Another old Ontario theater

I got an e-mail from ex-Ontarian Bill Gunn the last time the Ritz Theater was mentioned here. Now that the Ritz is on the blog again, here’s Bill’s note, as timely as ever:

“I was wondering what the Ritz Theatre was all about until I realized you were talking about the California. What about the Park? It was toward Holt from the Ritz about four doors. It was Ontario’s third theater.”

Ontario’s leading theater was the Granada, still standing on the west side of Euclid Avenue at 305 but used now as a church. The Park and the California, later named the Ritz, were on the east side of Euclid. The California/Ritz, at 136 N. Euclid, burned down.

The Park is the most obscure of the three, not least of which because it went through multiple names. It seems to have had the Park name from 1948 to about 1962. Here’s what I found out Tuesday from the Ontario Library’s Joanne Boyajian:

The theater was built in 1913 at 122 N. Euclid. First it was the Isis, owned by Jacob Lerch. In 1915 it changed hands and became the Euclid when the competing theater across the street, the Euclid Photoplay, took it over and relocated.

The new Euclid theater had more than 500 seats and up-to-date stage and dressing rooms to accommodate “any road show that comes to the city,” according to the Daily Report. Owner H.E. Milling’s stated specialty was “high-class moving picture dramas and only the better class of vaudeville.” Inferior acts were “strictly barred.” But of course.

The Euclid remained through at least 1928. It was known to be vacant in the mid-1930s, in the depths of the Depression. (The California and Granada theaters apparently closed in the Depression as well before being reopened in 1933 by Jack Anderson.)

From 1937-1938 the Euclid was resurrected as the Forum Theater and it remained under that name until 1948 when it was named — finally! — the Park Theater, owned by the Anderson brothers.

But by 1962, it was a pawn shop, Euclid Loan and Jewelry Co. Today Euclid Loan is still operating, but the pawn shop is slated to relocate across Euclid so the building can be demolished for the great downtown project that at this point isn’t looking so great.

Whew!

Anyone have any memories of the Park?

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  • Pam Arterburn

    During the summer in the early ’60s, the Granada hosted a movie series for children. Our parents bought us a strip of 10 yellow perforated movie tickets for a buck — each movie cost a dime. A Charms sucker from the concession stand only set you back another two nickels, and that lasted for at least the first movie of the double-feature.

    The Ritz across the street became an adult theater — quite shocking! — but burned down later in the ’70s, and I always wondered if the arsonist might have been a local mom who didn’t approve of dad’s taste in films!

    During the summer, kids took swimming lessons at the Chaffey plunge, tore around town on our bikes, and went to the Granada’s summertime movies. Those really were the Wonder Years!

    [Nice comment, Pam. For the record, I believe the Ritz fire was determined to be electrical in nature and NOT arson. -- DA]

  • Larry Allen, Indio California

    My mom sent me the article on the controversy as to which city the Valley Drive-In Theater was located in, Ontario or Montclair.

    I am surprised that there was no mention that the Post Office address for that area was called Monte Vista before it was changed to Montclair.

    Fifty-seven years ago, while in elementary school, I got a job picking up trash from the theater parking lot.

    I recently took a road trip that jogged onto old highway Route 66. AAh, fond childhood memories, mom & pop cafes, filling stations and drive-In theaters…

    [For the record, the drive-in opened in 1956, or 52 years ago. You're right, Montclair was Monte Vista the first two years of the drive-in's existence. In fact it was on or about April 9, 1958 that the name changed to Montclair. I found that fact recently while doing some research at the Pomona Library. -- DA]