Hollywood's Historic Buildings
Theaters and other architectural gems lined Hollywood's famous boulevards during its Golden Age and now hold restored star appeal
- By Laura Kiniry
- Smithsonian.com, March 01, 2010
Two dozen valet parking attendents line up at the RKO Pantages Theater, ready to park the cars of celebrities arriving to the 30th Annual Academy Awards ceremony (Ralph Crane / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images)
6233 Hollywood Boulevard
The Day of the Locust Director John Schlesinger once said of Hollywood, “[it] is an extraordinary kind of temporary place.” Fame may be fleeting, but when it comes to Hollywood architecture “preservation” is now the watchword. Thanks to the efforts of private companies and such preservation groups as Hollywood Heritage and the Los Angeles Conservancy, dozens of historic buildings in the area have been rescued.
Even though it opened in 1930 less than a year after the stock market crash, this grand movie palace spared no expense. Vaulted champagne-colored arches soar over the lavish Art Deco lobby, anchored by a grand staircase. An ornate three-dimensional ceiling crowns the 2,812-seat auditorium. Initially the new theater featured a mixed bill, alternating movies with live vaudeville acts. For a decade in the 1950s, it was the home of the Academy Awards presentations and other galas. In 1977, the Pantages was renovated to stage touring productions of Broadway plays, the first being Bubbling Brown Sugar. The theater underwent a $10 million overhaul in preparation for the opening of The Lion King, making it a sought-after venue for major theater productions.