Tower Theatre | Los Angeles Conservancy
Tower Theatre photo
Photo by Annie Laskey/L.A. Conservancy

Tower Theatre

UPDATE: On August 2, 2018, Apple officially announced plans to adaptively reuse The Tower Theatre as a retail operation, including  additional community programming, classes, and events. The Conservancy is pleased to see this long-vacant building reactivated on historic Broadway. We are currently working with Apple to review proposed plans and ensure important character-defining features are retained as part of this project. 

The Tower Theatre, at S. Broadway and W. 8th Street, was commissioned by H.L. Gumbiner, who would later also build the Los Angeles Theatre in 1931. It was the first theater designed by architect S. Charles Lee.

Seating 900 on a tiny site, it was designed in Renaissance Revival style with innovative French, Spanish, Moorish, and Italian elements all executed in terra-cotta. Its interior was modeled after the Paris Opera House. Its exterior features a prominent clock tower, the very top of which was removed after an earthquake.

It opened in 1927 with the silent film The Gingham Girl starring Lois Wilson and George K. Arthur. The Tower was the first filmhouse in Los Angeles to be wired for talking pictures, and it was the location of the sneak preview and Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros.' revolutionary part-talking The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson.

In 1950, the theatre began a successful period of running only newsreels, aptly taking on the name, Newsreel Theatre. That signage can still be faintly seen on the north and east sides of the building. It also served as a general-run theatre under the name Music Hall Downtown.

In 1965, the theatre was renamed the Tower Theatre. During the 1990s, the Tower became a popular location for film production, including the Warner Bros. film, Mambo Kings

Photo by Annie Laskey/L.A. Conservancy

Downtown Jewelry Exchange/Warner Bros. Theatre

The 1920 Pantages Theatre, a nine-story steel-framed building designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca, was the city’s second theatre (and the country’s sixteenth) built for the namesake vaudeville circuit.
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Roosevelt High School

Located in Boyle Heights, Roosevelt High School played a key role in the East L.A. Chicano Student Walkouts (Blowouts) of March 1968.
Photo by Ryan Tanaka

Hotel Normandie

A dedicated owner rebuffed lucrative redevelopment bids for this historic hotel, essentially crowdsourcing a careful restoration and catalytic investment in the neighborhood.