In a dramatic reversal of fortune, Main Street’s long-beleaguered Regent Theater has begun its new life as a permanent concert venue. Completed near the end of the building’s centennial year, the much-anticipated mid-November reopening marks the most recent milestone in the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles’ Historic Core.
The Regent opened in 1914 as a first-run film theater during Main Street’s heyday as the heart of the city’s entertainment district. Originally built in a Classical Revival style (reminiscent of the nearby Cameo), its façade was replaced in the early 1940s by its current minimalist Moderne exterior. Like many of the central city’s forgotten movie houses, the Regent operated as a pornographic theater for several decades during its neighborhood’s late-century nadir, before closing its doors in 2000.
The building first showed signs of rebirth in 2006, when its lease was acquired by downtown developer Tom Gilmore. Although it received several facelifts and temporary uses as an event space and pop-up record store, the structure remained largely vacant. Following its long-term lease in 2012 to developer and concert promoter Mitchell Frank, the Regent has undergone an extensive rehabilitation, including a seismic retrofit and the reconstruction of its two Main Street storefronts. Now carrying a darker color scheme, the repainted façade is livened up by a playful Modernist tile pattern applied to its second-floor stucco panels.
A more detailed history and photo collection of the Regent [Historic L.A. Theatres]
A glimpse of the Regent’s original façade in an overhead view [LAPL Images]
1. Richardson, Eric. “Regent Theater hosting pop-up record store by White Stripes’ Jack White.” Blogdowntown. 24 Aug. 2009. http://blogdowntown.com/2009/08/4623-regent-theater-hosting-popup-record-store.
2. Fuentes, Ed. “A new mural for Main Street.” Blogdowntown. 1 Feb. 2008. http://blogdowntown.com/2008/02/3100-a-new-mural-for-main-street.
3. Gross, Linda. “Avant-Garde Film in an X neighborhood.” Los Angeles Times. 20 Sep. 1980. B6.
4. Kim, Eddie. “The Regent’s rocking return.” Los Angeles Downtown News. 10 Nov. 2014. http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/the-regent-s-rocking-return/article_6e5c02a4-66c9-11e4-b8d4-479ae7fd3c00.html.
Original photo: Schall, Martin. “Regent Theatre.” You-Are-Here.com. http://www.you-are-here.com/theatre/regent.html.