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San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

San Gabriel Mission Playhouse

First Opened: 15th March 1927 (92 years ago)

Website: www.missionplayhouse.org Open website in new window

Telephone: (626) 308-2865 Call (626) 308-2865

Address: 320 South Mission Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

 Featured Photos


The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse sits beside the historic San Gabriel Mission in Los Angeles County California. The theatre was constructed between 1923 and 1927 for “The Mission Play”, a 3-hour pageant-style production conceived to illustrate the establishment of the California missions. The theatre currently seats 1,387 on two levels and its architecture reflects Spanish, Native-American and Californian culture. The theatre houses a fully-restored Wurlitzer Organ.

The theatre was designed by Arthur Burnett Benton and William J. Dodd and was built by John S. McGroarty, whose bust is still the current centerpiece of the lobby. The theatre’s façade resembles the San Antonio de Padua mission near Monterey, McGroarty’s favorite California mission.

The interior architecture features huge lanterns modeled on those found aboard Spanish galleons. The ceiling is suspended plaster intricately painted to resemble a wooden beam paneled ceiling. Tapestries adorn the auditorium walls and were a gift from the King of Spain for the theatre’s opening in 1927.

In 1932 the long run of “The Mission Play” ended and the theatre started showing movies, necessitating the addition of a projection booth at the rear of the balcony. During the war years some of the dressing rooms were used as makeshift apartments; following the war citizens of San Gabriel concerned for the theatre’s future lobbied the city to purchase it, which ultimately happened in 1945.

The theatre is home to a 3-manual, 18-rank Mighty Wurlitzer organ (Opus 870) which was originally built in 1924 for installation into the RKO Albee Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. The organ was carefully packed and shipped in late 1968, arriving in San Gabriel the day before Thanksgiving. Volunteers from the Los Angeles Theatre Organ Society (LATOS) Link opens in new window spent the following years refurbishing the organ and it was dedicated in February 1972. In 2007, the Peter Lloyd Crotty Family Fund agreed to fund a second restoration of the organ, which included electrification of the console and the installation of an elevator, along with the addition of some digital voices. The organ was rededicated in 2010.

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 How do I visit the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse?

As of March 2017 tours are arranged on an adhoc basis for groups of 5 or more. Each tour gives a great insight into the building’s rich history, restoration programs and current activities, affording an overview of the architectural and design elements that grace both interior and exterior, and a demonstration of the renowned Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. For more details check the Mission Playhouse’s website Link opens in new window.

Upcoming Special Events
State of the City

State of the City (24th September 2019, 6pm)

Please join Mayor Jason Pu at the Playhouse Tuesday evening, September 24th at 6pm to learn more about San Gabriel’s latest strategic plan and achievements.

To attend, please confirm your attendance by September 17th by emailing Nancy Ramos at nramos@sgch.org Link opens in new window or by phone at (626) 308-2803, option 2.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window

Fall Fun Festival & Haunted Zone

Fall Fun Festival & Haunted Zone (25th October 2019, 5pm)

The City of San Gabriel presents the Fall Fun Festival & Haunted Zone on Friday evening, October 25th at 5pm.

Stop inside the Playhouse and catch free screenings of Halloween cartoons, Trunk or Treat along Mission Drive, enter the little ones in the costume contest, play games, and visit the Haunted Zone (ages 12+) at Grapevine Arbor Park (324 South Mission Drive) starting at 6:30pm. The whole family will have a spooktacular good time!

Admission is FREE!

If you have any questions about the festival, please call San Gabriel’s Community Services Department at (626) 308-2875.

Click here to go to the event website. Link opens in new window

 Further Reading


 Technical Information

Flying System
Flying System Single Purchase Counterweight and Pin Rail (Hemp and Sandbag)
Grid Height 62ft 10in
House Curtains Main: Red Velour; 2nd Red (speakers curtain): Red Velour; 1 Flat Black Velour 50ft x 30ft; 1 Bounce Curtain 50ft x 30ft
House Masking 4 sets Black Legs 13ft x 30ft; 4 sets Black Borders 58ft x 12ft
House Pipes 52ft long, 52ft travel
Lineset 40 Counterweights and at least 4 Full Hemp Sets
Operation Stage Right Locking Rail; loading from Pin Rail 20ft 9in from stage floor
Orchestra Pit
Capacity Approximately 18 Musicians
Stage Dimensions
Apron Depth 6ft 3in
Center Line to S.L. 46ft 1in
Center Line to S.R. 46ft 1in
Floor Surface Black Tempered Masonite
Grid Height 62ft 10in
Proscenium Height 29ft 7in (at highest point)
Proscenium Width 53ft 10in
Stage Depth 48ft 1in
Historic Photos & Documents

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 Photos of the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse




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