Tower Theatre | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Tower Theatre

UPDATE: Since first announced in August, 2018, the plan to adaptively reuse the Tower Theatre as an Apple store has generated much excitement. On June 24, 2021, the rehabilitation and restoration work is finally complete and the reimagined Tower Theatre reopened to the public in its new use. 

The Conservancy is pleased to see this long-vacant building reactivated on historic Broadway. We worked closely with Apple to review proposed plans and ensure important character-defining features were retained as part of this project. We applaud Apple and the Delijani family for their commitment toward preservation, attention to detail, and to telling the story of the Tower Theatre—all while reinvigorating a beautiful place that Angelenos can once again marvel at and enjoy!

A recent article by Variety includes the Conservancy and our thoughts about this adaptive reuse project.

Adapting the historic Tower Theatre for a new use was a delicate balance, and resulted from a thoughtful process to ensure the essential character and qualities were maintained while bringing this long-vacant building back into productive use. 

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 film house in Los Angeles to be wired for talking pictures.

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 courtesy of Berger/Conser Photography

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