Highland Park — Only a few months after closing its long-time space in Echo Park, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has announced it has found a new home for its shows and 3,000 puppets: an old movie theater on York Boulevard.
The theater company, in a post on its Facebook page, said puppet performances are scheduled to resume early this summer at 4949 York Boulevard, a 1920s era movie house that was most recently used as a Korean church.
“At the heart of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a child’s first theatrical experience, which we plan to share and continue for generations in Highland Park and all of Los Angeles.”
The theater company, which signed a 10-year-lease, is working with the architectural firm Escher GuneWardena to turn the nearly 10,000-square-foot, Art Deco building into a live performance space, according to the L.A. Times.
The building was a movie theater for decades, making its debut in the 1920s during the silent film era. It also hosted women’s club meetings and special events, and, in recent years, served as the home for the Pyong Kang Church — its neon cross glowing over the marquee. Last summer the building went up for for sale and was sold in November for $2.5 million, according to tax assessor information.
The Art Deco building near Avenue 50 first opened as the York Theatre, and was later known as the Fox Theater, according to a city historic survey. You can see a portion of the old York Theatre sign peeking above a streetcar in this old photo.
It is first mentioned in the Eagle Rock Sentinel in November 1923, in an event notice for the North Highland Park Women’s club. But entertainment listings for the theater really seem to have begun in earnest in 1926, with such movies as “The Little Irish Girl,” starring Dolores Costello.
In recent years, the neighborhood around the old theater has been gentrifying and changing. Right across the street is the highly popular York Park, and one block over is a strip of shops that include the Hi Hat, The York, Highland Cafe, Highland Brewery and Donut Friend. A few steps away, a vegan restaurant and beer garden recently opened for business.
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