The 1,000-seat venue opened its doors in 1926 to host vaudeville acts. It changed owners numerous times and over the decades has been used as a performance arts center, filming location, World War II-era movie house and Spanish cinema theater, among other purposes, according to the group Friends of the Wilmington Granada.
The organization has been working to raise money and reopen the theater as an independent movie house and performance center, now that the church that occupied the building for the past 15 years has moved out. “Reopening the Wilmington Granada theater will not only create jobs but will stimulate the economy by offering performances and films,” Friends of the Wilmington Granada said on its Facebook page.
Located at 632 N. Avalon Blvd. in Wilmington, about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, the theater’s defining characteristics that have survived include terrazzo floors, balcony seating, an ornate proscenium and, most notably, an intact pull-down advertising curtain that still displays ads for small local businesses from the 1920s and 1930s (see photo above).
A representative from the L.A. Historic Theater Foundation who called into the City Council meeting today noted that the curtain is the “last remaining example we know of across the whole city.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the Wilmington area, has sought since 2014 to designate the building as a historic-cultural monument for its value as “an excellent and rare example of a neighborhood theater with Renaissance Revival architectural influences in Wilmington,” according to the application.
“It is imperative that the city’s historic-cultural treasures be celebrated, and foremost, that its historic architecture be preserved for future generations,” Buscaino said at the time. “The Granada Theater located on Wilmington’s Avalon Boulevard is an architectural treasure and integral to the development of this South Bay community.”