Opened in 1925, the Pasadena Community Playhouse was designed by Elmer Grey and built by the Winter Construction Co. As the new home of the Pasadena Community Theatre, the Playhouse quickly became a hub of the theatre community west of the Mississippi River.
A Spanish Colonial Revival building with Mission elements, the Playhouse is centered around a courtyard enclosed on three sides. Paved in flagstone and surrounded by arcades, the central courtyard is raised above street level. The composition of the building is asymmetrical and informal, almost residential in scale. The stucco walls are textured and irregular to resemble adobe and masonry construction.
The adjacent six-story concrete school Fannie E. Morrison Annex building was designed by J. Cyril Bennett in 1936 to house the School of Theatre Arts, an accredited college.
In 1937, the Pasadena Playhouse established a record as the only theatre in the United States to have staged the entire Shakespearean canon. That same year, the Playhouse became the State Theatre of California, a distinction it carries to this day.
The School of Theatre Arts shut its doors in 1969. After the death of founding director Gilmor Brown, the theatre itself went bankrupt. In 1975, the City of Pasadena purchased the building.
The Playhouse reopened in 1986 and continues to host a busy schedule that includes musicals, dramas, and readings.