The historic Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena, California, will be operated by the popular Mosaic church in nearby Los Angeles.
Escott O. Norton, founder and president of the Friends of the Rialto preservation group, confirmed in a Facebook post this week the church is “leasing the entire building including retail spaces and the old apartments above.”
Friends of the Rialto has presented the Mosaic Church team and the Rialto’s owners with a proposal to consult with them during the restoration phase, and to help program the theatre on days and nights when the church is not using it. Our goal is to ensure the Rialto is protected and restored as accurately as possible, and eventually used for public events as much as possible.
While I admit to being sad that our plan did not receive the major financial support we had hoped for, we are VERY grateful to the donors who gave what they did. Your donations will be held for future restoration projects at the Rialto. Each and every one of you is a special Friend of the Rialto. Thank you.
The New York Times in 2015 published a profile on Mosaic:
Mosaic, a church that counts thousands of young people among its congregants, offering sermons rife with pop-culture references, musical performances that look like Coachella, and a brand cultivated for social media. (Church events are advertised on Instagram; there’s a “text to donate” number).
The Rialto Theatre, at 1023 Fair Oaks Ave., remains part of the original 1926 alignment of Route 66. Built in 1925, the theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Closed in 2011, the theater deteriorated enough that part of its marquee nearly fell off, endangering motorists and pedestrians.
At one point in 2014, it appeared famed director Quentin Tarantino was going to buy the theater, but he backed out of the deal. Tarantino owns Los Angeles’ New Beverly Cinema, which is known far and while for its creative programming.