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Checking in on the Warner Hollywood Theatre, a once-grand movie palace

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Its glamour has only slightly faded

Photos by Matthew Lambros
Courtesy of Matthew Lambros/After the Final Curtain

For four years now, the Warner Hollywood Theatre (or the Hollywood Pacific Theatre, as it was also known) on Hollywood Boulevard has been shuttered to the public, save the occasional tour group. On one of those tours, photographer Matthew Lambros captured a few photos of this 1920s theater that show that the space is dusty—but still breathtaking.

The venue has been in limbo since about 2013, and the uncertainty about its future has some preservation advocates and local stakeholders nervous.

The property’s owner, Robertson Properties Group, has said that too much work needs to be done on the building, and that restoring it isn’t financially viable, says Kerry Morrison, the executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. Many, including the Los Angeles Conservancy, fear that the property is at risk of demolition.

Tony Arranaga, a spokerperson for Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, says the councilmember “wants to preserve this piece of Hollywood history” and see it reopened as an entertainment venue. O’Farrell’s office is meeting with Robertson Properties in “the coming weeks” to discuss ways that the theater could be revived, Arranaga says.

Some local business owners and preservationists have proposed that a study be done on the property to survey the extent of the repairs needed in order to restore the theater, and how viable an option it is to refurbish it, says Morrison.

Escott O. Norton of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation says that the owners have agreed “in principle” to fund the study, and though the details “are not set in stone ... I feel like we’ve made progress,” Norton says. He says the foundation and the preservation organization Hollywood Heritage have been working for two years to keep the idea of reopening the theater alive.

The movie palace opened in 1928 as the Warner Hollywood Theatre. It was designed by G. Albert Lansburgh, who did the interiors of the Wiltern, the Opheum, and the El Capitan.

The Warner Hollywood sustained significant damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and it stopped operating as a movie theater shortly after. It was used as a church and for infrequent movie screenings until it closed.