agoura water polo great Liberty Theater 100 years old
A crowd of friends from Dayton and I sat spellbound when George Lucas’ film “Star Wars” blasted across the screen in summer 1977 at The Liberty Theater on Main Street.
For weeks afterward we talked about the amazing advancements in special effects, the sheer adventure, the actors, the music, the surround sound. I don’t think any of us realized the theater was 60 years old.
It’s been a smidgen over 100 years since The Liberty opened for business as the American theater on Aug. 25, 1917. Its first screening was a William O. Selznick film starring Norma Talmadge in “The Law of Compensation.
The three story building was estimated to cost between $50,000 $100,000, according to a plaque mounted on the landing of the stairs at the front of Macy’s, which remodeled the theater into a clothing space. That remodel set a false floor over the sloped incline on which seats are purportedly still mounted. Eiler managed the building after announcing its construction in 1915. previously operated the Bijou Grand Theater across the street until closing it shortly before opening the American. bucked the trends and based the exterior design on Dutch architecture.
The concrete and brick structure is coated outside with all white glazed terra cotta with blue accents and a red tile roof.
Two dormers with steeply pitched roofs flank the entry.
Marble and tile in the lobby and hues of gold, green and old ivory greeted theatergoers. A green velour carpeted ramp led to the balcony.
Up to 1,000 could be seated in the mahogany and Spanish leather seats. Guests could pop into the smoking room or nursery and check their packages and coats in the cloakroom.
The theater sits on the spot where the original Fort Walla Walla stood from 1856 until is was moved to its current site in spring 1858. A plaque was placed in 1918 noting this by the local Narcissa Prentiss Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution.
Patrons enjoyed fancy Powers 6B projection machines on opening day and a heating and ventilation system costing $10,000. The lighting system could remain dimly lit throughout the theater without impacting any screenings.