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Theatre Architects

Theatre Architects


Here you can find out about the architect firms and individual architects associated with the theatres featured on this website.



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Adler and Sullivan Adler and Sullivan

Adler & Sullivan was an architectural firm founded by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. It is known for designing the Auditorium Building in Chicago and the Wainwright Building in St Louis. In 1883 Louis Sullivan was added to Adler’s architectural firm, creating the Adler & Sullivan partnership.

Dankmar Adler was born in Stadt Lengfeld, Saxony on 3rd July 1844. At the age of 17 he emigrated to Chicago. After serving in the Civil War, he apprenticed with Augustus Bauer, and Ozias Kinney. He then associated with Edward Burling before practicing Architecture under his own name. Successful in his own right, Adler hired young Louis Sullivan during the building boom following the Great Chicago Fire. Sullivan served as Adler’s chief draughtsman for the Borden Block. By 1893 Sullivan was Adler’s full partner.

Louis Henri Sullivan was born on 3rd September 1856 in Boston. At the age of 16, he spent a year at MIT and then travelled to work with Frank Furness in Philadelphia. He moved to Chicago in 1873, working briefly with William LeBaron Jenney. Sullivan then spent three months at the Ecole des Beaux Arts before returning to Chicago in 1875, where he worked for Johnston and Edelman before joining Dankmar Adler.

Adler was German and Jewish with strong ethnic ties in Chicago and an interest in acoustics. French-trained Sullivan, arriving from Boston, was the artist. Together from 1880 until 1895 Adler & Sullivan produced more than 180 buildings and some of Chicago’s most important and most loved Architecture.

Adler left the partnership in 1895, a victim of the financial depression that followed the World’s Columbian Exposition. Adler & Sullivan continued to collaborate, but were never again partners. Adler died of a stroke in 1900. Sullivan survived until 14th April 1924, when he died penniless, alcoholic, and alone in a hotel room.

Information sourced from The Chicago Loop Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:



Harrison Albright Harrison Albright

Born: 1866 (Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania)

Died: 1932 (Los Angeles, California)

Harrison Albright was an American architect best known for his innovative design of the West Baden Springs Hotel in Orange County, Indiana, which boasted the largest free-spanning dome in the world at the time of its construction.

Albright moved to Charleston, West Virginia in 1891 and was architect for the State of West Virginia in addition to designing residential projects. As State architect he designed an annex to the State Capitol, a state asylum at Huntington, West Virginia, the Miners’ Hospital in Fairmont, West Virginia and buildings at Shepherd University and the Preparatory Branch of West Virginia University at Keyser.

In 1901, Albright was hired by Indiana hotelier Lee Wiley Sinclair to design the landmark West Baden Springs Hotel which included the 200-foot-diameter (61 m) steel and glass dome which would be the largest free-spanning dome in the world until 1913 and the largest in America until the construction of the Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1955.

In 1905, Albright moved his architectural practice to California, working in Los Angeles and San Diego, as early proponent of reinforced concrete construction. Albright’s 1905 Annex to the Homer Laughlin Building on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles was the city’s first reinforced concrete building.

John L. Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, was employed in the Albright firm.

Harrison Albright retired from architecture for health reasons in 1925 and died in 1932.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



John C. Austin John C. Austin

Born: 1870 (Bodicote, UK)

Died: 1963 (Pasadena, California)

Austin was born in Bodicote, Oxfordshire, England and was an apprentice to architect Williams S. Barwick in the late 1880s.

Around age 18 Austin moved to the United States and worked as a draftsman for architect Benjamin Linfoot of Philadelphia from 1891–1892, before briefly returning to the UK in 1892 and then relocating to San Francisco where he was a draftsman at Mooser and Devlin from 1892-1895.

Austin moved to Los Angeles in 1895 and ultimately became one of the city’s leading architects, his work in the city including the Fremont Hotel, the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles City Hall, and the Guaranty Building, NBC Radio City Studios, and Hollywood High School in Hollywood.

Austin was also active in the civic affairs in Los Angeles. He was elected President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in 1930, where he initiated a public-art campaign to beautify the city through the erection of statuary and monuments.

Austin also served as the President of the State Board of Architectural Examiners, a member of the National Labor Board responsible for labor disputes in Southern California, President of the Southern California Historical Society, President of the Jonathan Club, and a 32nd degree Mason. In 1949, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce presented Austin with its first ever Achievement Award. In 1963, Los Angeles Mayor Samuel Yorty presented Austin with a scroll commending him “for serving in an outstanding manner as a distinguished architect”.

Austin died in 1963 at his home in Pasadena, California.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



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C. Howard Crane C. Howard Crane

Born: 1885 (Connecticut)

Died: 1952 (London, UK)

Crane specialized largely in theatre and auditorium design and became a leading designer in the 1920s.

Crane opened an architectural practice in Detroit, MI, developing a specialty in the design of movie theatres. He has been credited with designing over 200 theatres, with about 25% of them located in the Detroit metropolitan area. He was practicing in 1919 (perhaps earlier) in the Dime Bank Building, Detroit.

Around 1932, Crane moved to England, but retained an office in Detroit. Before World War II, Crane designed theatres in the UK such as the Earl’s Court Arena in London (seating 30,000 and one of his largest works). During the war Crane designed munitions plants for the British military.

In 1951, Crane supervised studio construction for 20th Century Fox. He died at his residence in London at the age of 67.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:




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James Davidson

Born: 1848 (Airdrie, Scotland)

Died: 1923 (Glasgow, Scotland)

James Davidson was born in Airdrie in 1848, the son of a weaver. He was educated at Airdrie Academy and initially trained as a joiner. In his teens he moved to Glasgow to attend the classes in the Athenaeum in Ingram Street, and while acting as foreman joiner on Flowerhill Parish Church in 1875 he impressed sufficiently to be made master or works for other Baird Trust church building projects. This enabled him to be articled to Hugh Hough MacLure from 1875 to 1882 when he commenced practice on his own account in Coatbridge, immediately becoming architect to Coatbridge School Board and a prominent local mason achieving the position of master of St John’s Lodge within a very few years. He was elected a councilor in Coatbridge in 1889, became a Baillie, and by 1911 provost.

Davidson was elected FRIBA on 3 December 1906, his proposers being James Milne Monro, Alexander Cullen and Davis Barclay. He was a very competent free Renaissance designer and a specialist in the design and construction of theatres.

Davidson died in April 1923. The practice was continued by his son Alexander, born 1879, who was articled to him and studied at Coatbridge Technical school from 1894 to 1899 and at Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College from 1899 to 1902. He became his father’s partner in August 1908 and was elected LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, his proposers being his father, David Bateman Hutton and James Campbell Reid.

The practice name became James Davidson & Partners in the 1940s. In 1949 Alexander Smart Todd was taken into partnership. In 1953 on the death of the practice George Bruce Scotland, the practice J Scotland & Sons which was based in Airdrie was taken over by James Davidson & Son. The office in Airdrie was maintained until 1978. In 1960 Robert Robertson was taken into partnership and Robert William Marwick in 1966. At some point prior to 1957 the name of the practice changed again, this time becoming James Davidson & Son.

Information sourced from the Dictionary of Scottish Architects Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



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John Eberson John Eberson

Born: 1875 (Chernivtsi, Ukraine)

Died: 1954 (Stamford, CT)

John Eberson was born in 1875 to Austro-Hungarian parents in Chernivtsi, in what is modern-day Western Ukraine. He schooled in Dresden in Germany and then studied electrical engineering at the University of Vienna. Having spent 25 years in various parts of Europe, Eberson immigrated to the United States at the start of the 20th Century and settled in St Louis.

In 1910, Eberson, by then married with children, moved to Chicago. From there he increased his theatrical commissions including several for the Interstate Amusement Company run by Karl Hoblitzelle.

Eberson borrowed from his time spent in various European cities to inform his “continental” theatre designs which were not only popular, but found to be agreeable for staging both live vaudeville acts and screening silent movies with live accompaniment. A good extant example is the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, which first opened in 1915 as the Austin Majestic Theatre.

In later years Eberson became synonymous with the atmospheric theatre style, with many crediting the popularity of the style throughout the 1920s to his elaborate designs. Eberson declared the Majestic Theatre in Houston, Texas (completed in 1923) as his first atmospheric theatre, however we can see in his works between the Austin Majestic (now Paramount) and the Houston Majestic that Eberson was experimenting with designs which ultimately led to the atmospheric theatre concept.

In 1926, at the opening of the Tampa Theatre in Florida, Eberson stated “My idea for the atmospheric theater was born in Florida. I saw the value of putting nature to work and so have borrowed the color and design that are found in the flowers and the trees. The inhabitants of Spain and southern Italy live under the sun and enjoy the happiness nature affords them. So I decided their architecture probably would provide the firm foundation for a theater.”

Eberson also devised a business model which saw his own studio, staffed with dedicated master plasterers, create statuary, moldings, and architectural components which he would then re-use across multiple theatres, rearranging the separate elements into different settings, thereby reducing the cost of building a theatre simply through the economics of reuse.

The model also meant that Eberson could control the quality of product from start to finish by using his own master plasterers. Construction on-site was simplified and therefore costs reduced because ready-made statues and architectural elements arrived in crated packages and just needed assembled on-site by Eberson’s traveling construction team, and then painted.

Eberson’s last atmospheric was arguably his best: the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas, designed for Karl Hoblitzelle’s Interstate Amusement Company and completed with a penthouse apartment on the top of the building designed specifically for Mr Hoblitzelle.

Eberson died after a long illness at the age of 79 in Stamford, Connecticut, and was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum in Hartsdale, New York.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:





Abram M. Edelman

Born: 1863 (Los Angeles, California)

Died: 1941 (Los Angeles, California)

Edelman was the son of Abram Wolf Edelman, a migrant from Poland and the first rabbi of Los Angeles’ Congregation B’nai B’rith from 1862. He apprenticed with a San Francisco-based architect firm before returning to Los Angeles around 1884.

Edelman began his own practice in Los Angeles in the mid-1880s. He became a member of the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1902 and remained a member until 1941. Edelman was a Past-President of the State Association of Architects, Southern Branch, and was active on the State Board of Architectural Examiners.

Abram M. Edelman had been referred to in a number of sources as “Abraham M. Edelman” and “A.M. Edelman”.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



Ellerbe Becket

In 1988, Welton Becket Associates joined with Ellerbe Associates of Minneapolis, to form “Ellerbe Becket”. Franklin Ellerbe had founded the firm in 1909. At this merger, Ellerbe took control of Becket, and the headquarters moved to Minneapolis. Ellerbe Becket’s initial six offices were located in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and Tampa, FL.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:



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Frank Gehry Frank Gehry

Born: 1929 (Toronto, Canada)

Frank Owen Gehry, CC, FAIA is a Canadian-born American architect and designer. A number of his buildings, including his private residence, have become world-renowned attractions. His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture in the 2010 World Architecture Survey, which led Vanity Fair to label him as “the most important architect of our age”.

Gehry’s best-known works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France; MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies on the University of Cincinnati campus; Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle; New World Center in Miami Beach; Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; Dancing House in Prague; the Vitra Design Museum and the MARTa Herford museum in Germany; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; the Cinémathèque Française in Paris; and 8 Spruce Street in New York City.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



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Robert B. Kelly Robert B. Kelly

Born: 1893 (Carrizo Springs, Texas)

Died: 1932 (San Antonio, Texas)

Robert Bertram Kelly began his architectural career in 1912 as a draftsman for San Antonio architect H.A. Reuter. He moved to the A.A. Herff Company in 1914, returning briefly to Reuter’s firm in 1917.

After serving as Henry T. Phelps’s draftsman in 1918, Kelly entered into partnership with Harvey P. Smith in 1919, an association that lasted until circa 1922.

Around 1923, Kelly and partners Arthur A. Seeligson (attorney and financier) and builder H.C. Wood formed the Kelwood Company, a firm that both designed and built residential and commercial buildings.

The Kelwood Company was first listed in the 1926 San Antonio City Directory (there are no directories for 1923-25), advertising their work in architecture, construction, and financing. Seeligson served as president, Kelly as vice president, and Wood as secretary/treasurer. The firm appears to have functioned until 1930, perhaps impacted by the Depression.

Kelly practiced alone in 1931, and in 1932, he committed suicide.

Information sourced from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



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G. Albert Lansburgh G. Albert Lansburgh

Born: 1876 (Panama)

Died: 1969 (San Mateo, California)

Gustave Albert Lansburgh was an American architect largely known for his work on luxury cinemas and theatres.

Lansburgh was born in Panama and raised largely in San Francisco. After graduating from Boys High School in 1894, Lansburgh enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley. While a student there, he worked part-time in the offices of prominent San Francisco architect Bernard Maybeck. Upon graduation, he moved to Paris, where in 1901, he was enrolled in the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, earning a diploma in March 1906.

Lansburgh returned to the Bay Area in May 1906, one month after the region had been devastated by the San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fires. First in partnership with Bernard Julius Joseph for two years, then in his own practice, Lansburgh designed numerous buildings in the recovering city, including his first theatre for the San Francisco–based Orpheum Theatre Circuit. In his long career thereafter, Lansburgh become known primarily as a theatre architect and is known to have designed more than 50 theatres over his career, many for the Orpheum Circuit and its successor firm, RKO.

Lansburgh collaborated with Los Angeles-based architects Abram M. Edelman and John C. Austin on the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and with Arthur Brown Jr. on the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Although many of Lansburgh’s best-known works, including El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, were on the US West Coast, his personal favorite was said to have been the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (originally the Martin Beck Theatre) in New York City.

Information sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:








S. Charles Lee S. Charles Lee

Born: 1899 (Chicago, Illinois)

Died: 1990 (Los Angeles, California)

S. Charles Lee was born in Chicago, IL, in September 1899 as Simeon Charles Levi, son of Julius and Hattie Stiller Levi, German-Jewish immigrants. Lee graduated with Honors from Technical College, Chicago, IL, in 1920, and then from the Armour Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL, in 1921.

Lee was a draftsman at prolific theatre architects Rapp and Rapp (Chicago, IL) in 1921 and was licensed by State of Illinois to practice architecture in 1922. Around the same time Lee moved to Los Angeles, CA, opening his own architectural practice there one year later.

Lee married Miriam (Midge) Zelda Aisenstein in 1927. He later married Hylda Moss, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1966.

In 1962 Lee founded the S. Charles Lee Foundation, and established the S. Charles Lee Chair, UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Los Angeles, CA, in 1986.

Included in the "International Exhibit of Contemporary Architects," staged by Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), London, UK, 1934; Lee received the Presidential Medal, Order of Vasco Nuñez Balboa, Panama’s highest order of merit in 1968. Lee was named the Panamanian Vice-Consul, Beverly Hills, CA, by President of Panama, 1963, and named Consul in Beverly Hills for Panama in 1974.

Lee’s papers are housed in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Library, Department of Special Collections, Young Research Library, Collection #1384. According to its UCLA finding aid, the collection contained "...drawings, renderings, blueprints, photographs, and surveys relating to Lee’s professional career including his work as a developer and the most prolific architect of art deco movie palaces in Los Angeles."

Information sourced from the Pacific Coast Architecture Database Link opens in new window.

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Albert C. Martin, Sr. Albert C. Martin, Sr.

Born: 1879 (La Salle, Illinois)

Died: 1960 (Los Angeles, California)

Albert Carey Martin was an American architect and engineer. He founded the architectural firm of Albert C. Martin & Associates, now known as A.C. Martin Partners, and designed some of Southern California’s landmark buildings, including Los Angeles City Hall.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



Frank Matcham Frank Matcham

Born: 1854 (Newton Abbot, UK)

Died: 1920 (Westcliff-on-Sea, UK)

Frank Matcham was born in Devon; the son of a brewery clerk. He was brought up in Torquay where he went to Babbacombe school. In 1868 he became apprenticed to George Bridgman, a local builder and architect.

In the mid 1870’s he moved to London to join the architectural practice of Jethro Robinson who was consulting theatre architect to the Lord Chamberlain. In 1877 Matcham married Robinson’s daughter and the following year when Robinson died suddenly, the 24 year old Matcham found himself taking over the practice.

Matcham’s first major job was to complete the Elephant and Castle Theatre which Robinson had started. Following this, Matcham went from success to success and over the next 30 years he became unrivalled as the most prolific theatre architect of all time.

It is impossible to be definitive as to his total output, but based upon research Matcham designed at least 80 theatres as the original architect, and refitted or worked on at least as many again. He also designed some pubs, cinemas, hotels and notably the County Arcade in Leeds, and the Tower Ballroom and Circus in Blackpool.

Sadly, only some two dozen of his theatres survive with a further dozen having been drastically altered as bingo halls, nightclubs, cinemas, and suchlike.

Matcham never qualified as an architect and was snubbed by many in his profession, but he became the supreme example of his craft. Despite his vast output each theatre was unique, and his ability to produce magnificent theatres on difficult sites speedily and economically led him to become highly respected by theatre owners and managers. He developed close relationships with several, especially Sir Oswald Stoll for whom he designed his supreme masterpiece the London Coliseum in 1904 as the flagship venue for Stoll’s chain of theatres and Music Halls.

Frank Matcham: Brunel of the stage, by Dea Birkett Link opens in new window, is an excellent article published by The Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Information sourced from the Frank Matcham Society Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:






Meyer & Holler

Meyer and Holler, founded in 1906 as “The Milwaukee Building Company”, became known as “Meyer and Holler, Architects, Engineers and Builders” following World War I in 1923.

The company operated primarily in Los Angeles, California, and was busy designing office buildings and movie theatres during the 1920s. The company had connections with many film-related companies and significant local developers including Robert Marsh (1871-1956) and the Chapman Brothers.

The firm became overextended during the early 1930s, and a lawsuit brought by the producer King Vidor in 1932 worsened its financial straits. It declared bankruptcy in October 1932 and was reorganized on October 1934.

Mendel S. Meyer retired in 1936 but the firm continued operations until it was formally dissolved in April 1941.

Information sourced from the Pacific Coast Architecture Database Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:





Morgan, Walls & Clements

Morgan, Walls & Clements was an architectural firm based in Los Angeles, California and responsible for many of the city’s landmarks. The firm dates back to the late 19th century: originally Morgan and Walls with principals Octavius Morgan and John A. Walls, the firm worked in the area from before the turn of the century.

Around 1910 Morgan’s son O.W. Morgan was promoted, resulting in the firm Morgan, Walls and Morgan, the elder Morgan retired, and with the emergence of designer Stiles O. Clements (1883–1966) the firm hit its stride with a series of theatres and commercial projects. Clements often worked in Spanish Colonial Revival and Mayan Revival styles, but their major project was the black and gold Art Deco Richfield Tower in Downtown Los Angeles, a commanding presence from its 1928 completion to its 1969 destruction. Walls did not live to see the completion of the building as he had died in 1922.

Clements left the firm in 1937 to start his own practice, Stiles O. Clements & Associates, where he remained until his retirement in 1965.

Information sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window.

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Morgan, Walls & Morgan

This firm superseded the office of Morgan and Walls in Los Angeles and was active during the period 1910 to 1923.

Notable works includes the Garland Building (housing the Globe Theatre), the Savoy Hotel (demolished), and the Pantages Theatre Building.

In partnership with designer Stiles O. Clements (1883–1966) the firm became Morgan, Walls & Clements and hit its stride with a series of theatres and commercial projects.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:



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S. Tilden Norton S. Tilden Norton

Born: 1877 (Los Angeles, California)

Died: 1959 (Los Angeles, California)

Samuel Tilden Norton, or S. Tilden Norton as he was known professionally, was a Los Angeles-based architect active in the first decades of the 20th century. During his professional career he was associated with the firm of Norton & Wallis, responsible for the design of many Los Angeles landmarks.

Following his graduation from high school, Norton immediately began his professional training working as a draftsman for Edward Neissen, a Los Angeles architect. He later moved temporarily to New York City for further design apprenticeship work . Upon his return to Los Angeles, Norton founded his own architectural firm around 1902.

Norton was very involved in his community. He was a founder and charter member of the Hillcrest Country Club and served as a director of the Prudential Building and Loan Association. He was also a proud upholder of his faith, serving as president of the Board of Trustees of Congregation B’nai B’rith and other organizations. In addition, he was a director of the Federation of Jewish Welfare Organizations, the Jewish Welfare Fund, and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Norton was professionally active as well, having served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects which he had joined around 1912. He also wrote articles about houses for The Illustrated Magazine beginning in the early 1900s.

Information sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window.

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Charles J. Phipps Charles J. Phipps

Born: 1835 (Bath, UK)

Died: 1897 (London, UK)

Phipps was born in Bath, where he married Miss Honnor Hicks in 1860 and by whom he had two sons and three daughters.

Phipps’ first major work was rebuilding the Theatre Royal in Bath in 1862/3, after the old theatre had been destroyed by fire.

Phipps later moved to London and established himself as a leading theatrical architect. London theatres he designed include the Strand, Prince’s, Lyric, Garrick, Tivoli, Daly’s, and the original Shaftesbury Theatre.

Phipps was a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, serving on its council in 1875–6, and also of the Society of Antiquaries.

Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre is considered Phipps’ best preserved work due to its lack of substantial alterations since its opening in 1883. The Theatre Royal in Glasgow was one of his largest works, and Her Majesty’s Theatre in London was his last major work to be completed during his lifetime.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:






B. Marcus Priteca B. Marcus Priteca

Born: 1889 (Glasgow, Scotland)

Died: 1971 (Seattle, WA)

Priteca served an apprenticeship in Edinburgh under architect Robert MacFarlane Cameron from 1904–1909, and during this time earned degrees from the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Art. He emigrated to the United States, where he settled in Seattle, Washington, in 1909.

Priteca met Seattle vaudeville theatre owner Alexander Pantages in 1910 and won from him a commission to design the San Francisco Pantages Theater (1911), the first of many so-named vaudeville and motion picture houses in what would become one of the largest theater chains in North America.

In all, Priteca designed 22 theaters for Pantages and another 128 for other theater owners. Notable theaters include the Coliseum (1915) in Seattle; the Pantages (1918) in Tacoma, Washington; the Pantages (1920) in Los Angeles (downtown); the Pantages in San Diego (1924); the Pantages (renamed The Orpheum) (1926) in San Francisco (downtown); the Pantages (1928) in Fresno, California; the Paramount (1929) in Seattle; the Pantages (1929) in Hollywood (the last and largest of the Pantages theaters); the Warner on Pacific Boulevard in Huntington Park (1930); and the Admiral (1942) in West Seattle, and the Orpheum in Vancouver, Canada.

Priteca also designed the 1934 Grandstand and Clubhouse of Longacres Racetrack in Renton, Washington, which operated from 1935–1994 and has since been demolished.

Pantages is said to have liked Priteca as a theatre architect for his ability to create the appearance of opulence within a less-than-opulent budget. Pantages is quoted as saying: “Any damn fool can make a place look like a million dollars by spending a million dollars, but it’s not everybody who can do the same thing with half a million”.

Priteca’s apprentices included Gregory Ain, who went on to success as a modernist architect. Ain worked with Priteca for a short time in the late 1920s and helped draw the Los Angeles Pantages.

In 1951, Priteca became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He remained active as an architect well into his eighties, working as a consultant in the design of the Seattle Opera House (1962) and the Portland, Oregon, Civic Auditorium (1968).

Priteca died in Seattle on October 1, 1971. He was posthumously awarded honorary membership of the Theatre Historical Society of America.

Information primarily sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window.

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Rapp and Rapp

The architectural firm Rapp and Rapp was active in Chicago, Illinois during the early 20th century. Brothers Cornelius Ward Rapp (1861–1926) and George Leslie Rapp (1878–1941) of Carbondale, Illinois were the named partners and 1899 alumni of the University of Illinois School of Architecture. A third brother, Isaac Rapp, was also a well-known architect, primarily in Colorado and New Mexico.

The firm is well known as one of the leading designers of early 20th century movie palaces. It designed over 400 theatres, including the Fox West Theatre (1907) in Trinidad, Colorado, the Five Flags Theater, Dubuque, Iowa (1910), the Chicago Theatre (1921), Bismarck Hotel and Theatre (1926), Oriental Theater, Chicago (1926), and the Paramount Theatres in New York (1926) and Aurora (1931).

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:




David Rockwell David Rockwell

Born: 1956 (Chicago, Illinois)

David Rockwell, FAIA, has long harbored a fascination with immersive environments. He grew up in the theatre — his mother, a vaudeville dancer and choreographer, often cast him in community repertory productions. But when he was 12, David’s family had a dramatic scene change, moving from Deal, New Jersey to Guadalajara, Mexico. There he discovered a whole new world of vibrant marketplaces, street life, and public spaces.

After training in architecture at Syracuse University and the Architectural Association in London, David brought his passion for theatre and artistic eye for the color and spectacle of Mexico to his profession. Today, his work ranges from restaurants, hotels, airport terminals, and hospitals, to festivals, museum exhibitions, and Broadway sets.

David founded Rockwell Group in 1984. The 250-person award winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice is based in New York City, with satellite offices in Madrid and Los Angeles.

Information sourced from the Rockwell Group Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



Alfred F. Rosenheim Alfred F. Rosenheim

Born: 1859 (St Louis, Missouri)

Died: 1943 (Los Angeles, California)

Alfred Faist Rosenheim, FAIA was an architect born in St. Louis, Missouri and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He was one of the leading architects in Los Angeles in the early part of the 20th century. His major works include the Hellman Building, the Hamburger Department Store, Second Church of Christ Scientist and the Eugene W. Britt House.

Rosenheim belonged to the Western Association of Architects, a professional group pre-dating the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and was a leading member of the AIA in 1885. Rosenheim served as President of the Southern California Chapter of the AIA, and was made an AIA Fellow in 1889.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



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Lewis A. Smith

Born: 1869 (Ohio)

Died: 1958 (Los Angeles, California)

Smith worked on a number of Los Angeles area theatre buildings with Lilly and Fletcher Company as building contractors, and had an office in the Lilly and Fletcher Building in Los Angeles in 1924.

Smith worked extensively for the Bard’s and Fox West Coast chains in the 1920s and designed approximately 40 theatres in total during his career. Extant Los Angeles area theatres designed by Smith include the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz and the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:




Sumner M. Spaulding Sumner M. Spaulding

Born: 1892 (Ionia, Michigan)

Died: 1952 (Los Angeles, California)

Spaulding was born in Ionia (Michigan) into a farming family and moved to California just before turning 30. Spaulding initially worked as a draughtsman for Myron Hunt around 1921 before forming his own architect firm in 1923 and partnering with other architects the following year.

Spaulding collaborated with fellow architect Walter I. Webber on several projects including the Avalon Theatre and Ballroom on Catalina Island for chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., and two houses for prolific movie star Harold Lloyd.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



William G.R. (W.G.R.) Sprague William G.R. (W.G.R.) Sprague

Born: 1863 (Australia)

Died: 1933 (Maidenhead, UK)

Sprague was an articled clerk for Frank Matcham for four years, then in 1880 was an articled clerk for Walter Emden for three years. He was in a partnership with Bertie Crewe until 1895.

Sprague went on to design a large number of theatres and music halls, almost all of them in London. At the height of his career he showed a productivity worthy of mentor Frank Matcham, producing six theatres in Westminster in less than four years.

Unlike Matcham and Emden, Sprague studied architectural forms and conventions and used his knowledge in his designs, saying of himself that he “liked the Italian Renaissance” as a style for his frontages, but would take liberties when needed “to get the best effects”.

In 1902, the theatre newspaper The Era described Sprague as “Britain’s youngest theatrical designer, with more London houses to his credit than any other man in the same profession”.

Information primarily sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window.

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Edward Durell Stone Edward Durell Stone

Born: 1902 (Fayetteville, Arkansas)

Died: 1978 (New York, New York)

Edward Durell Stone was an American architect known for the formal, highly decorative buildings he designed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stone was the youngest of four children. He displayed an aptitude for drawing at an early age. After attending the University of Arkansas, Stone moved to Boston in 1922. He took classes at the Boston Architectural Club (now Boston Architectural College), Harvard University’s School of Architecture (where he earned a scholarship), and MIT, though he never earned a degree.

Stone began his career as a draftsman at the Boston-based firm Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch and Abbott. He moved to New York in 1929, joining the firm of Schultze & Weaver, where he designed the main lobby, grand ballroom, and private dining rooms of the Waldorf-Astoria. He received his first independent commission in 1933.

Stone traveled often to Italy and drew upon European precedents in his work. He became an early pioneer of the New Formalist style, whose classically inspired forms and materials countered the stark minimalism of the International Style.

Stone retired in 1974 and died on August 6, 1978. His firm, Edward Durell Stone & Associates, continued until 1993.

Stone’s best-known works include the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, the United States Embassy in New Delhi, India, the Keller Center at the University of Chicago, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Stone worked for the Associated Architects of Rockefeller Center and became the principal designer of Radio City Music Hall.

Information sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window and the Los Angeles Conservancy Link opens in new window.

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John D. Swanston

Born: 1868 (Dundee, Scotland)

Died: 1956 (Newton Mearns, Scotland)

John Daniel Swanston was born in Dundee in 1868 and educated at Dollar Academy. He was articled to William Simpson of Stirling c. 1884, thereafter being progressively assistant to Thomas Greenshields Leadbetter of Edinburgh (c. 1889-90), Alexander Cullen of Glasgow and Hamilton (probably c. 1891-92) and James Graham Fairley of Edinburgh (c. 1893-94), before commencing practice on his own account at 196 High Street, Kirkcaldy in 1895.

From at least 1896, Swanston practiced in partnership with George Lindsay Legge as Swanston & Legge, but Legge died some time between 1900 and 1903. A second partnership was formed with William Syme in 1904, the office being located in Redburn Wynd. From his earliest years in Kirkcaldy, Swanston was prominent in public life, becoming town councilor for the Second Ward and a burgess in November 1900. He was convener of the Street Committee from November 1904 to November 1908.

Like many other architects, Swanston was an enthusiastic volunteer and was commissioned in the 1st Forth Royal Garrison Artillery. After the First World War broke out, he was commissioned as a captain in the Black Watch and was for a time commandant of Lewes prisoner-of-war camp in Sussex.

Swanston was admitted FRIBA in February 1925. Syme predeceased Swanston, who thereafter practiced alone. He specialized in theatre, cinema and public house work, mostly in a bold neo-baroque or half-timbered neo-Tudor idiom.

Swanston retired in 1951 and made a last public appearance in November 1954 with a talk on the design of the King’s Theatre in Kirkcaldy and the changes made since he originally designed it in 1904. He died on 25 January 1956 at the home of his daughter Dr Muriel Swanston, who had taken him into her care.

Information sourced from the Dictionary of Scottish Architects Link opens in new window.

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W & T R Milburn

William Milburn (1858-1935) and his brother Thomas R. Milburn (1862-1943) formed their architectural partnership in 1897.

William and Thomas Milburn were the sons of Captain William Milburn, a ship-owner and shipping surveyor in Sunderland. William was articled to John Tillman of Sunderland and remained as assistant, studying at Sunderland School of Art. He commenced independent practice in Sunderland in 1879 at the early age of 21, but appears from his nomination form to have taken what was probably a short career break to study at the South Kensington Schools in 1880.

Thomas was born in 1861 and articled to John Tillman in 1877. He remained as assistant after the end of his articles but spent some time with Liverpool Corporation before setting up in practice in Sunderland in 1884 independently of his brother. In 1893 Thomas designed the first of his theatres, the Olympia in Newcastle upon Tyne (in association with Oliver & Leeson). Later that year the Milburn brothers began their association with the Moss Empires circuit by designing the South Shields Empire Palace, for which Frank Matcham was consultant. The experience gained at the Empire Palace made them the premier theatre firm in the north of England.

In 1896-97 William and Thomas merged their practices as W & T R Milburn. Following the death of Moss Empires’ favorite architect Frank Matcham in 1920, the Milburn brothers became the natural successor firm for new builds and renovation projects for the Stoll Moss group.

In 1925 Thomas Milburn embarked in Southampton for a trip to the United States where he would study the design and construction of the many new theatres and movie palaces being built across the country. His journey took him from New York to Chicago and San Francisco. In particular, he was impressed with the architectural work of Scottish born architect Thomas Lamb, the many new Loew’s State Theatres, San Francisco’s Fox Theatre, and the unique designs of Madison Square Gardens. Many of the concepts became inspiration to the subsequent designs of the Milburn practice.

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Walker and Eisen

Walker and Eisen based their architectural partnership in Los Angeles. Their firm was founded as an association among Albert Raymond Walker (1881-1958), Percy Augustus Eisen (1885-1946) and Charles M. Hutchison, Sr., (1881-1969), in late 1919.

The journal American Architect and Architecture reported: “Albert R. Walker, P.A. Eisen, Charles M. Hutchison, associated architects, of Los Angeles, Calif., have formed a partnership for practice under the firm name of Walker and Eisen”.

Hutchison left the association in 1921. In the 1920s and 1930s, Walker and Eisen worked on many theatre designs with Clifford A. Balch (1880-1963).

Information sourced from the Pacific Coast Architecture Database Link opens in new window.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:



Walter I. Webber

Born: 1864 (Massachusetts)

Died: 1943 (Los Angeles, California)

Webber was born in Massachusetts however was actively practicing on the US West Coast by the early 20th century. Webber collaborated with fellow architect Sumner M. Spaulding on several projects including the Avalon Theatre and Ballroom on Catalina Island for chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., and two houses for prolific movie star Harold Lloyd.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



Weeks and Day

The architectural firm of Weeks and Day operated in San Francisco, CA, from 1916 until 1930.

Previously, Charles Peter Weeks (1870-1928) had practiced alone in San Francisco.

After Weeks’s death in 1928, William Peyton Day (1883-1966) continued calling the firm “Weeks and Day” until 1930. Day continued to engage in architectural work, under his own name, until 1953.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:




Welton Becket and Associates

The firm of Welton D. Becket and Associates succeeded the firm of Wurdeman and Becket (1939-1949); it was continued by vWelton Becket Associates”, 1970-1988, following Welton Becket’s death in 1969. Offices were established in Los Angeles (1933), San Francisco (1949), New York (1950), and Houston (1960).

In the 1980s, the Welton Becket Office was sometimes referred to as the “Becket Group, Architects”. The primary name it went by in the professional literature was “Welton Becket Associates”, not “Welton D. Becket and Associates”.

In 1988, Welton Becket Associates joined with Ellerbe Associates of Minneapolis, to form “Ellerbe Becket”. Franklin Ellerbe had founded the firm in 1909. At this merger, Ellerbe took control of Becket, and the headquarters moved to Minneapolis. Ellerbe Becket’s initial six offices were located in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and Tampa, FL.

Theatres on this website in which this architect firm was involved:



William H. Wheeler

Born: 1874 (Melbourne, Australia)

Died: 1956 (San Diego, California)

Australian-born Wheeler was educated in Melbourne where he also studied architecture, before emigrating to Canada in late 1893. Wheeler relocated to San Francisco by 1900 however after the devastating earthquake of 1906 he moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he was the supervising architect for the Southern Pacific Railway from 1907 to 1912.

In late 1912 or early 1913 Wheeler moved to San Diego from where he would operate a successful firm for 30 years. In San Diego, Wheeler is known for the Balboa Theatre (opened 1924), the Eagle’s Masonic Hall (both the original building in 1917 and the remodeling completed in 1934), Temple Beth Israel Synagogue (1926), and All Saints Episcopal Church (1928). Wheeler also designed the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles (1922).

In the late 1920s Wheeler founded the San Diego chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects). Around the same time he was appointed by the Governor of California as President of the State Board of Architecture, a title he would hold for eight years.

Wheeler was an accomplished operatic and vaudeville performer in his own right, and it is thought that his familiarity with entertainment and the arts led to some of the performance-enhancing features of the places of entertainment he designed, such as generously-sized orchestra and performer accommodations and favorable acoustics.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



William Lee Woollett William Lee Woollett

Born: 1873 (Albany, New York)

Died: 1955 (Los Angeles, California)

William Lee Woollett was an American architect practicing mainly in California. He designed theatres in Los Angeles in the 1920s including the largest movie theater ever built in Los Angeles, Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre which opened in 1923.

Woollett was born in Albany, New York to William M. and Sarah Louise Woollett (née Knappen). His father died when he was seven years old.

Around 1892, Woollett studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He apprenticed as a draftsman for Fehmer & Page, Architects, Boston, MA (1892-1896).

Woollett returned to Albany in 1896 to open his office. He was joined a few years later by his younger brother, John Woodward Woollett, also an architect. Together, they founded the firm, Woollett and Woollett Architects becoming the 3rd consecutive generation of Woolletts to practice architecture in Albany. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Woollett and Woollett opened a branch office in San Francisco. William Woollett moved his family to Berkeley in 1908 and closed the Albany office. Woollett and Woollett was located in San Francisco until 1917 when William Lee Woollett relocated to Los Angeles . In 1921, the firm relocated permanently to Los Angeles.

Theatres which Woollett designed include the Rialto Theatre on Broadway (now adaptively used as an Urban Outfitters store), Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre, and the Million Dollar Theatre.

Theatres on this website in which this architect was involved:



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Robert Brown Young Robert Brown Young

Born: 1854 (Huntingdon County, Québec, Canada)

Died: 1914 (Los Angeles, California)

Born 1854, Young’s parents were Alexander and Mary Ann (Dowler) Young. Young attended Huntingdon Academy. In 1877, he moved to Denver, Colorado, where he finished his education in construction and architectural drawing. He left thereafter for California, locating in San Francisco for two months before arriving in Los Angeles in the fall of 1878. He immediately opened up his office as an architect and general contractor.

Los Angeles at that time was a thriving city of about 10,000 and there were only two other architects here. Within a short time, demands for plans and architectural drawings were coming in far faster than he could handle them, and he was obliged to give up his work in contracting entirely and confine his attention to architectural work. During this period of building “boom”, he had 87 buildings under construction at one time.

He was the resident architect of the new Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles and built many Catholic churches and schools in the diocese of Los Angeles and Monterey. He served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

In 1880, Young married Mary C. Wilson of Denver. Two children were born to them, Frank Wilson Young and Mary Elizabeth Young Moore. The son joined his father in the family business, and after the father’s death, continued the business under the firm’s name of R. B. Young & Son. Young died at his home in Los Angeles on January 29, 1914, after an illness of several months.

Information sourced from Wikipedia Link opens in new window.

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