Clunes Auditorium

427 W. 5th Street; Los Angeles, CA

427 W. 5th Street was originally the site of Hazard’s Pavilion, a large entertainment hall built in 1887.
What became The Auditorium was begun as a Baptist Church, but by its completion on November 7th, 1906
it opened to the strains of “Aida” instead of hymnals.

Besides having one of the largest stages in the west, The Auditorium's 2700 seat interior featured one of
the largest balconies ever built without columns, thus giving all rear orchestra seats an uninterrupted view.
The beautifully ringed proscenium arch was lined with lights, and hid the 6000 pipes of an immense organ.

In 1914 the Auditorium was taken over by film pioneer William “Billy” Clune and it briefly became a movie theatre,
one of the largest movie palaces west of New York. Clunes also began the trend of preceding a movie with a live,
vaudeville-style show built around a theme matching that of the film, and for the opening of D.W. Griffith’s
“Birth of a Nation” he had a full orchestra playing the original score.

The house remained Clune’s Auditorium (often referred to in Clune’s ads and publicity releases as “Clune’s Theatre
Beautiful”, as in the program below) for five years. In 1920, Clune gave up management and the Auditorium again
became available for live performances and church services. (Evidently church services were still being held even
during The Auditorium’s years as a movie theatre.)

In 1921 the Auditorium also became the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and several years later by the
Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, both of which stayed in the Auditorium until they moved to the new Los Angeles
Music Center in 1965. Although church services continued to be held there, it was never again used as a theatre.

The Auditorium exterior was remodeled in 1938 in Art Deco style, and during another remodeling the interior was
altered with false walls and a dropped ceiling. A complete restoration project was attempted in the 1980s, but
abandoned. In 1985 the theatre was razed for an office-building project, which was also later abandoned.

The site of the first great movie palace in the west then became a parking lot.

- The Auditorium - 1906 -

Programs from this theatre:

"Hearts Of The World"

(1918 silent film by D.W. Griffith, starring Lillian Gish and John Cosgrove)

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