Raymond Theatre

129 N. Raymond Ave.    | map |

Pasadena, CA   91103

Opened: April 5, 1921 by Henry Christian Jensen as Jensen's Raymond Theatre.  The opening attraction was Wallace Reid in "The Love Special."

Henry C. Jensen was a German immigrant brick maker. His firm, Henry C. Jenson & Sons, evolved into builders and building operators. The Jensen Theatre Corporation was formed by Jensen and other prominent Pasadena investors to construct and operate the theatre.

In addition to the Raymond they had Jensen's Recreation Center on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park, Jensen's Melrose Theatre and the Palace Grand Theatre in Glendale.

Architect:  John Cyril Bennett.  After the Raymond was completed, he became part of the firm of Bergstrom, Bennett and Haskell. The firm would go on to design the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.  One interesting design feature in the Raymond was a long curving ramp to reach the balcony.  The booth was at the rear of the main floor.

Seating: 1,996 -- Pasadena's largest film and vaudeville theatre. The capacity was listed as 2,350 in newspaper accounts of the opening.

History: Fox West Coast was operating the building by the early 30s and shuttered the house in 1933. The building became the Crown Theatre in 1948 after a sale to the Crown Holding Corporation. The reopening was February 13. It was operated by Loew's for a spell as Loew's Crown.

In the 1970s the building was acquired by Bruce Barkis and was given some renovation under his tenure. Under the Barkis management the venue was still a movie theatre but with occasional live shows. In 1974 the theatre was running "Deep Throat."

The building was purchased by Marc and Jim Perkins in 1978 and opened in early 1980 as the rock venue Perkins Palace. The Perkins Palace venture closed in 1984, reopened in 1987 and closed for good in 1989. Concert promoter Gina Zamparelli was the manager of the building at the time of its closure and later spearheaded a long preservation effort.

After some renovations, the theatre had one more concert venue fling as The Raymond with another operator, restaurateur Gary Folgner.  It then went dark in 1991. Gene and Marilyn Buchanan had purchased the building in 1985. It was sold to Folgner in 1989 and the Buchanans had it back by 1991.

Status: The entry and much of the main floor has been restored. The theatre is now part of a condo and retail project conceived by owners Gene and Marilyn Buchanan.

There was considerable community opposition to chopping up the space but the owners weren't convinced that it was viable as a 1,500 seat theatrical venue. Many offers to sell the building (including one for $3.5 million) were rebuffed by the owners.

The complex is now called the Raymond Ranaissance.  Nine office/condo units occupy the former balcony area and spaces above. The stagehouse has been converted to 11 luxury lofts.  There is evidently an attempt to use what's left of the theatre as an events space. Or rent it to a restaurant.

The rear of the main floor space (11,000 s.f.) is projected to house a single retail or restaurant tenant. The front half of the main floor has had finishes restored and is now an open atrium for the project.  A new retail and 28 unit condo building annex was constructed to the south of the original theatre building.

The Raymond in the Movies:

Although the Raymond was the venue for most of the
concert scenes in Rob Reiner's "This is Spinal Tap" (Embassy
Pictures, 1984), we never get any good views of the theatre.
Here's a shot from the beginning looking offstage right. 
larger view

A bit of a look at the auditorium sidewall in "Spinal Tap."
larger view

several more shots of the Raymond from "Spinal Tap."

One location for shooting Penelope Spheeris' documentary
"The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years"
(New Line Cinema, 1988) was the Raymond. Thanks to
Jonathan Raines for the advice on this one.

The Raymond exterior was used as the building for Bruce
Willis' boxing match in Quentin Tarantino's  "Pulp Fiction"
(Miramax, 1994). The film also shot scenes in Kendall Alley
 (off of Union Street and Raymond Ave.).
 larger view

"You lost all your L.A. privileges."  See the
Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more about the film.

More information: 

Visit the Cinema Treasures page on the Raymond for lots of historical data, comments and links to photos contributed by Joe Vogel, Ken McIntyre, Gina Zamparelli and others.

Cinema Tour has some exterior views from 2003 and 2004 on its Raymond Theatre page. See Joe Piasecki's 2008 story in Pasadena Weekly: "Reconstructing History" for a nice discussion of the renovation/adaption process. Also see the 2009 Update.

American Classic Images has a 1983 photo.

See Matt Hormann's 2010 Hometown Pasadena story "Remembering Pasadena's Palace of Rock."  It's also on Internet Archive.

Check out the story on the Raymond by Linda Hammonds on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page.

Visit the KC Restoration website's page on the Raymond for a 23 photo "before and after" portfolio.

See Ken McIntyre's post of a 2004 Patrick Weber photo on the Facebook page
Photos of Los Angeles where it has many comments, ads, and other photos appended.

Pacific Coast Architecture Database has more data on architect John Cyril Bennett.

We also have a bit of information on an earlier building called the Crown Theatre at another location in Pasadena.

The view across the lobby toward house right.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

A detail of the plasterwork
on the balcony soffit.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

A detail of the house left organ grill area.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

A sidewall detail.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

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    California State Library   

A 1922 Frederick Martin view of the theatre in the
California State Library collection. We're playing 
"The Love Special" with Wallace Reid
full size view | data page

The photo is also in the Pasadena Museum of
History collection, appearing on the website of
the Pasadena Digital History Collaboration.

    Friends of the Raymond Theatre   

This group organized by Gina Zamparelli waged a
23 year long battle to save the Raymond
Theatre as a performing
arts venue.

These 3 lobby views from the 90s once
appeared on the group's MySpace page.
The photographer was uncredited.

    Amy Higgins - Scenic Artist   


On the Raymond project in 2009 Ms. Higgins used her
amazing skills on plaster restoration, rehabilitating historic
 painted surfaces and advising on other restoration matters.
Here she's working on sidewall surfaces near the stage.
full size view

She worked on the project with KC Restoration
Preservation Arts.
The photo above also appears on the
 KC Restoration Facebook page. Also visit their website's page
on the Raymond for a 23 photo "before and after" portfolio.

A detail view of the center of the sounding board.
full size view

A view of the entry area prior to restoration. Much
of the
plaster had been damaged by renovation
and modernization
efforts over the years. 
full size view

Thanks for the photos, Amy!

See her website, www.amyhiggins.com, for a rundown of
the latest projects she's been working on doing decorative
painting, plaster restoration and more.

    Movie Palaces - Survivors of an Elegant Era   

by Ave Pildas (photos) and Lucinda Smith (text)
Clarkston Potter, 1980
buy on Amazon

A luminous photo
by Ave Pildas of the
Raymond's unusual asbestos
full size view

A detail of the car in the frame. The curtain was paid for by
the Hull Motor Co., the local Hudson and Essex dealers. 

larger view

    Pasadena Weekly   

A nice photo of the proscenium from Pasadena Weekly
by Bettina Monique Chavez. It appeared with Joe Piasecki's
2008 story "Reconstructing History."

Here we see the stage area being framed in for new uses.
Joe's article is a wonderful discussion of the problems
of balancing restoration ideals with financial realities.

A c.1921 look toward the rear of the theatre from a 2005
Pasadena Weekly article "Bringing Down The House" by
Paula Pedrolo
. Note the booth at the rear of the main floor.
slightly larger view

A view up toward the bottom
 of the famous fire curtain.
slightly larger view

    Waltarrr on Flickr   


A 2006 construction view with the south side of the
building exposed. Lofts were built on the corner lot. 
Note the holes in the side wall.
full size view

A 2009 facade view by Waltarrr.

    Patrick Weber on Flickr   


A 2004 view of the facade by Mr. Weber.
 Note the coverings still on the windows from the
theatre's days as the Perkins Palace.
full size view

Also see:
 | another exterior viewPasadena Walking Tour  |

The second exterior view linked above also appears on
BifRayRock's Noirish Los Angeles post #15303 and also on
Photos of Los Angeles as a post of Ken McIntyre where it
has many comments, ads, and other photos appended.

The "Raymond Renaissance" -- ready for a show.

photo: Jonathan Raines - 2016

Thanks, Jonathan! Well, it looks ready on the outside but it's never
going to see a show again. The stage and balcony are now condos.
But they'll rent you the lobby and "atrium" (formerly part of the
auditorium) if you want to open a restaurant or something.

A view of the lovely facade of the Raymond.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

A look at the entrance area.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

A construction view from Google Maps - c.2008.

Click on it to enlarge or head to a current
interactive view on Google.

The photo shows openings cut into the stagehouse for
conversion of the space into condos. The main floor space
of the theatre has had many surfaces restored but is no
 longer usable as a theatrical space --  it is intended
for retail or restaurant use.

Peering into the lobby of the Raymond.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

Another lobby view.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

Looking into the auditorium from the lobby.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

The new doors are at what was the line of the front
of the balcony. The ceiling of area under the balcony is
 unrestored and with a lot of plaster damage.

The filled-in floor and the proscenium.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

That's the original asbestos curtain still in
place. Backstage is now condo units.

Looking across the auditorium.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

A detail of plasterwork at the
top of the sounding board.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

Looking back toward the rear of the house.

photo: Bill Counter - 2013

No, it's not skyboxes. The glassed in areas are office spaces and
residential condos.  The lobby and "atrium" areas was envisioned
as a space for a restaurant tenant, but none has materialized.

    American Demo   

A nice view of main floor slab demo happening at the
Raymond. It's from the company's Raymond page.
larger view

    Creeplord on Flickr   

A 2006 view up into the balcony during the
of the building into a mixed-use project. 
full size view

Also by Creeplord is this view looking offstage right.
 full size view

    Here in Van Nuys on Flickr   

A 2007 look from the stage back into the auditorium.
 full size view

    Huntington Digital Library   


A 1926 view of the Raymond by
Harold A. Parker taken for Walter Weems.
full size view

On the marquee:
 Fanchon & Marco Idea - 30 people, mostly girls
Walter Weems  Senational Arnold Grazer
Romardi's Raymondeers  Classical Jazz
Marion Davies "Beverly of Graustark"

On the Huntington Library page you can
use the slider to get a larger image -- then you
can pan around to explore details.

    L.A. Public Library Collection   


A 1922 view of the Raymond facade from the
 Library's collection. It's the Frederick Martin shot
also in the State Library collection.
full size view

A 1921 lobby photo. 
full size view

An undated view of the proscenium.
full size view

    The Old Pasadena Blog   


#25 of "25 Random Things About Old Pasadena"
includes this c.1921 view of the proscenium.

larger (but cropped) view

    Pasadena Museum of History   


A 1990 view from the Pasadena Museum of History's
Star News Collection. It appears in a 2010 post on Hometown
Pasadena: "Remembering Pasadena's Palace of Rock"
by Matt Hormann.
 full size view

The shot above also appears on Photos of Los Angeles.

See the Hometown Pasadena History Buff section for
other items of interest about historic Pasadena.

    The Raymond Renaissance   

A now-vanished website had some
 interesting views of the building.

A recent view of the proscenium from the site's
photo gallery. The former organ grille areas now
house an elevator and a stairway. 

  full size view

A look at the sidewall of the theatre
 -- now an atrium space.

full size view

A detail near the ceiling.

An exterior view of the former theatre building
 with the new addition on the corner.
 full size view

A look at the facade at night.
full size view

A floorplan of the revamped main floor.