the balcony area remains intact.

Seating: Originally 1,432 seats as a single screen theatre.

Status: Times have been tough the last few decades in Highland park but this theatre survives by running a friendly, efficient operation and offering bargain prices.

History:  It was operated for years by Fox West Coast Theatres. After they gave it up it had a run as a porno theatre. Family films came back in 1975 under owner Arman Akarakian. In 1983 it was cheaply triplexed with 3 theatres on the main floor. The balcony is used just for storage. It's been designated a cultural historic monument by the City of Los Angeles.

Still missing: Vintage photos of the interior.

The Highland in the Movies:

The Highland has never been much of a movie star but
we see the marquee as John C. Reilly does a nighttime
drive-by in "Cyrus" (Fox Searchlight, 2010). The film, directed
 by Jay and Mark Duplass, also features Marissa Tomei
and Jonah Hill. Thanks to Films In Films for the
screenshot that appears on their website.
 full size view

We get a look at the Highland in "Lights Out" (New Line/Warner
Bros., 2016). It's a story about a supernatural being that threatens
a family when (are you ready?) the lights go out. The film, directed
by David F. Sandberg, stars Teresa Palmer and Gabriel Bateman.
Thanks to Jonathan Raines for spotting this one!

We spend a lot of time in Highland Park with Amanda Seyfried and
Shirley MacLaine in Mark Pellington's "The Last Word" (Bleeker
Street Media, 2017). The neighborhood is standing in
for a California town called Bristol.

Amanda's an obituary writer at the local paper, the Bristol
Gazette, and Shirley hires her to write her obit -- only she realizes
that she needs to change her life to get the writeup she wants.
See the Theatres in Movies post for several more shots.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Highland Theatre for all the historic data and tales of former and current moviegoers.  Also see the site's list of other theatre projects by L.A. Smith.

The Cinema Tour page has several nice 2001 exterior photos by Bob Meza.

Highland Park Lights is a blog with information about the neighborhood. See their 2011 story about the project to "Help Re-Light the Historic Signs of Figueroa Street." Also see the story on Highland Park Patch.

Check out Sandi Hemmerlein's Avoiding Regret photo essay "Highland Theatre's Hidden History" for many photos and tales of her adventures at the 2015 LAHTF "all-about" tour of the building.

A 2010 view of the facade.

photo: Bill Counter

    Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation   

www.lahtf.org | group Facebook page | official FB page

The LAHTF is the primary organization actively promoting preservation
of historic theatres in the L.A. area. The group sponsors events, works
 with building owners on preservation issues and hosts tours. These
photos are from the November 2015 LAHTF tour at the Highland.

Pegasus in plaster, evidently with gold leaf
underneath the paint we see. It's a Stephen Russo
photo taken on the stairs up to the balcony.
full size view | on the LAHTF page

Heading up the stairs to the long unused
balcony. Thanks to Nicole Loretta for the photo.
 It's part of her set of 17 views of the adventure.
full size view | on Facebook | her full set

A balcony lobby view from ace theatre photographer
Wendell Benedetti. That wall at the end was added, sealing
 off a staircase. The balcony hasn't been used since the theatre
was triplexed -- all three houses are on the main floor.
Thanks to Stephen Russo for this look across
 the balcony. Note the AC ducting for the theatres
below -- and the walled-off proscenium opening.
full size view | on the LAHTF page

Behind the wall in the view above -- a
proscenium mural photo by Nicole Loretta.
Thanks, Nicole!  It's part of her set of 17 photos.

One of the sidewall murals out in
 front of the balcony rail. Thanks to Wendell
 Benedetti for the photo.
A balcony sidewall detail by Wendell Benedetti.
A closer look at one of those crests over
the balcony side exit doors. Thanks to
Wendell Benedetti for the 2015 photo.
full size view | another crest photo

Another sidewall detail, up toward the ceiling
house right. Thanks to Nicole Loretta for the photo.
full size view | on Facebook

A wide angle vista across the balcony as it appears
in 2015. It's a Wendell Benedetti photo.
full size view | on the LAHTF page

An imagining by Mr. Benedetti of what the house
could have looked like before the triplexing. He's borrowed
some elements near the proscenium from photos of the South
Pasadena Rialto, by the same architect, L.A. Smith
full size view | on the LAHTF page

The view down from the top of the balcony.
It's a Wendell Benedetti photo.
The basement dressing room
corridor. It's a Nicole Loretta photo.
full size view | on Facebook

Looking up onto stage right. Thanks
to Nicole Loretta for the photo.
full size view | on Facebook

A Wendell Benedetti shot of the
dimmerboard backstage right.
A detail of the 1926 rigging installation.
 It's Wendell Benedetti photo.
full size view | on the LAHTF page

More 2015 photos from the LAHTF:
| set of 7 views - Wendell Benedetti |
| set of 17 photos - Nicole Loretta |

Also see Sandi Hemmerlein's Avoiding Regret photo essay
"Highland Theatre's Hidden History" for many photos of her
adventures at the 2015 LAHTF "all-about" tour of the building.

A view of the Highland Theatre roof sign in 2010.

photo: Bill Counter

[ click on these photos to enlarge ]

The roof sign the evening of its relighting.

photo: Escott Norton - May 18, 2011

The view is one of 19 in the
 "Highland Theatre Sign Lighting Ceremony"
album on Escott Norton's Facebook page Old Sign Art.

Each of the 502 bulbs on the sign was sponsored
by an individual as a community project.

The entrance to the Highland Theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

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    American Classic Images    


A 1982 view in the American Classic
Images collection.
full size view

Also in the collection:
| 1984 view |

    Arroyo Seco Journal   


See Edward Rivera's delightful 5 minute slide show
 "20 Theatres of Northeast Los Angeles." We get photos
of 20 theatres in the northeast area of the city. The Highland
is the only one still operating. 

Also on the blog:

 | "Relighting the Highland" - 2011 |
 | "Highland Theatre Sign Relighting" - 2011 |

    The Eastsider  L.A.  


A 1962 look at the Highland, in a photo from the Highland
Park Independent Film Festival. The photo appeared with a
2015 article by Nathan Solis: "Highland Theatre celebrates
90 years of movie-going in Highland Park"

full size view | the Eastsider article

A look toward the rear of one of the auditoriums
on the main floor by Gina Christine. The photo was taken
during the 2012 Northeast L.A. Art Short Film Series.
full size view | on FB/LATheatres

The photo also appears as part of a story
on the blog The Eastsider about the 2012
Northeast L.A. Art Short Film Series

An uncredited shot toward
the front of the auditorium.
full size view

    Highland Park Independent Film Festival    


hpifilmfest.com | hpifilmfest.com/photo-gallery

A vintage look at the Highland's ladies
lounge from the HPIFF Facebook page.
full size view
| on the HPIFF page

    LA Okay   

A nice view of the facade from the site LA Okay.
Note that since the photo these sign faces got
replaced with a newer look.
 larger view

    Ken McIntyre on Photobucket   

A great view of the side of the building by
Cinema Treasures researcher Ken McIntyre.
full size view

Also by Ken:
 | facade  | building from the north |
 | entrance | marquee | sidewall near the front |
 | another sidewall view |

    Photos of Los Angeles    

A 1955 look south on Figueroa with the
Highland Theatre on the left.  It's in Ken McIntyre's
great collection on Facebook.
full size view

A detail from the image above.
larger view

An undated shot of the Highland from
the south from Ken McIntyre.
full size view | on FB/LAtheatres

Also on Photos of Los Angeles:
  |  2008 facade view  |  2008 sidewall view



The lobby of the Highland.
It's a photo by Ivan A.
full size view

One of the 3 main floor auditoria -- a photo
by Tom P. The balcony is unused.
full size view

Tom P.'s look back toward the booth of
one of the three main floor theatres. Note
the front of the balcony visible.
 full size view