#0171 Merced Theatre


#0171 Merced Theatre

Site information:

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, 420 Main St, Los Angeles


Plaque information:

Private plaque

Plaque text:

Merced Theatre

The Merced Theatre was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest structures erected in Los Angeles for the presentation of dramatic performances. It served as the center of theatrical activity in the city from 1871 to 1876. The theatre was built by William Abbot, the son of Swiss immigrants who settled in Los Angeles in 1854. In 1858, he married the woman for whom he would name the theatre, Maria Merced Garcia, the daughter of Jose Antonio Garcia and Maria Guadalupe Uribe, who were long-time residents of the Los Angeles pueblo.

The theatre was designed by Ezra F. Kysor, the architect of the Pico House. Similar to the Pico House, Kysor used the Italianate style, but made the building more ornate. The theatre was located on the second floor of the three-story building. The ceiling of the second story is higher than that of the Pico House next door, an adjustment to allow for the stage, scenery and props. Thus, the building itself rises somewhat above the Pico House. Construction was completed in December, 1870 and the first performance, a melodrama entitled "Fanchon the Little Cricket," opened on January 30, 1871. Performances were mainly given in English, although some productions were presented in Spanish. Ticket prices ranged from 50 cents in the balcony to $1.00 for "parquette chairs."

The opening of Wood's Opera House in 1876, which was located only four doors south of the Merced, as well as a smallpox epidemic which struck the area that same year led to the decline of the Merced Theatre. The last performance was given on New Year's Day, 1877.

OHP description:

The Merced Theatre, erected in 1870 on North Main Street next to the Pico House, was the first building built expressly for theatrical purposes in Los Angeles. It was built by William Abbot, a cabinetmaker, and named in honor of his wife Merced Garcia.

Registered 3/6/1935