The Wilshire Theatre is the only remaining building from the pre-World War II era in the 1300 block of Wilshire Boulevard since other commercial buildings on the block of were constructed after World War II.
The building was designed by John M. Cooper. Some of the best examples of Cooper’s work include a synagogue in Boyle Heights, a residence at 231 South Plymouth Street, a residence at 316 South Lorraine Street, San Bernardino City Hall, and the Roxie Theatre on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.
An excellent representative example of the Art Deco style, the Wilshire Theatre has many of Art Deco features such as the verticality of the pilasters, recessed panels, and the high parapet of the central bay on the street facing primary façade, which dominates the exterior elevations. The decorative patterns on the building include the stepped scrolls and chevrons. Furthermore, Wilshire Theatre’s façade is both balanced and hierarchical.
The Wilshire Theater’s Art Deco style is a reflection of the economic and social conditions during its construction in 1930. It appears that there was a trend toward construction of more simplified Depression-era movie houses and a shift away from the more decorative, opulent movie palaces constructed by movie studios during the previous decades.
Although there have been alterations made to the primary elevation during the 1960 remodel, the Wilshire Theatre continues to exhibit a high level of architectural integrity and is one of only two surviving neighborhood theaters in Santa