College Theatre

439 S. Hill Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Far West Theatres Inc.

Firms: Hunt & Burns

Styles: Neo-Classical

Nearby Theaters

College Theatre

One of the many long lost theatres that lined South Hill Street in downtown Los Angeles. The College Theatre was opened on December 14, 1910 with a matinee performance, and was operated by the Arthur S. Hyman circuit. From at least October 1912 it was operated by Thomas L. Tally. By 1926 it was operated by L. Lou Bard’s chain Far West Theatres Inc.

It was closed as a silent movie theatre around 1929.

In January 2005, the site was not occupied and is used as a parking lot.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 5, 2008 at 11:14 pm

The earliest references to the College Theatre in the California Index cite mentions in The Rounder, a weekly magazine. The September 17, 1910 issue features the theatre on its cover and on page 16 (my guess would be that this was on the occasion of the theatre’s opening), and the October 15 issue that year announces the appearance at the College Theatre of the Lillian May Lancaster Orchestra. Sounds as though it was not yet a movie house.

The only reference I can find on the Internet to a Lillian May Lancaster is one naming her the composer, lyricist and performer of a song called “Laura” published in 1907, and giving her the aka Maude Leota Byrd. Well, now she’ll have a reference at Cinema Treasures, too. Hey, Lilly May fans!

kencmcintyre on August 31, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Here is a 1923 architect’s sketch of the Subway Terminal building. It looks like they photoshopped the theater out of the drawing:

kencmcintyre on November 18, 2008 at 10:39 pm

This is an April 1928 ad from the LA Times. Not much to do with the College, saving that Mr. Bley’s office was a block away, but it’s an interesting snapshot of pre-Depression America.


Be a movie theater owner. Big opportunity. Moderate capital required. Houses low as $1500. Easy terms.

345 So. Hill Street, Ground floor.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 1, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Judging from this photo, probably taken between 1928 and 1930, it looks as though the College Theatre might have been converted to retail use even before the old California Club (foreground, on the corner) was demolished. At least the facade of the building (adjacent, to the right of, the California Club) had been flattened and de-decorated, and it looks like there are ordinary store awnings in front, rather than a theater marquee.

Photo is another from the Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive.

kencmcintyre on April 26, 2009 at 6:10 pm

The market may be the former theater in this 1955 photo from the USC archives:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 18, 2009 at 9:03 pm

The market in the 1955 photo was too far up the block to have been in the theater building. The theater was adjacent to the California Club’s building at the corner of 5th, and the market was several doors north. You can see it in the photo I linked to in my previous comment.

HughMN on February 9, 2010 at 12:35 am

According to references copied from Motion Picture World, T.L. Tally ran this theater from at least October, 1912.

The following item appeared in Motion Picture World, Vol. 14, No. 7, 16 November, 1912 (page 653):

I have located the hardest working, most intelligent picture pianist in Los Angeles. She is employed at the COLLEGE THEATRE (a Tally theater on South Hill) and I go there often not so much to see the pictures as to hear her play them, for she not only employs judgment and originality in making the music fit the scenes, but is an artist besides — has tone and temperament. I am told by the management that her name is Ruby Wallberg.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Here is an item announcing the proposed College Theatre, from the Los Angeles Herald, September 11, 1910:


“The moving picture enterprise has finally struck South Hill street. Soon an ornate theater building will be erected on the Dr. West Hughes lot, 40x120 feet, just north of the California club, corner of Hill and Fifth streets. Through the agency of William P. Ferris of 406 West Seventh street Dr. Hughes' lot has been leased for a period of ten years to A. S. Hyman and Charles Prochazko at rental aggregating $100,000. The lessees of the lot will begin the erection of a high class picture theater building at once. The lot leased is on the west side of Hill street, halfway between the Los Angeles-Pacific railway station and Fifth street.”

$10,000 a year was an impressive sum for Dr. Hughes to be earning from his small lot in the 1910s. You could buy a suburban lot and put up a nice, six room bungalow on it for half that then.

Nathan on November 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I have seen 439 and 441 listed as its address, but its address was 447/449, as per the Baists map. The flattened facade from Joe Vogel’s 2009 comment seems to remain here, though modernized, in this ca. 1957 slide image.

The 1951 Sanborn has this restaurant as 449/451, though a sign on it says 447. I keep looking at that ghost sign to see if I can ascertain “COL” as the first three letters of “College”…

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