A PICTURE PALACE – CARTHAY CIRCLE THEATRE – LOS ANGELES

drawing carthay circle

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.[1] The architects were Carleton Winslow and Dwight Gibbs.[3] 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.[1] Pacific Coast Architect wrote that it was a theatre “masked as a cathedral”.[1]

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.[1]

via Carthay Circle Theatre – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

freshly built

13 comments

  1. George Kaplan

    In Los Angeles did Kubla Khan a stately picture palace decree… Such a magnificent building from a time when theaters really were thrilling edifices and antechambers to Dreams.
    Favourite phrases of the day: “whitewashed concrete trimmed in blue”, “iconic octagonal tower”, and “spandrel space”. 🙂 In truth, I love the rhythm of the writing in this piece. Excellent and imagistic.

    (Bad Taste Comment: I hope the tribute to the Donner party didn’t feature illustrations of them eating each other… Oops)

  2. Very cathedral like indeed.At first glance one would be forgiven for thinking it was.Such a shame that it is now gone though.Well at least it once was there and we have the pictures.Better still however if it were still standing.

    I sometimes muse whether there is in fact some perverse architectual law that says-when you knock down a good building it must be replaced by something worse.I have certainly considered this to have a general applicability.It also seems to be true that almost inevitably the worse building that replaces the older one must be held to be a shining example of improvement that has torn away the past to replace it with something of our age etc.The curious assumption seeming to be that something of our age is invariably better without the need to prove it and despite the fact that self evidently it is not, we must accept it or be philistines who do not understand progress or even worse philistines who would stand in its way.

    I have long considered this not to be so much an arguement as name calling.I lose count of the times I have heard it however.

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