Photo from L.A. Conservancy archives

Lincoln Theatre

Opened in 1927, the Lincoln Theatre located on historic Central Avenue is significant as the last remaining theatre in Los Angeles that catered specifically to the African American community.
Because of the quality and fame of the entertainers, the Lincoln Theatre was sometimes called the “West Coast Apollo” after Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, and in fact they both featured many of the same acts.

The building was designed by architect John Paxton Perrine, who was also responsible for the design of San Diego’s California Theatre (1926), the Roosevelt Theatre in Hawthorne (1926), the Fox Redondo Theatre (1927), and San Bernadino’s California Theatre (1928).

Designed in the Moorish Revival architectural style, the front façade is divided into three symmetrical bays with the marquee above the entrance of the central bay. The façade is marked by decorative ceramic tile above arches in the side bays and columns that are capped by onion-shaped capitals and lance-shaped spires. 

Inside, a mural of the theatre’s namesake president rises above its grand staircase. With a large stage, an orchestra pit, and seating for 2,100 patrons, the Lincoln Theatre was designed to accommodate live performances and movies. 

In addition to movies, from the 1930s through the 1950s, many leading African American entertainers performed live theatre, concerts, stage shows, vaudeville, and even talent shows at the Lincoln Theatre. Musical performers included Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, the Nat King Cole Trio, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Louis Jordan, Pigmeat Markham, Fats Domino, and B. B. King. It was outside the Lincoln Theatre in the late 1940s that songwriter eden ahbez (aka “ahbe”) handed the song "Nature Boy" to Nat King Cole's road manager.

The performances at the Lincoln attracted many Hollywood celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin, Irving Thalberg, Janet Gaynor, and Fanny Brice. 

In 1962, the Lincoln Theatre became a church when it was sold to the First Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ. Today, it is operated as the Iglesia De Cristo Ministerios Juda.

Photo by Jessica Burns/L.A. Conservancy

Comerica Bank

Constructed by an unknown architect at South Pasadena's most prominent commercial intersection, the building was significantly altered when it was converted to a furniture store in the 1950s.
Shrine Auditorium photo
Photo courtesy of Big Orange Landmarks

Shrine Auditorium

The Shrine Auditorium and its adjoining Shrine Expo Center were designed by architects John C. Austin and Abram M. Edelman with interiors by noted theatre architect G. Albert Lansburgh in a Moorish Revival style. When it opened in 1926 with over 6,700 seats, the Shrine was the largest theatre in the United States. It is still the largest proscenium arch stage in North America.