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.
Anyone have any memories of the Park?