Highland Theatre Building, Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #549
Built: 1924 Declared: 10/02/1991
The Highland Theatre, built for Clyde M. Church, a local banker, is an outstanding example of Moorish theater architecture in the Los Angeles area, has been the cultural heart of downtown Highland Park for almost a century. Actress Norma Shearer, the first person to be nominated five times for an Academy Award, hosted its opening. Designed by L.A. Smith, who also designed the Rialto in South Pasadena, the Beverly in Beverly Hills, the Vista Theatre as well as a number of projects for Fox West Coast such as the El Portal and the Fox Ritz, as of 2017, the Highland is one of eight Smith-designed theaters still in operation as theaters. The Highland Theatre features arched openings, decorative tile walls and wrought-iron work on its exterior. Inside, the theater retains original large ceiling frescoes and elaborate moldings in the shape of Spanish arches. Opened in 1925 as a vaudeville house, the Highland has a complete stage, dressing rooms and balcony, all hidden for decades.