Wednesday, October 19, 2005
the turn of the Century, a boarding house once stood where the
Raymond Theatre stands today. The land was later sold to the
Pasadena Odd Fellows where a billboard stood on the property for
many years. Between 1918 and 1919 the land was sold to The
Jensen Theatre Corporation as the new site for Jensen's Raymond
Jensen's Raymond Theatre project was announced to the press in
late 1919 and the groundbreaking ceremony was held on December
10th of that year. The Jensen Theatre Corporation included
prominent Pasadenians Henry C. Jensen, B.O. Kendall, Willis M.
Eason, L.A. Parmele, L.H. Turner and Henry D. Meyer.
Raymond Theatre was designed by notable Pasadena architect Cyril
Bennett (1891-1957). The majority of construction took place
between 1920 and 1921, supervised by Pasadena contractor William
Crowell. The Raymond was the built in a rare Adams and Beaux
Arts style, with indoor fountains, spiral ramps leading to the
mezzanine, orchestra balconies and intricate auditorium and
1919, The Jensen Theatre Corporation also purchased the vacant
lot south of the theatre, which was described as an "auto park,"
a function this parcel still retains to this day.
grand opening of Jensen's Raymond Theatre was held on April 5,
1921, with a gala vaudeville performance. It was heralded as one
of the great legitimate theatres on the West Coast, which
presented the top vaudeville performers of its day. With a
2000-seat capacity, The Raymond Theatre was packing them in,
with three shows a day, including a matinee, afternoon and late performances
second phase of the Raymond Theatre's life began on February 13,
1948 when Jensen's Theatre Corporation sold The Raymond Theatre
to The Crown Holding Corporation and it was reopened as The
Crown Theatre. From 1948 to 1974, the Raymond was Pasadena's
premier movie house. As stated by the local Pasadena Star
News, "The size of the Crown movie theatre put it in a class of
its own, to rival only Grauman’s Chinese, The Los Angeles, Lowes
State and the Million Dollar theatres in Los Angeles and
1976 Bruce E. Barkis acquired The Crown Theatre under a
lease-purchase agreement with the owners, who were the Crown
Holding Corporation. Though movies were still being shown, live
performances were also popular. The Crown continued to present
live plays, music and movies and many joint productions were
presented with civic, business and educational organizations.