The Rosemary Theatres

Rosemary Theatre #1:
  Destroyed by fire 1912
Ocean Front Promenade
[ exact location unknown ]
Ocean Park (Santa Monica), CA   90405

Opened: 1912 or earlier.

The original Rosemary Theatre location was on Ocean Front Promenade north of Pier Ave. The Rosemary at this point is operated by the Raymond Amusement Co., which gets a 1912 directory listing as being at "Fraser Pier."

The Demise:
Completely destroyed in the September, 1912 pier fire. The pier and much of the Ocean Park business district was gutted.

The Santa Monica Outlook of September 4, 1912 reported that "Northward from Pier avenue the destruction was complete and included...the Rosemary theater and apartment house..."

    L. A. Public Library Collection

A view of the Rosemary Theatre site after the 1912 fire.
"A bigger and better Rosemary will be built here at once."
full size view

Rosemary Theatre #2:  1912 - 1913
between Kinney and Pier
[ Trolleyway was later known as Neilson Way / Pacific Ave. ]

Ocean Park (Santa Monica), CA   90405

Opening: It's unknown exactly when the Rosemary got running again after the September, 1912 fire. The September 17, 1912 Santa Monica Outlook reported:

Charles Sams and the Raymond Brothers are reported
as announcing that they would erect a modern semi-
fireproof theater building on the new 'boardwalk' on
Trolleyway next to the Revolving Cage Grotto, work
to begin immediately. The new theatre which will be
called the Rosemary, will have a frontage of fifty feet
and a depth of 100 feet. It will have a seating capacity
of 600 persons, and will be a permanent structure and
an ornament to the new amusement district. Only first
class motion pictures and good vaudeville sketches
will be seen in this playhouse, which will be the first
one in Ocean Park since the fire."

It was evidently open by December. The Santa Monica Outlook December 16, 1912 reported that a missing girl was seen coming out the rear door of the Rosemary Theatre. In the paper for December 21, 1912 it was reported that the Rosemary Theatre "on the pike" was in business. 

The Rosemary again gets a mention in the January 21, 1913 paper about its shows and April 4, 1913 about a benefit for flood victims.

Closing: It's unknown when the Rosemary Theatre management moved out to their new building on the Fraser Pier.

Also not known is what later happened to this structure. It's listed in the 1913-14 city directory as the "Old Rosemary."

Rosemary Theatre #3:
  1913 - 1919 ?
6 Ocean Park Pier

Ocean Park (Santa Monica), CA   90405

Opening: 1913?  This location for the Rosemary was halfway out on the pier, just beyond the Breakers Restaurant.

The Rosemary is listed as "Ocean Park Pier" in the 1913-14 city directory and as "6 Ocean Park Pier" in the 1915-16 city directory. The Raymond Amusement Company's listings also show the same addresses in these two directories.

The Fraser Pier as a whole had a grand reopening for the summer season in May, 1913 after a complete rebuild of the attractions from the disastrous September, 1912 fire. The assumption is that they got open by June. the Santa Monica Outlook for June 23, 1913 had this story:

The New Rosemary Theater at Ocean Park is
 doing a 'land office' business; the Rosemary is
 most commodious, well managed and presents a
fine program of up to date pictures together with
 refined vaudeville; the ladies' orchestra is also
an attractive feature.

This Rosemary Theatre building on the pier escaped destruction in the 1915 pier fire.  Buildings farther out on the pier were not so lucky.

The Rosemary Location #3 in the Movies:

Stan Laurel stars in "Just Rambling Along," a 1918
Hal Roach one-reeler filmed on the pier.  Here near
 the beginning we get a view looking north toward
the stagehouse of the Rosemary #3. 
larger view | the film on You Tube

The Harold Lloyd two-reeler "Number, Please?" (Hal Roach/
Pathe) was released in December, 1920. Here in this shot
we're looking north toward the Ocean Park/Pickering Pier.
Note that the Rosemary Theatre out on the pier has
 been renamed the Rialto Theatre.

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.

Closing: It closed in 1919 or 1920 as the Rosemary. This location then became the Rialto Theatre.  Evidently it was known later as the Strand Theatre -- Jeffrey Stanton identifies this location as such on his 1923 Pier map (#18). The assumption is that it ran until the 1924 fire.

Mysteries: In December, 1910 the magazine Nickelodeon reported that "A large theatre will be erected on Fraser's Million Dollar Pier for W. H. Clune and Associates, who have secured exclusive rights to the vaudeville and moving picture privileges. The auditorium will have a seating capacity of 1,000 persons." 

This theatre is perhaps the Starland Theatre. It's unknown if Clune actually operated the Starland. See the Cameo Theatre page on our Downtown L.A. Theatres site for more on Billy Clune.

    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History

A 1914 view of the Rosemary Theatre (at far left)
 on the Ocean Park Pier from Mr. Stanton's site.
full size view | on the Venice site

We're looking seaward down the pier. It's on his
"Fraser / Pickering / Lick Piers (1913-1924)" page.
He identifies it as the Strand Theatre -- a name it
had after 1920. It was also known as the Rialto.

The Santa Monica Public Library has a pinkish
version of a this view -- but also a bit larger.

    Photos of Los Angeles

A 1915 look at filming on the beach with a view
of the Rosemary stagehouse. Ken McIntyre discovered
 the photo for his Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.
  full size view | on Photos of LA

    Venice, Ocean Park & Santa Monica

Thanks to Chrys Atwood for this lovely postcard
view looking north on the Promenade. At the far left is the
 Rosemary Theatre, its location #3 out on the pier.
"Three Typical Surf Bathers" -- A c.1915 shot
from Chrys Atwood's collection. Behind the ladies
we have the Breakers Cafe and the Rosemary.

    Vintage Los Angeles

A Summer 1915 photo from the collection
of Alexander Dana. It was taken by his great
grandmother. We're looking north toward the pier
and the stagehouse of the Rosemary.
 full size view | on Vintage LA

Rosemary Theatre #4: 1919 ? - 1924

2946 Ocean Front  Promenade
Ocean Park (Santa Monica), CA   90405

Opening: Unknown. By 1920 the former location on the Pier had been renamed the Rialto Theatre.This location was at the head of the Fraser/ Pickering/ Ocean Park Pier at the foot of Pier Avenue. It was on the north side of the pier entrance (but still south of Pier Ave.).

It's listed as the "New Rosemary  Ocean Front Promenade sw cor Pier Ave." in the 1919-20 city directory. It's listed at the same address as well as "2946 Ocean Park Promenade" in the 23-24 directory.

Head to Jeffrey Stanton's nice map of the Pickering/Lick Piers - 1923. The Rosemary Theatre is at #5 on the map.  Also see Mr. Stanton's "Fraser / Pickering / Lick Piers (1913-1924)" and his article on "Ocean Park Pier (1926-1956)."  And don't miss his great "Movie Making in Venice and Ocean Park" web page for a full list of movie action on the beach.

The Demise: Destroyed by fire on January 6, 1924 along with most of the other buildings on the Pickering and Lick Piers. The Rosemary management set up a temporary home for their operation on the promenade at Kinney St.

The 2946 address was later a "Fun Palace" (1927 directory) and the "Casino Gradens" (30-31 directory) .

    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 |

Mr. Basten has this lovely photo of the Rosemary Theatre
on p.165 with the date of c.1931, obviously too late as this
building burned in January 1924. Note the great
 diorama above the entrance.

Lettering on a window behind one of the firemen can be
 seen to say "Rosemary Theatre" and there's a sign in the
 2nd floor window advertising "Raymond Amusement
 Co. ... Rosemary Theatre."

    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History   

A view looking south in 1920. The structure with
the elaborate roof and fancy facade (just left of the
 "Cafeteria" sign) is the 4th Rosemary Theatre.
 larger view

The original Dome dance hall, later to become
 the final Rosemary site, is beyond.

Also see Mr. Stanton's map of the piers in 1923. 
The original Dome Theatre is #21 on the map.
The Rosemary is at #5 and a smaller venue,
the Strand Theatre is at #18.

And don't miss his
 Movie Making in Venice and Ocean Park.

    Venice, Ocean Park & Santa Monica   

 We're looking south on the Promenade. On the right near us, the
edge of the Rosemary Theatre Building, to burn (with many other things)
in January 1924. Just beyond, if you take a right, you're heading out
onto the pier. Thanks to Chrys Atwood for the fine card, posted on
 the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page.
  full size view | on the Venice OP & SM page

That white three story building on the left with the arch appears to
be the post-1912 La Petite Theatre. There seems to be a sign
advertising a Mack Sennett attraction hanging out from the building.
Take a left beyond the La Petite building and you're on Marine St.

In addition to the post linked above, Chrys also has a larger
 view of the card as a comment to her pre-1912 La Petite postcard.

A 1920 view of the 4th Rosemary Theatre on the right.
We're looking seaward on the Pickering Pier.

 Bill Gabel has a slightly different
 version of it on Cinema Treasures.

A 1924 fire view posted on the Venice, Ocean Park and
 Santa Monica page by Vince Packard as a comment to
the card above. He's spotted the bottom of the Rosemary
sign in the debris on the lower right.

Thanks Chrys and Vince!

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Rosemary Theatre #5:  1924 and after
14 Ocean Front Walk    | map
Venice, CA  90291

Opened: May 30, 1924 on the boardwalk in the spot previously occupied by the Dome Theatre.  This address is just south of the Santa Monica city limits.
In the 1925 directory this location is listed as 3034 Ocean Front Promenade, Venice.  In the 1923-24 city directory when the Dome was at this site the listing was 3034 Ocean Front Promenade (Ocean Park).

See Jeffrey Stanton's Ocean Park - LIck Piers -1929 map. The Rosemary is at position #1

The entrance from the old Dome and the foundations were all that was salvaged from the fire. The rest of the Rosemary was a new building -- erected in 23 days!

This version of the theatre was operated by West Coast Theatres and was, after the merger with Fox, advertised as the Fox Rosemary.

Architect: Unknown

Seating: 1,454

The Rosemary #5 in the Movies:

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.

The Demise: The closing date is unknown so presumably early 50s. It doesn't get a listing in the 1954 city directory or the 1957 yellow pages. The Rosemary, along with the rest of the amusement area, was demolished around 1970.

After the closing: The theatre was equipped for 70mm in the 60s and was being used as a test house for the D-150 process. An industry demonstration of the system was held in October, 1965.  No commercial engagements were in 70mm at the Rosemary.

    L. A. Public Library Collection

A proscenium view of the last Rosemary Theatre
during demolition. The Library dates this as 1970.
 full size view

    Motion Picture News    

On the Internet Archive is the Motion Picture News
 issue of February 18, 1928. This Rosemary photo
appears in a story about theatres decorated by
the Robert E. Powers Studios.

The Rosemary photo is also in the Theatres: Stage and Movie
set of Charmaine Zoe on Flickr where she has over 700 photos
culled from various issues of Motion Picture News.

    Noirish Los Angeles

Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Tourmaline
for spotting this 30s view looking north toward the Rosemary
and Dome theatres. Source of the photo is unknown.

Check out Tourmaline's Noirish post #35774 for
 some other great Ocean Park shots.

    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:
  | Amazon | Google book overview  |

A 1926 panoramic view from the south toward the Rosemary and
Dome Theatres that appears in Mr. Basten's wonderful book.

The near theatre (with the large "THEATRE" on the side) is the
 last Rosemary -- you can also see its vertical sign (using the old
Dome facade). The new Dome Theatre is just beyond, with the
DOME THEATRE sign atop its stagehouse.

Only part of what is a huge panoramic shot appears in the
book. Here are closer views of two portions of the photo:

The stage end of the 1926 photo, with a better view of the
happy sunbathers. Thanks to Bill Kittle for posting the image
on the Venice, Ocean Park & Santa Monica Facebook page.
full size view | on the Venice OP & SM page

The view above also appears on Photos of Los Angeles.

A closer look at the far right side of the image.

Ken McIntyre also has a chunks of the promenade end of
the photo and the stage end in his Photobucket album. 

    Santa Monica History Museum

A 1944 view of the Rosemary from the Santa Monica
History Museum. Bill Beebe was the photographer.
full size view | on the SMHM site

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

Another 1944 view by Bill Beebe, here looking
north along the promenade. "And The Angels
 Sing" is the feature at the Rosemary.

full size view | on the SMHM site

Michael found this one for us as well.
He's got it on the V,OP & SM page.

    Santa Monica Library Collection

A c.1929 view north on the Promenade toward the
 Rosemary -- and the Dome Theatre beyond. The Library
 dates this one as 1900, obviously not the case.

A view of the Rosemary #5 and, just
beyond, the new Dome Theatre in 1930.

We're on Ocean Front Walk in a view from the
Library's Imagine Santa Monica collection.
The photographer was Bartlett Adelbert. 
full size view

    Jeffrey Stanton - Venice History   

A 1931 view of the Rosemary Theatre marquee
 from Mr. Stanton's delightful Venice History site.
He noted that the Palace dance hall is on the right.

slightly larger view

See another version of this card down a bit under the listings
 for the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page.

    USC Archives

A c.1925-30 view of the beach at Santa Monica, the
 Lick Pier and the south side of the 1924 Rosemary Theatre.
It's a photo from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
Sorry, no larger view. This photo, #CHS-33169,
seems to have been lost from the USC Archives. 

Also in the USC Archives:
| view of the pier - farther south - undated  |

    Venice California

A postcard view from 1926 showing the new
 Rosemary Theatre and the Lick and Ocean Park
 Piers. It's on the "Venice History 1907-1929"
section of this interesting site.
full size view | on the Venice site

    Venice, Ocean Park & Santa Monica   

A 1931 Promenade view. At the Rosemary: Joan
Crawford and Neil Hamilton in "Laughing Sinners."

Thanks to Chrys Atwood for the lovely card.
It's in the "Trams Through The Years" set.

A lovely night postcard view discovered by Chrys Atwood.
It's a mid to late-20s shot with a postmark of 1931.

On the beach in 1936 looking toward the Lick Pier and the
Rosemary Theatre. Thanks to Jon Haimowitz for the photo on
the Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica Facebook page.
 full size view | on the V, OP & SM page

Thanks to Chrys Atwood (and Danji) for the find of this
photo of the Rosemary in the 60s -- after it had closed.
full size view | on the V, OP & SM page

More Information:

See the Cinema Treasures page on the Rosemary Theatres.

See our page on Venice and Ocean Park Theatres for
information on other Theatres in the amusement area.

Also check out our page on the Dome Theatre.

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