Pasadena Grand Opera House

E. Bellevue Dr. at S. Raymond Ave.
[ sw corner ]  
| map |

Pasadena, CA   91105

Opened: February 13, 1889

Seating: Originally 1,500 -- 900 on the main floor and 600 in the balcony.  Later capacity was advertised as 1,000.

Architect: Unknown. One source mentions that the designers of the Grand Opera House on Main St. in downtown Los Angeles were also involved here. They were Ezra F. Kysor and Octavius Morgan.

The Grand Opera House Company was formed in 1887 by E. C. Webster, Senator L. J. Rose, F. M. Ward, and Roscoe Thomas. Already by 1890 the place was in trouble with declining attendance, complaints about lack of heat and concerns about being too far from the center of town.  By 1891 the operating company was bankrupt.

The venture was bought by Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe in 1891. The theatre got remodeled (including a new heating system) and he also had an office set up on the first floor for sale of tickets to his Mt. Lowe Scenic Railway. Lowe was also in the utility business and the Lowe Gas and Electric Light Co. had an appliance showroom in the building. 

Lowe's son Thad managed the Opera House. In the 1906-1907 edition of Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide it's listed as the Lowe Opera House. In the 1910 Pasadena section of the Los Angeles phone book it's listed as "Opera House, Bellevue & Raymond."

Lowe had many financial reverses and eventually lost the building to foreclosure. It then had a number of different owners and was at one point called the Auditorium, featuring hotel accommodations and a restaurant.

Status: Closing date as a theatre is unknown. It was demolished sometime around 1926. The Royal Laundry building is now on the site.

More on the Opera House: See a nice history of the Opera House by Jake Brouwer that includes a discussion of performances at the venue and several drawings.

More on Mt. Lowe and Mr. Lowe: Head to the Google books previews of two Arcadia Publishing titles: "Mount Lowe" and "Mt. Lowe Railway."  See the Mt. Lowe Preservation Society site and the Mt. Lowe History page for more about Mr. Lowe.

More on the Cycleway:  The first (and only) segment opened in 1900. In Pasadena the cycleway's path was from the Green Hotel south to Glenarm between Raymond and Fair Oaks Avenue. It was to then go down the arroyo, past Highland Park and on into downtown Los Angeles. It only got built as far as South Pasadena.

See a post on p.136 of Noirish Los Angeles about the Pasadena Cycleway that features a view from the Pasadena Museum of History. Also see Wikipedia's artcle on the Cycleway.

In addition to the view shown on this page of the cycleway going behind the Opera House, see another cycleway view from the LAPL.

    California State Library   

A c.1893 view of the facade
of the Grand Opera House.
full size view | data page

Also in the collection:
| 1983 Pasadena map - with building drawings  |

    Echo Mtn. Echoes

A view of the Opera House with Jake
Brouwer's article on the Spring 1997 page. 
larger view

See Jake's complete article
on the Opera House.

    L.A. Public Library Collection

An 1889 photo of the Pasadena
Grand Opera House.
 full size view

The same photo, but as a postcard, appears
 in the Pasadena Digital History collection.

An 1890 look at the Opera House's facade. 
full size view

Historic Los Angeles Theatres - The Pasadena  Grand Opera House

A 1902 view of the Opera House
 from the Library's collection.
full size view

The Library's caption reads:
  "Bellevue Drive looking west at Raymond Avenue.
The bridge in the foreground is a section of the Dobbins
Cycleway, a visionary project to link Los Angeles with Pasadena,
 built by Horace M. Dobbins. The building at right is the rear
 of the Pasadena Grand Opera House.

Perhaps the caption should say "looking east on Bellevue."
The building's facade was facing Raymond Ave. and we see
the train crossing beyond that is east of Raymond Ave.

The view above also appears several other collections:
Pasadena Digital History Collaboration  |  Wikipedia Commons  |

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  Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide 

The listing from the 1900-1901 edition of
 "Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide."
 Google Books view

The listing in the 1906-1907 edition.
Click to enlarge or head to a Google Books view

  Henry's Western Theatrical Guide 

A listing from Henry's Official Western Theatrical Guide from 1907-1908.
Click to enlarge or head to a Google Books view

    K. Vanderschult on Amazon

A flyer for the Opera House for sale on Amazon.
view Amazon listing

A close-up of the date line: May 18 and 19, 1893. 
Click on it for a larger view.

    Pasadena Digital History Collaboration

A look at the Grand Opera House in 1900.
full size view

Also in the collection:
| 1889 postcard