EAGLE ROCK -- The modest marquee of the former Eagle Theatre has promoted a variety of movies and events over 90 years, from vaudeville acts and silent films to Disney releases and porn flicks. Now, after serving as a church for nearly two decades, there's an effort to bring back movies to the Eagle.
On Thursday, Escott O. Norton, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, will moderate a community meeting about restoring the theater at the corner of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Yosemite Drive.
"There are lots of options, basically every historic theatre ends up creating its own format, because to be a success it has to appeal to the local community," said Norton, who saw his firm movies at the Eagle as a child. "If only a handful of people show up and no one wants to actually do anything, nothing will get done. If we get a good showing and some people are willing to get involved in real life, I could see a number of options."
But there might be competing plans for the property. The approximately 9,400-square-foot building, which was most recently home to a church and dance studio, is now vacant, with the landlord asking nearly $19,000 a month.
The theater was originally called the Yosemite Theatre, which played silent films and two days of vaudeville acts, according to Cinema Treasures, a website devoted to old movie houses. It was also known as the New Eagle Theatre and, during the 1970s, screened adult films as part of the Pussycat chain.
By the 1980s The Eagle was back playing mainstream films but it closed in 2000 and later start hosting church services, said the Los Angeles Theatres website.
While movies have not been screened at the Eagle in nearly two decades, the theater's marquee -- which now proclaims "Jesus Christ is the Lord" and "Stop Suffering" -- remains in place. Inside, the auditorium with a proscenium arch awaits another show.
There have been previous efforts to restore the Eagle to its former movie-era glory. But they went nowhere.
Norton says a multi-use format might work best, with the theatre hosting a combination of revival movie nights, small concerts, weddings and other events.
The Eagle holds fond memories for Norton, who recalls his mother taking him as a boy to see Disney re-releases. Two films standout: Swiss Family Robinson, which he saw about six times, and Darby O'Gill and the Little People.
"That movie and its wonderful special effects got me into filmmaking and I ended up doing special effects and art department for movies and television for years because of that movie," he said.
The Eagle Theatre community meeting will be held on Thursday, May 23 at 7:30 pm at Eagle Rock City Hall.