From films to pharmacy — L.A. Golden Gate Theatre

Another conversion, this time with some awareness and sensitivity. An east coast friend sent the link.

“At Sunday’s much-anticipated opening of the  new CVS Pharmacy store inside the old Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles, all eyes were up. . .”


  1. Gary Parks

    This conversion very much looks like what was done the the similarly-sized Rivoli, in Berkeley. It has been retail since the 50s, but the dropped ceiling was removed in the mid-90s and the upper portions of the auditorium repaired and somewhat restored. The Rivoli was not included on the 2008 Conclave (it’s about a mile South of the Cerrito Theatre, on the same street), because at that time it was closed and For Lease.

  2. Over the 20 years the theatre was vacant, there were numerous efforts in the community to save the theatre, which is listed on the National Register. The community values the building. At least one feasibility study was done. In the end, the rehab was costly and potential paying users were scarce. In the meantime, the building was rotting. Demolition by neglect. The Conservancy, led by Mike Buhler, and LA Historic Theatre Foundation waged a major battle to preserve the structure with the very real threat that CVS would walk away and the building would be condemned. A list of sensitive and reversible adaptive re-use projects was presented to prove that commerce and preservation could co-exist. This adaptive re-use, while not ideal, will allow for the building to rise again as a theatre. The inevitable consolidation of the 3 drug chains looms and their over-building may make the theatre available in less than 50 years. An important precedent was set for other communities where these chains are demolishing historic structures in their unsustainable expansion. No, this is not ideal. Would this theatre have been saved and restored in a more affluent community? Perhaps. Bottom line: an important historic theatre is still standing, largely intact, and is a viable candidate for return to its original use in the future.

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