Mayfair Theatre

    
214 Santa Monica Blvd.  | map |

Santa Monica, CA 90401

Opened: It opened as the Santa Monica Opera House on December 12, 1911. It was initially used for legitimate theatre and silent films. It soon became known as the Majestic Theatre.

The original street address was on Oregon St., later renamed Santa Monica Blvd.

Architect:  Henry C. Hollwedel

Seating:  602 seats, with a balcony.

Status:  It suffered damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and had been closed since that time. In 2010 the building was demolished with only the facade remaining.

The new structure will be for retail on the ground floor, parking below and 34 apartments above. Karl Schober has owned the building for many years and has spent a number of them trying to negotiate a design that would be approved by city hall.

History: J. Euclid Miles, a prominent real estate man in Santa Monica, was one of the backers of the theatre. Charles Tegner, a founding father of Santa Monica was also involved.

The theatre got a new facade in 1928 reflecting the new craze for Spanish revival buildings in southern California. As a movie theatre, the Majestic was architecturally stunning but didn't have the class of the larger theatres such as the Elmiro or the Criterion. It became the Mayfair Theatre in 1967. It closed as a movie theatre in the summer of 1973.

In 1973 it became the Mayfair Music Hall under the direction of Milt Larson, of Magic Castle and Variety Arts Center fame. It was a showcase for comedy acts and variety presentations and revues. Larson used some decorations from the closed Fox Belmont theatre to enhance the look of the Mayfair. Some of the inside paneling was doors from other buildings.

At the time, it was reported to be the oldest legit theatre still operating in the Los Angeles area. Larson gave up the theatre in 1985 and it was then operated by a succession of other promoters.

The current owner of the building, Karl Schober, is the grandson of Charles Tegner, the original owner. He purchased the shares of the other inheritors in 1986.

The Mayfair in the Movies: 



The Mayfair appears in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein"
(Fox, 1974).  We get a look at the back of the house
prior to the "Puttin' on the Ritz" number (Irving Berlin).
 larger view





A look at the stage area during the theatre scene with
Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein."
 larger view





A view of Peter Boyle at the end of the number also gives
us a good look at the decor of the proscenium box beyond.
 full size view


More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Mayfair for lots of fond recollections and links to many more exterior photos.

See the Santa Monica Landmark Properties Mayfair Theatre page for more history of the building.  Santa Monica Property blog ran a story in 2008 about the design issues "Mayfair..is Greenlighted."

Cinema Treasures researcher Jeff Bridges (aka Vokoban) has discovered a few facts about the theatre. They're on his Majestic / Mayfair Theater Flickr page. His photo set has photos taken in January 2010 during the demolition.

The blog Doves 2 Day offers many interesting snippets of Santa Monica history in the blog post "Searching for ABW - Santa Monica" from March 2009. Wikipedia has a short article on the Mayfair Music Hall.

If you're looking for information on an earlier Santa Monica Opera House, see our page for Steere's Opera House.



The restored facade with the new building behind.

photo: Bill Counter - September 2013



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     American Classic Images    

www.americanclassicimages.com



A view of the Mayfair in better
days -- running a revue in 1983.
full size view




Also in the collection from this
 website is this 1980 shot.



     Photos of Los Angeles   

www.facebook.com/groups/244565982234863/



A 1979 view of the Mayfair, under Milt Larson's
tenure there, added to the Photos of Los Angeles
collection by Ken McIntyre.
full size view  |  on FB/LAtheatres



    Santa Monica Public Library    




A 1911 rendering of the Majestic, aka
 "Santa Monica Opera House."

full size view



A c.1920 view looking east on Santa Monica Boulevard.
 That's the Majestic Theatre on the extreme right
 with its original facade.
 full size view









A view of the forlorn Mayfair Theatre awaiting its fate.

photo: Bill Counter - 2007


[ click on these photos to enlarge ]



The facade supported with the building demolished .

photo: Bill Counter - February 2010


The view down the alley.

 photo: Bill Counter - 2010


The facade from the rear.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A facade detail.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Another 2013 view.

photo: Bill Counter



    The Look Out News    

www.surfsantamonica.com


A 1929 view from the Look Out News.  It's from the
April 2007 article "Strolling Through Downtown's Past."
The theatre is running "Sacred Flame" with Pauline
Frederick and Conrad Nagel.
full size view

Also see the march 2008 story
 "Rebirth of a Landmark."

The photo above also appears on the Facebook
page Santa Monica Bay Women's Club.



     L.A. Public Library Collection   

 www.lapl.org 


A view of the Mayfair in 1964 (when it was still called
 the Majestic) from the LAPL collection. We also get
view of the 2 storefronts: "The Horn of Plenty" and
 "The Lady Bug."  full size view

The photo above is also in the collection
of the Santa Monica Public Library.



    SoCal Historic Architecture    

www.facebook.com/groups/220888788034363


A different version of the Santa Monica Library
photo, added to the SoCal Historic Architecture
page by Carole Robinson.
full size view