The 1931 Wiltern Theatre is a stunning example of Art Deco architecture; its name derives from the intersection it’s located on: WILshire & WesTERN. The theatre was originally intended to be a vaudeville house and was designed by Stiles O. Clements with an interior by G. Albert Lansburgh. Originally built with seating for 2,344, the theatre was modified in 2002 to remove the 1,200 Orchestra level seats so as to create a flexible layout catering for temporary seating and standing-room configurations. The theatre is currently operated by Live Nation.
When it first opened The Wiltern housed the largest pipe organ in the western US, a 37-rank Kimball. Despite restoration in 1962 the organ has since been removed.
The centerpiece of the interior design is the auditorium ceiling which heralds a sunburst pattern of Art Deco skyscrapers, an imagining of future buildings on the city’s up-and-coming Wilshire Blvd.
In the late 1970s The Wiltern was saved from demolition twice thanks to the intervention of preservationists. In 1981, The Wiltern was purchased by developer Wayne Ratkovich who worked with architect Brenda Levin to restore the theatre to its former glory. At this time the stage was extended rearward by 15ft to accommodate larger theatre performances which wouldn’t have been possible in the shallower original design.
The Los Angeles Conservancy website covers the history of the theatre in addition to the role it plays as being part of the Pellissier Building on Wilshire Boulevard.
“American Theatres of Today” (originally published as two volumes in 1927 and 1930; reissued as a single volume in 2009 by the Theatre Historical Society of America), by R. W. Sexton and B. F. Betts, published by Liber Apertus Press. ISBN 0978588169.