Route 66 News

Advocates make effort to restore, reopen South Pasadena theater

Ever since officials a few weeks ago feared the large neon sign on the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena, Calif., might be a safety hazard, local preservationists have moved quickly to see whether the historic building could be restored and reopened.

According to a weekend story in the Pasadena Star-News:

— Landmark Theaters, which leases the property, has pledged to shore up the old sign instead of taking it down.

— The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce has applied for a $30,000 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to restore the sign.

— Friends of the Rialto is attempting to raise $8,000 so it can hire a historic theater consultant to create a business plan for its restoration and reopening.

— The City of South Pasadena’s Cultural Heritage Commission has formed a two-member panel to create a list of proposals to pay for the theater’s restoration.

The theater, at 1023 Fair Oaks Ave., is part of the original 1926 alignment of Route 66. Built in 1925, the theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It seem the shock that the Rialto’s sign could have been lost spurred a lot of locals into action:

Commission member John Lesak said though the restoration effort has been going on for a while, the recent events have garnered an increased in interest, support and hope for the project.

“I think this has brought the Rialto back to the public forefront and I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s a big milestone to be able to keep the sign on there and have everybody at the table, because all the groups haven’t been at the table for a long time.”

Here’s a video produced by the South Pasadena Patch that details some of the history of the Rialto:


One thought on “Advocates make effort to restore, reopen South Pasadena theater

  1. Scott Piotrowski

    In nearby Highland Park, the Highland Theater has recently had its rooftop sign re-lit as part of the movement to restore historic signage all along the Figueroa corridor. The significance? Architect L.A. Smith is the same architect that designed the Rialto.

    While the business model of the Highland becoming a 3-screen second-run theater has worked well for the Highland Park area, I’m not so sure that the same model would work OK for the Rialto, despite (or perhaps because of) the proximity. I sense lofts of some kind in the future of the Rialto, but I look forward to the motions of the Friends.

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