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Have Some Popcorn with Your Architecture on National Popcorn Day

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Friday, January 19th, 2018 at 10:05am.

Movie theaters hold such an iconic place in America’s cultural landscape that it’s hard to imagine a time without them. What began in 1894 with a short kinetoscope viewer in a New York City phonograph store, then growing with the vaudeville movement at the turn of the century, the movie palace created its own style and architectural impact on each city’s scene.

Since movies and popcorn go together like avocado and toast, we thought that National Popcorn Day would be a fun time to launch into some fast facts about movie theaters and their architecture, starting in our own Nook Neighborhoods. Even the LA Zoo gets festive for this tasty holiday!

  • In 1923 it was built as the Linda Lea Vaudeville House, also recently known as the ImaginAsian Center. Now reborn as the Downtown Independent Theater, this two-story vertical, modern look stands out in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo district. The glass and aluminum exterior prepare you for a lobby and viewing experience that magically combines all the nostalgia of the cinema with a clean and modern design.

  • The Yost Theater in Downtown Santa Ana has stories beyond your imagination. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it also began by presenting vaudeville shows, then silent movies and talkies once they came on the scene. The 1950s brought an age of Mexican cinema and live performers, then a church in the early 2000s until it reopened under The City of Santa Ana’s leadership. Retaining its art deco architecture was important to the community, but the interior was entirely renovated and modernized for its new life as a multi-use facility.

  • The Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara fits right into the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style in which the city was rebuilt after the 1925 earthquake, with an Art Deco flair. Designed by the local firm Edwards and Plunkett, the Arlington feels like a Comandante could emerge from the elaborate staircases at any moment.

  • Designed by Timothy L. Pflueger, The Castro Theater sports a Spanish Colonial Baroque facade, much like its neighboring Bay Area movie palaces that Pflueger also built and the Mission Dolores. Known for the wide array of film festivals it hosts, its facade was restored during the filming of Milk a 2008 biopic on the life of Harvey Milk. The Castro also had the honor to premiere the film.

  • Paramount Enterprises chose Miami as the site for their South Florida theater in 1924, with John Ebersole as the designer. They named it The Olympia Theater after its Mediterranean style, and it’s enjoyed numerous revivals as the times change. In 2012 the American Institute of Architects included The Olympia in Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

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