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
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).
A look at the stage area during the theatre scene with
Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein."
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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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.
Santa Monica Public
A 1911 rendering of the Majestic,
"Santa Monica Opera House." full size view
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