4315 Melrose Avenue,
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Architects: Elimar E.B. Meinardus
Functions: Community Center
Styles: Renaissance Revival
Previous Names: Jensen's Melrose Theatre
Henry C. Jensen & Sons were brick manufacturers, based in the Pasadena/Glendale area. In 1914 they branched out into the movie theatre business, building Jensen’s Theatorium, Echo Park (1912), Palace Grand in Gendale (1914-1921), Jensen’s Raymond Theatre, Pasadena (1921-1957) and Jensen’s Recreational Hall, Sunset Boulevard.
Their third theatre was Jensen’s Melrose Theatre, opened in 1924. Designed as ‘a better class’ neighborhood movie theatre, specifically for movies, it has no stage house. The silent movies were accompanied by a Link 2 manual, 4 rank theatre organ and a ten-piece orchestra. The external brickwork is of a very high standard, even the side walls of the parade of shops adjoining the theatre and the theatre’s facade are covered in very high quality terra-cotta tiling, the name of the theatre is shown in the tile-work across the top of the facade.
It was managed for many years by Fox West Coast Theatres and during the mid-1950’s it was here at the Melrose Theatre where Russell McCullough developed his Cinemiracle, 3-strip widescreen process. This was a cheaper, and actually superior, form of the 3-projection system to rival the Cinerama system, but only one movie was ever made in Cinemiracle. This was “Windjammer” which premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood in 1958. The Cinerama Company saw Cinemiracle as a competitor to their own system and they ‘bought out’ the Cinemiracle process and shelved it.
The Melrose Theatre closed in 1959 and it was purchased by the Ukrainian Cultural Center, who transformed the building between 1959 and 1961 into their main Los Angeles headquarters, which officially opened on February 12, 1961.
The main orchestra floor has been leveled to allow for use as a dancing or banqueting space and the balcony and projection suite has been sealed off and converted into classrooms. The building is now in regular use for the community and money is raised by renting out the hall for dances and social events. It is well maintained and retains most of its original decorative features.
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