Tuesday, May 15, 2012

La Paloma Theatre, 471 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

Built in 1927/1928 by Frank E. Brown as a silent movie house with 540 seats in orchestra and a small balcony level. The architect was Edward J. Baum. 
The theater was formally opened on February 11, 1928 with a showing of the first 'talking' motion picture in the San Diego area "The Cohens and Kelleys in Paris". The gala event was attended by Hollywood starlet and soon to be Academy Award winner Mary Pickford. It has been rumored that she rode her bicycle all the way to La Paloma Theatre from the Fairbanks Ranch for the event.(2)

Charlie Chaplin once performed here.

La Paloma (The Dove)  was one of the first theatres to show "Talkies." Talking pictures premiered in 1927 with the Warner Bros. film "The Jazz Singer" starring Al Jolson.(1)

A Kilgen theater organ opus 4029 size 2/5 style U012 was installed in the La Paloma Theater in 1928.
Making the transition from silent pictures to 'talkies' didn't happen overnight, so the La Paloma Theatre was also equipped with a beautiful pipe organ, a standard piece of equipment during the Silent era. Films in the early days of motion pictures were usually preceded by a vaudeville stage act, and La Palmoa Theatre was well suited for that.

The La Paloma closed in 1967 for several years of declining attendance and a conversion to Mexican films two nights a week. Two brothers reopened the theater in the heady days of 1968 and took out the seats and installed "beds" which were sort of two-person chaise lounges with a top that held your drinks and snacks. They finally gave it up and it closed again...only to re-open with regular theater seats.

The train runs right behind the theater so at least a few times during the show the theater will shake slightly & you'll hear the sound of the horn blow in the background of the production. To this day it remains a wonderful place to go see a film, though not with the fanciest of sound systems nor with reclining bucket captain's chairs or anything ... it is old school cool, it is amazing.
This cute, slightly rundown (yet in a charming way) theatre appears to be owned and operated by a guy and his dog. The man who sells you your ticket is also the man who sells you your concession, and seems to also be the one who starts the projector.

This theatre is independent in every sense of the word. Independently owned and operated, showing independent and foreign films that you won't get to see anywhere else. (Also, the dog is really, really sweet.)
There were no previews, no commercials - you show up, watch see the movie, and you're done. What a concept!

The best seat in the house was the balcony, but that has been closed off since a movie-goer jumped off it and died back when "Catch Me If You Can" with Leo DeCaprio was playing.

Jerry performed here on
12/27/85  JGB
12/28/75 early and late shows JGB
2/21/76 early and late shows JGB
2/22/76 early and late shows JGB

2.)^Chad, Jfloyd Waggaman, http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/1922

1 comment:

  1. http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2010/06/december-27-28-1975-la-paloma-theater.html?m=1

    great theater. hosts lots of surf movies. we saw vanilla sky here in the early 2000s. your descriptions are spot on! I found one of the shows, 76 early and late. the tempo on all the songs (see knockin on heavens door, omg) are insanely slow, but it works. theres a funny garcia story, super brief, about one of the shows. apparently he was disatisfied w the locally provided mics...