Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Puppet Lofts? Residential development proposed for Bob Baker Marionette Theater


ECHO PARK ––  A housing and commercial development is planned for the legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater  on the southern edge of Echo Park.

It’s not clear whether the theater will remain operating in its cinderblock building on First Street and Glendale Boulevard. But a presentation about the rehabilitation and reuse of the site as a “multi-family residential and commercial property” is scheduled for Thursday’s meeting of the Cultural Heritage Commission, which oversees the city’s historic landmarks.

The city declared the  building a historic cultural monument in 2009 as part of an effort by fans to rescue the struggling theater from closing.  The 90-year-old Baker  is one of the nation’s most prominent puppeteers who began working with marionettes at age 7.  His theater contains 3,000 hand-made marionettes and has hosted shows – followed by ice cream – for nearly 50 years, making it perhaps the nation’s longest-running puppet theater.

Three years after being declared a landmark, the theater property was put up for sale for $2.05 million as the theater’s problems continued.  Online property records show it sold last year for $1.305 million.

The Eastsider has contacted the theater for more details about the proposed development.

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  1. Bob Baker is a sweet soul. His theatre has employed local youth, he has entertained countless kids in LA, and is a highly skilled Marionette maker. Thank you, Bob for all your years of being a true artist:)

  2. It’ll be interesting to see if this is a pure adaptive reuse (with the exterior remaining the same) or whether it’s more like some of the Hollywood projects that have partially preserved historic buildings or facades while building around them. It would be interesting to see if it’s possible to have a development on site that includes a ground floor theater/museum element for the theater to continue operations in.

  3. Wow, those marionette shows were amazing: fun, surreal, psychedelic, and ol’ timey. I had the pleasure of watching the marionette show escapade on two occasions. The rag-tag marionettes with their vintage costumes and the decoratively elaborate sets were a true pleasure to watch. Little kids would sit on the floor with wide-eyed rapture and enthusiasm. Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater entertained both children and adults.

  4. The Bob Baker Marionettes was the finest theatrical experience that a family could find in Los Angeles and in Southern California. It’s a shame that Los Angeles is allowing it to disappear. Once it’s gone it’s never coming back. Remember that. Art and all lovers of art need to support this institution and not let it disappear. It’s how I got my start when I saw the show the Bob personally was performing when I was 10 years old. It was that experience of actually seen a live marionette show and going to the public library to do research on Puppet building that made me start my career.thank you Mr. Bob Baker. You always have been and will continue to be an inspiration. Scott Land

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