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Old Posted Apr 22, 2013, 4:59 AM
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Flyingwedge Flyingwedge is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Los Angeles
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Merced Theatre

Last week it was announced that the long-vacant Merced Theatre at 420 N. Main Street will be renovated into the new home of Cityview, the government-access TV channel in Los Angeles. Here's the news article:,3143182.story

Merced Theatre . . . this is your life!

You were designed by Ezra F. Kysor, architect of your next-door neighbor, the Pico House. You were built by William Abbott, the son of Swiss immigrants who came to Los Angeles in 1854. He named you after his wife, Maria Merced Garcia, whom he married in 1858. You were completed on December 31, 1870 and hosted the first professional engagement in your second-floor auditorium on January 30, 1871. Here's a photo dated December 1, 1869, showing your lot before you were constructed (BTW, Pico House construction was 9/18/69 - 6/9/70):

USC Digital Library - (and posted by ER way back on p. 21)

From 1871 to 1876 you served as the center of theatrical activity in Los Angeles. This photo of you is dated c. 1876, but may be a little earlier:


You closed as a theater January 1, 1877, due to competition from the new Woods Opera House (known as the Club Theater from 1883) four doors south and due to a smallpox epidemic. Perhaps this photo, given different dates by different sources, is around 1876:


In this c. 1880 photo, your banner says "Dancing Academy":


In 1888 were you the scene of a different kind of drama, given that you housed both the Salvation Army and a wholesale liquor business?:

Sanborn Map @ LAPL

By 1894 the wholesale liquor business had won out, eh?:

Sanborn Map @ LAPL

By 1906 you had new tenants:

Sanborn Map @ LAPL (Pssst. Party after school at 420 Sanchez Street. Pass it on.)

Here you are in c. 1909:

USC - (also posted by ER on p. 21)

Do you remember how you looked back around 1920?:


And do you remember when your neighbor was called Old Pico House?:


Was it especially windy on North Main back in the mid-40s? Seems like a lot of pedestrian-ensaring guy wire there:

LAPL - (MichaelRyerson posted a similar photo last August:

In this 1960 photo it looks like you and your southern neighbor, the 1858 Masonic Hall, are about to get some TLC:


By 1968 you looked a lot better, at least on the outside:


And in August 2012:


Good luck to you, Merced Theatre. I hope you last another 143 years. Now if they'd just open up the Pico House . . . .

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More info here: and here
More info, old and new pics, and plans here:
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