The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Hippodrome mystery

A trip to the archives clears up the mystery about what became of the Hippodrome. As I suspected, the back of the theater was demolished, but the facade was saved.

 

Hippodrome_1952_1020_lat_bw
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times
Notice that the Main Street Gym doesn't seem to have set up business yet (the sign over the door reads "Here Television," although a 1984 article says that the gym moved to 318 1/2 S. Main in 1951 after its old building across the street burned down). There's a cafe at 318 S. Main, which was replaced with Mexico Luggage and a barbershop by 1984.

Notice that the building was also called the Adolphus Theatre. This is another mystery. According to The Times, the Adolphus opened on Main Street "across from the Belasco" (335 S. Main St). on Nov. 27, 1911. It vanished from the clips after July 14, 1912. The Hippodrome opened Aug. 31, 1913. A one-year gap would allow for construction of another theater (the Hippodrome seated 3,000 while the Adolphus seated 1,450), but I can't find anything in the clips. Stay tuned...

 

Hippodrome_1952_1026_jack_carrick3
Photograph by Jack Carrick / Los Angeles Times
And here's the demolition of the Hippodrome's proscenium, Oct. 26, 1952.

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Comments (1)

I see that this is an old post I missed, but I might as well wake it up since I have a bit more information about the place.

The Adolphus Theatre was built by Adolph Ramish, who would later partner with the Gore Brothers and Sol Lesser, as well as San Francisco theatre impresarios Turner, Dahnken, and Langley, to form West Coast Theatres, which in turn became Fox-West Coast Theatres, long the dominant movie chain in California.

The Adolphus' auditorium was erected on the site of the Panorama, a round building originally designed to house, and named for, a peculiar attraction popular during the 19th century. Here's a link to a review of a book about panoramas, which can explain them much better than I can.

After housing the panorama for some years, the building was used for various things, including a skating rink, poultry exhibits, and as a stable, which it was when this photo was taken of the Main Street facade in the 1890s.

As for the temporary disappearance of the Adolphus, I can only speculate that perhaps Ramish merely converted the original building to a theatre for a couple of years before demolishing it and building the house that eventually became the Hippodrome. He had planned to demolish the Panorama Building as early as 1907, when an article about his intentions appeared in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, cited on this card in the California Index. He apparently didn't get around to it for quite some time.

Note: I see that the HTML links in my comment don't appear in the preview. If they don't post, you'll just have to take my word for it that the sources I cited exist.


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