The exterior design was in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, with whitewashed concrete trimmed in blue, with a high bell tower and neon sign that could be seen for miles. The architects were Carleton Winslow and Dwight Gibbs. The iconic octagonal tower was placed in the front corner spandrel space left between the circle and the square. The auditorium’s cylinder-shaped wall was raised up above the roof line, to create a parapet visible from the outside that resembled a circus tent. “Simple, massive and dignified, the building stands out for its intrinsic beauty,” raved The Architect and Engineer. Pacific Coast Architect wrote that it was a theatre “masked as a cathedral”.
There was a drop curtain that featured an homage to the pioneer Donner Party, which perished crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Bronze busts of Native American leaders and photographs of Lillie Langtry and other 19th century actors adorned the lounges and lobbies. Murals of historic scenes forty feet tall graced the walls, painted by Pasadena artist Alson S. Clark.