San Gabriel Mission Playhouse | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Michael Locke

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

Opened in 1927, the playhouse was built for John Steven McGroarty specifically as a venue for his famed Mission Play. The world-renowned production told the dramatic story of the founding of the California missions by the Franciscan Fathers under the leadership of Father Junipero Serra.

Steeped in history, the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is an opulent theater, with a restored Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, tapestries from the King of Spain, and a beautifully carved and painted ceiling with chandeliers that replicate lanterns used on Spanish galleons.

The architectural style is Mission Revival - the exterior façade was designed to resemble McGroarty’s favorite mission, San Antonio de Padua in Monterey County, California. The interior shows  Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences.

At the end of the 1932 season, following an astounding 3,198 performances, the effects of the depression plus a failed attempt to produce the show for Broadway ended the Mission Play’s long run.

During the ensuing decade, the Mission Playhouse served as a movie theater, its dressing rooms later converted into apartments to help ease the World War II housing shortage. A citizens’ committee was formed during this time to promote the city’s purchase of the playhouse. They ultimately succeeded and in 1945, the playhouse was renamed San Gabriel Civic Auditorium, a name the structure held until 2007, when its original name was restored.

Photo courtesy of Berger/Conser Photography

Orpheum Theatre and Loft Building

This opulent theatre and twelve-story office building opened in 1926 as the fourth and final home of the famed Orpheum vaudeville circuit in Los Angeles.
Photo by Juan Kenobi

Pasadena Playhouse

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.