Teragram Ballroom / Playhouse Theatre

    
1234 W. 7th St.    | map |

Los Angeles, CA 90017

Website: www.teragramballroom.com

The News: The Playhouse Theatre came back to life in 2015 as the Teragram Ballroom, a venture of the team behind New York's Bowery Ballroom. It's both a music venue and a restaurant. 

See the June 1, 2015  LA Downtown News story "Teragram Ballroom is Another Step in Downtown's Rock Revival." L.A. Weekly had a June 2 story "The Teragram Ballroom Could Be L.A.'s Next Great Rock Club."

Partners in the venture include Bowery founder Michael Sweir, local bar owner Joe Baxley (also from New York) and Michael's brother, architect Brian Sweir. The room's name is "Margaret" spelled backward, a tribute to Michael's late wife Margaret Hannigan, who died of cancer in 2009.

The New York Times ran a December 31, 2014 story by Ben Sisario, "A Bowery Titan Puts Down L.A. Roots," that profiled Michael Swier.  Thanks to Torr Leonard for spotting the story. Curbed L.A.'s Bianca Barragan had a followup story on January 2, 2015: "Westlake's Playhouse Reopens as Teragram Ballroom in March."

A May 2014 Curbed L.A.story  "Mapping the Huge Wave of Gentrification About To Hit Westlake" discussed new housing, transit accessibility and two neighborhood theatres in the news: the Hayworth and the Playhouse.

Adrian Glick Kudler had the story about the Bowery Ballroom team's plans for the space on Curbed L.A. in November 2013.


Original opening:  Possibly the theatre opened as early as 1913. It was advertised in 1914 and featured in Paramount ads in 1923. 

The theatre is 2 blocks west of the 110 freeway and a block east of the Mayfair Hotel. Wilshire is two short blocks north.

It's listed in the 1917 and 1921 directories as The Playhouse at 1234 W. 7th -- not to be confused with The Playhouse at the Friday Morning Club (now called the Variety Arts Theatre).

The address varies a bit. In the 1916 city directory it's listed as Playhouse, 1236 W. 7th. In 1919 and 1922 the address is 1234 1/2 W. 7th. It's listed as McKinney's Play House in the 1929 city directory and used that name at least until 1933.

Architect:  The architects of the 9,453 s.f. building were the firm of Mayberry & Parker, architectural engineers, with offices in the Pacific Electric Building. Thanks to Joe Vogel for finding information on the project in the December 14, 1912 issue of Southwest Contractor & Manufacturer.

Seating:  490 at one time. As the Teragram the capacity of the main space will be 600. A balcony was added as part of the renovation.

Status: It came back to life in March 2015 as the Teragram Ballroom.

It was operating as a film house into the mid 1950s. Afterward it became a print shop and for years after that it was a strange combination of violin store and Victory Outreach church.

The adjacent Quality Cafe in the west storefront is part of the project. The cafe had been a popular filming location. Break.com has a nice recap of scenes from some films using the space. Robert Juzefski had a nice interior shot of the cafe on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. His post, as a comment, also included a pre-renovation exterior view

Some of the theatre's lobby area was still intact before the renovation. In the auditorium, the original domed ceiling and the proscenium were still in place. The stage area has been upgraded and three large dressing rooms added.

More Information: Visit the Cinema Treasures page on the Playhouse for additional information.

See the 2013 story about the Bowery Ballroom plans on Land Use L.A.



The Playhouse Theatre building.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010

 

A view of the rear of the theatre.

photo: Bill Counter - 2010



     New York Times    

www.nytimes.com

The New York Times ran a December 31, 2014 story
by Ben Sisario, "A Bowery Titan Puts Down L.A. Roots,"
that profiled Bowery founder Michael Swier. 



Michael Swier and his brother Brian, left,
 in the unfinished Teragram Ballroom.

photo: Michal Czerwonka /
New York Times -  December 2014

Thanks to Torr Leonard for spotting the story.




A mid 50s view east on 7th toward downtown.
The Playhouse is on the right.

photo: Sean Ault collection 

The Playhouse is running "Aida" (1954) with
Sophia Loren and Renata Tebaldi. Thanks, Sean!

Sean Ault is a noted historian of transit
 in the Los Angeles area. You can see many more items
from his Osiris Press transit archive on YouTube.

[ click any of the photos on the page for a larger view ]


     Billboard    

www.billboard.com

A June 2015 Billboard story by Andy Gensler about the new venue,
"Music Impresario Michael Swier Transforms Former Silent Movie Theater...,"
interviews
Michael Swier, Bowery co-founder and the driving force
behind Teragram. He says it was a $3 million investment.




A look at the theatre's renovated entrance.

photo: Noah Webb/Billboard - 2015




The view across the soundboard into the house.

photo: Noah Webb/Billboard - 2015

The photo gallery with the article includes
 5 additional photos by Mr. Webb.


Thanks to Sandi Hemmerlein, of Avoiding Regret
fame, for spotting the Billboard story.



     Curbed L.A.    

la.curbed.com

 The operators of New York's Bowery Ballroom had filed plans in
2013 to use the building as a live performance space and restaurant. 
Curbed L.A.'s Adrian Glick Kudler had the story in November 2013:
"NYC's Bowery Ballroom Operators Wants To Revive..."




A pre-renovation auditorium view.

photo: Loopnet - 2009


Curbed reported that the intent at that time was for a space with
 440 seats or 708 patrons and featuring live entertainment, "incidental
 patron dancing" and, of course, alcohol.


Curbed L.A.'s Bianca Barragan had a followup story in January 2015:
 "Westlake's Playhouse Reopens as Teragram Ballroom in March."


| Loopnet listing |