Thursday, March 08, 2012

Traveling Thursdays: Catalina Island

I have only been to Catalina Island once. When I stepped off the boat and looked around, I wished I had booked a longer weekend trip. By that very same evening, I was ready to go home. Overall, the island seemed somewhat touristy to me; too full of people and activity to relax, but not enough attractions that appealed to me to keep me busy. I played a lot of miniature golf.

Still, I was very impressed by the Avalon Theatre, shown in the first vintage image. The 12 story tall structure opened on May 29, 1929, ad has a movie theatre and museum on the first level and a dance hall on the top level. The theatre has one movie screen that shows first-run movies (you can watch "The Mysterious Island" if you happen to be on the island tonight!), and is so well-insulated that guests can't hear the noise from the dancehall above, yet the acoustics are so good that a speaker on the theatre stage can speak in a normal voice without a microphone and be heard clearly by all in attendance.

The theatre still has its original 4-manual, 16 rank theatre pipe organ built by the Page Pipe Organ Company of Lima, Ohio, which you can see in this clip showing Bob Salisbury playing (appropriately) the song "Avalon":

The photos shown here were taken from my June 2004 trip; I was still using a camera that took film, and I have to say my photography skills were not very advanced. Still, I think you can see what a historic gem this theatre is.

See more vintage & current Catalina Island photos on my Catalina web page.


Major Pepperidge said...

I love old theaters; one of these days I'm going to take a walking tour of the movie palaces in downtown L.A.

Daveland said...

I've taken one - would highly recommend it! Fascinating to see the old theaters that are no retail stores (and seeing the remnants of what is left) but even more cool to see the huge movie palaces that survived! They are spectacular.

Anonymous said...

I have been to Catalina several times, but only the last time was this theater open for business. Unfortunately, it was closed, so I only got pics of the outside.

This building is a gem. You are right, tho, the town is kind of a snooze. one walk up and back, and you're ready for something new.

I am hoping to manage a backpack trip into the interior, which can be arranged, entering through Twin Harbors and hiking to Avalon.


Thanks for the pics, Dave.

JG (on the road)

Mr. Tiny said...

I love Catalina because it is so sleepy. It is one of the few places where I go that requires nothing of me - so I do absolutely nothing without guilt. We go every year for the Art Deco Society's Avalon Ball and stay the whole weekend! It happens on the same weekend as the museum's silent movie fundraiser. Bob Salisbury composes and performs an original score for the film every year - AWESOME!!!

KrisF said...

I absolutely love Catalina Island. I've been there 4-5 times, last was my birthday which I got the roundtrip boat ride free. I haven't stayed over night yet and I really want to see the flying fish when the festival comes around.
I like the small size. If I could get into Long Beach easier and stay longer, I would bring my easel and paint. Even with the summer crowds it is quite relaxing to me. The hike to the botanical garden and the Wrigley Memorial is a good one too.

Connie Moreno said...

I would love to stay at Catalina for a couple of nights because I LOVE doing nothing, LOL! This place just calls to me. As for your pics, are you kidding? They're GREAT!

And Wacky Tacky, an Art Deco Society Ball??? Now I gotta Google it!