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Posts Tagged ‘Art Deco’


Twenty Six Miles Across the Sea.





Twenty six miles across the sea, west of the California coastline, lies the the jewel of the Pacific, Catalina Island. Holding court in Descanso Bay, outside Avalon Harbor is the Catalina Casino. The most visible landmark on the bay was designed by Summer A. Spaulding and Walter Weber in the Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival Styles. Completed in 1929 under the direction of chewing gum magnate, Willam Wrigley Jr. at a cost of $2million the iconic 12 story round white building surrounded by the sea on three sides, is actually not a gambling hall, but a “place of entertainment”.   It contains a movie theatre, ballroom and now an art history museum.



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 The Casino Ballroom is unlike any other in the world. Built in 1929 it is 180 feet in diameter, with no interior columns, and is the largest ballroom of this type in existence. Virtually every big band of that era played in the Casino Ballroom. Guests danced many a night away to the music of Glenn Miller, Harry James, and many others.Live broadcasts were carried over CBS radio from 1934 into the 1950s.



The ballroom in the 1930's {Image via Pinterest}

The ballroom in the 1930′s {image via Pinterest}


Completely restored a few years ago, the ballroom retains its original romantic style — a lavish medley of rose-hued walls, and an arching, fifty-foot ceiling with five Tiffany-like chandeliers.


{photo: Kim Bernard}

The ballroom today.


Stunning Art Deco Light fixture. {Photo credit: Kim Bernard}

Stunning Art Deco Light fixture.


Located on the main level of the Casino Building, the Avalon Theatre was the first theatre designed for sound movies before its construction. Its circular dome is unbroken by pillars or balconies. The screen measures 18 feet high by 36 feet wide and accommodates Cinemascope motion pictures and was the first movie theatre to be designed specifically for “talkies”. The theatre played host to the previews of films by Cecil B. De Mille, Louis B, Mayer and Samuel Goldwin.

Comedy and Tragedy highlight entrance doors into the theatre. {Photo Credit: Kim Bernard}

Comedy and Tragedy highlight entrance doors into the theatre.



{Photo Credit: Kim Bernard}

Art Deco Detail



The Lobby

The Lobby



Ornate carved seats and hand painted murals add to the opulence of the theatre.

Ornate carved seats and hand painted murals add to the opulence of the theatre.


The murals in the Avalon Theatre and on the exterior of the building were designed by John Gabriel Beckman, a well-known artist who had worked on a number of theatres, including Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Nine panels encircle the inside walls of the theatre loggia and are stylized underwater scenes of marine life. Originally designed to be executed in Catalina ceramic tile, the murals had to be painted directly onto the concrete surface in order to be ready for the Casino Building’s grand opening.

The grand entrance.

The grand entrance.





Close up of entrance mural.


Today the Casino plays host to the annual Catalina Jazz Festival, the ballroom is available for private functions, and you can catch first run movies the the restored Theatre. All the while enveloping yourself in the grandeur and detail of a time gone by.

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{All photos by Kim Bernard unless otherwise noted)

All photo images and text are the property of Walker Zanger. Please do not use for commercial purposes without permission. You are welcome to repost. copyright 2014.

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