Rialto Theatre


We were recently asked to provide preliminary budgets for exterior restoration at the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.


Opened in 1925 with the world premier of Universal Picture WHAT HAPPENED TO JONES?, the Rialto was one of the last designs by prolific theater architect L.A. Smith.  It was designed for both movies and vaudeville acts and had one of the first famous Wurlitzer organs (which was removed, but is on display at the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation museum).  The theater was outfitted with sound equipment in 1928 for “talking pictures.”  The Rialto  was slated for demolition in 1977, but likely was saved by the community, and a year later was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Though the Rialto Theatre survived the death of vaudeville, two fires and threats of demolition and conversion to a parking lot, it finally succumbed to low ticket sales and sadly closed in 2007.

Hopefully  some good news for the revitalization of that theater is on the horizon!

Check out some great photos from

Check out this short film about the theater and future plans by Miranda Gantz 

Friends of the Rialto’s facebook page here