The Theatorium



35 Board Walk   | map |

Long Beach, CA   90802

At the foot of Pine Ave. a walkway continued out toward the (original) Municipal Auditorium at the Ocean Ave. level. 

On the west side of the boardwalk, one could walk down a sloped street toward The Pike. The Theatorium was about a half block down from Ocean Ave. From the Theatorium, if you were to walk another half block toward the beach you'd run into The Pike, and, on the corner, the later Rialto Theatre.

After 1919, the State Theatre building would abut the east side of the walkway. One could get to The Pike through the State Theatre building -- there was a pedestrian subway beneath Ocean Ave. that came out inside the lower level of the building.

After 1929, when the Ocean Center Building was finished on the west side of Pine Avenue, that building too had an arcade through it leading to the amusement area.

Opened: 1908 or earlier -- evidently by G.O. Post. It was later run by William Fahey, who subsequently operated the Palace and the State. Signage on the side of the building in 1908 called it the National Theatorium.

CSULB has a page on the Theatorium which notes:

“'Long Beach’s Nickel Movie Days,' Independent Press Telegram (Aug. 2, 1964), by Maymie Krythe: Featured in this article is a picture of the Theatorium which Krythe said was obtained 'courtesy of Mrs. William J. Fahey and Harold Fahey.' This movie house was very popular because of daily performances from 2-5:20 P.M., at five cents and because there were also showings on Saturday and Sunday evenings. It is said that some residents never missed a program, which changed three times weekly. In 1911, William J. Fahey and William Raymond bought the Theatorium and showed films made by Biograph, Vitagraph, Lubin and Pathé."

The Theatorium is in the 1908 and 1910 city directory with the address "South of the Salt Lake Depot," which was on Ocean, just west of Pine Ave. In the 1913-14 directory it's listed as "The Boardwalk."  In the 1915-16 and 1916-17 directories we actually have an address: 35 Board Walk.

In the 1914 Los Angeles phone book the address is shown as "Boardwalk on PIke." It's not listed in either the 1918 or later Long Beach city directories.

After the State Theatre opened in 1919, Fahey would have been able to stand at the front door of the Theatorium (if it were still open) and look under the boardwalk to see the lower floor of the Jergins Trust Building (originally called the Markwell Building), which contained the State, on the east side of the walk.

Architect:   Unknown

Seating:  Unknown. CSULB gives a number of 600, although this may be for the Rialto, which they perceive as the same venue.

Status: Demolished. The closing date is unknown -- perhaps around 1917. The building was around well into the 20s as it appears in photos with the State Theatre building. The Pike area where the Theatorium and Rialto theatres were is now a parking lot. 

The area east of the theatre (fronting on Pine Avenue) is the location of the gargantuan Ocean Center Bldg.  It was designed by Meyer & Holler and completed in 1929. The Ocean Center building had a lower arcade heading directly onto The Pike.



The photo here is a c.2011 view from Google Maps showing the
archway heading through the Ocean Center Building toward the
former Pike location. We're looking north on Pine toward Ocean Blvd.

If you had walked through the arch decades ago, you would have run
into the Rialto Theatre, with the Theatorium up the block to the right.

The State Theatre location is off to the right. 
Click to enlarge or go to Google for an interactive view.


More Information on The Pike: See our page on the Strand Theatre for links to more photos and articles.

CSULB has a page on the Theatorium where they maintain that it was the same venue as the Rialto Theatre. They were close, but not the same building. The Rialto was a former restaurant building that was at the corner of Board Walk and The Pike.

Another Theatorium:  It doesn't seem to be related but Henry Jensen had a theatre in Echo Park called the Theatorium -- later renamed the Sunset, among many other names.


    Film Index    



A photo of the National Theatorium from the magazine
Film Index of December 31, 1910. The items stuck to the
 facade are evidently wedding wishes. The caption reads:"How
 the National Theatorium, Long Beach, Cal., looked when
 its proprietor, G.O. Post, returned from his wedding tour."
Thanks to Brooklyn-based theatre historian Cezar Del Valle,
 of Theatre Talks fame, for locating the photo!



    Island of Long Beach    

www.facebook.com/islandoflongbeach


A c.1910 view looking west along the Pike toward the
colonnaded Bathhouse. The Theatorium's stagehouse
is visible halfway up on the right edge of the photo.
full size view

The large building in the background is the Hotel Virginia.
It's not 1925 as the photo caption suggests -- it's much earlier.
 See the color postcard view of this image in the Long Beach
Public Library collection.

We don't get the Strand Theatre in the photo. It'll soon
get built between the Bathhouse and the Roller Rink (the
 building with the arched roof beyond). But we do get the
stagehouse of the Bentley Theatre visible just in
 front of the Hotel Virginia.



    Long Beach Heritage Museum   

longbeachheritagemuseum.org



A nice birds eye view of the 1905 Auditorium from
the Long Beach Heritage Museum collection.

The stagehouse we see in the center of the photo is
that of the Theatorium with the front of the building
extending left to appear to be touching the pier.

The sign on the side of the Theatorium says "Selz Shoes."
We're probably standing on top of the bathhouse.
full size view


  Card Cow also has a clearer copy of this -- postmarked 1911.
It also appears on the Visit To Old Los Angeles site.



A 20s view looking east along the Pike from
the Long Beach Heritage Museum collection.
full size view

We get a view of the Theatorium stagehouse on the
left, halfway up the image. 
Note the "Loew's State"
signage atop the State Theatre
building.



    Photos of Los Angeles   

www.facebook.com/groups/244565982234863/



A delightful 1908 view added to the Photos of Los Angeles
collection by Alexander Djordjevich. At the head of the pier
is the Municipal Auditorium and the National Theatorium
 is in the center of the photo. 
full size view




A detail from the 1908 photo. Note that the
Theatorium hasn't yet added on a stagehouse.





    A Visit to Old Los Angeles   

www.csulb.edu/~odinthor/essalist



Well, it's not much to look at, but here you can see the front of
the Theatorium building beyond the boardwalk. It's right of center,
below the twin red steeples of the Bathhouse beyond.

The boardwalk extended Pine Street out from Ocean Ave.
The 1905 Auditorium would be off to the left.




Another Theatorium view. You can see the stagehouse
in the middle of the image at the far right. The large
structure at center is the Bathhouse.
larger view


The views are from from
Brent Dickerson's Long Beach: Part 3 Pier and Pike
page. Visit the site for lots of other interesting views.

See also:
 
| birdseye view -- similar to Long Beach Heritage card  |
 
Long Beach Part 1  |  Long Beach Part 2 |











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    Cal State Long Beach   

csulb.edu/colleges/cla/departments/rgrll


On the CSULB page about the Theatorium we get
this 1915 view looking up the pier toward Ocean Blvd.
The Theatorium is off to the left on "Board Walk,"
 which sloped down to The Pike.

That's the train depot beyond. The photo is from
the Historical Society of Long Beach.


    Card Cow   

www.cardcow.com



A delightful postcard view on the Card Cow site that gives us a
glimpse of the Rialto (on the corner) and, up the block to the
right, the Theatorium. 
full size view

Look just above the "Rialto Theatre" sign and note
 "Theatorium" on the stagehouse.

Also on the site:
 | earlier view -- before Rialto -- see image below in the Noirish LA listing  |
 |  view postmarked 1913 -- similar to Long Beach Library card  |
 |  another version of the 1913 card  |  another variation  |
 |  1911 birdseye view - similar to the Long Beach Heritage card  |



    eBay   

www.ebay.com



An early postcard which seems to give us a view of the
Theatorium building before the stagehouse was added.
The seller datedit as c.1910 but it's probably earlier.
On Photos of Los Angeles there's a 1908
view, also without the stagehouse.



An early look up the pier toward Ocean Blvd. The building
 to the left with the reddish roof is the train station. This side
 of it we have a glimpse of the curvy Theatorium facade.
full size view

 In the lower left is the building that would later be the
 Rialto Theatre. The patch of green grass at the right
 would later be the site of the State Theatre.The seller,
Dealeh2 dates he card as c.1909.



We're looking over the train station to get a grand view of the
1905 Municipal auditorium. The card was postmarked in 1909.
Right behind the station we get a sliver of the Theatorium.
full size view



A look west toward the Theatorium (on the left) and
The Pike beyond from the 1923 Union Pacific Yearbook
put together by station employees of the railroad. By this
 time the building was no longer being used as a theatre.

larger view

Thanks to intrepid theatre sleuth
Michelle Gerdes for finding these goodies!



    Long Beach Public Library   

encore.lbpl.org


An undated postcard view from the Long Beach
Public Library. The red brick stagehouse and
sidewall of the Theatorium is on the right.
full size view

The large building in the distance is the Virginia Hotel.
 The stagehouse with the reddish mansard roof just this
side of the hotel is that of the BentleyTheatre.

Another version of the card (in a larger format) is
in the collection of Loyola Marymount University.

Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for finding
 the card in the LMU archives.



    L.A. Public Library Collection   

www.lapl.org


The Library's caption reads:
"Men are lounging at the entrance to the Theatorium in
Long Beach which advertises itself as "Refined Photoplay".

Two of the men are leaning on the ticket booth which
stands between two wooden columns. The price of admission
is 5 cents. Posters on the side advertise today's
feature, "The Schoolma'm of Stone Gulch". Next poster
advertises "Tenderfoot Bob's Regeneration".
Photo dated: 1912."
full size view

The photo is from the Mrs. William J. Fahey collection.
 It also appears on the CSULB page about the Theatorium.



    Noirish L.A. - Skyscraperpage.com   

skyscraperpage.com

forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread




Here's a postcard view looking west along the Pike. The Theatorium
stagehouse is visible on the right.  The building with the yellow
awnings will later be the Rialto Theatre.
 
  The card is on post 2308 by Beaudry on Noirish LA - page 116.
full size view



    USC Archives    

digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm



A c.1910 view looking west. The Theatorium is on
the right. The building with the awning in the lower
center would later be the Rialto.
full size view

The photo is from the California Historical Society.




A detail from the USC image. That's the
stagehouse with the OWL cigar ad on it.