Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If Walls Could Talk

Check out the wall of the back room at Gus's BBQ! I don't know if this is an original advertising mural from the old Ritz Theater or just an artistic nod to the past, but it makes for a wonderful mealtime backdrop. (If you're curious about The Kid From Brooklyn, you can see a clip right here.)

The Ritz was built around 1916 in the spot that is now Gus's parking lot. When it opened, it was known as The Colonial Theater. Both it and the Rialto were operated by Circle Theaters until the mid 1930s when they were taken over by Fox West Coast. On December 13, 1936, the LA Times mentioned a robbery at the Ritz: "An armed bandit escaped with $53.10. Cashier Ruth Shroder and the doorman were threatened with a revolver." (Maybe that's why Circle Theaters lost interest in the theater's operations...)

The Ritz was demolished in 1961, but thankfully the Rialto stands. For now.

19 comments:

TheChieftess said...

Great photo Laurie!!! Love the red overtones!!! I've eaten at Gus's numerous times and haven't noticed this...is it in the bar???

Anonymous said...

Laurie,
I need your artistic eye and mind. Could you check out the nine trees planted on Arroyo
Drive at Magnolia? Since they will grow to block our view, I have a very personal objection. But perhaps I am missing the "greater" good. So many people enjoy the sunsets and skyline views from this vantage point; I cannot understand the City's reasoning.
Curlcue Sally

Judy Williams said...

I love brick walls! I've often thought (although I'm sure I'll never do it) how cool it would be to live in a loft home made from an old industrial building. The character of each hand made clay brick is awesome.

wv:reckso - the old theater was a reckso they tore it down

Pasadena Adjacent said...

That's so interesting. I've never heard about this. I wonder if my dad attended that particular movie house. I assumed Gus' had been there since the beginning of time

Laurie said...

Sally, I'll take a look!

PA, Gus's has been there since 1946, and the Ritz was next door -- a single screen theater. Also, on the site of the building that houses Papa Johns was a building that went up when the Ritz was built but I'm pretty sure the Papa JOhns space is a newer structure. I haven't poked into the history of that yet.

I need to photograph the Comerica Bank redo down the street. Wow, it's pretty after all these months of painstaking restoration. I wonder if the gas station mural on the brick wall inside survived intact?

Laurie said...

BTW, if you are in Gus's take a look at the vintage photos hanging on the walls. You can see the Ritz in one of Fair Oaks from the late 40s/early 50s.

Kim said...

This one of the things I love most, when you not only make a super image for us, but delve into the history of what you are seeing and take us on through what your research and background knowledge bring to light. It's like you're an urban detective, sluthing through the present to find the past. So, let us know if that gas station mural did get saved when you get a chance to poke about when the building is opened.
-Kim

Shanna said...

We've been to Gus's several times and didn't notice this great brick wall and sign.
Guess we'll have to go back. Love that place.

Mister Earl said...

I'm guessing the gas station mural at Comerica did get saved, but we'll have to see. I did not know about the Ritz. I'll ask some friends who were here when the dinosaurs roamed Garfield Park.

dbdubya said...

The contractors who are restoring the bank building are doing a fabulous job. It's taken a long time but the nearly final product looks great. People should transfer their accounts to Comerica Bank to express their appreciation for them renovating a historic building. That makes them a good corporate citizen in my mind and worthy of my business.

WV: dolited - I'm dolited with the way the Comerica Bank has turned out.

Laurie said...

DB, I'm with you. I've watched the daily progress on the Comerica building for months now. When the rosettes went back up, it brought a tear to my eye! I'll definitely post another photo when they finish. Looks like it won't be long now.

Chieftess and Shanna, the mural in today's photo is in Gus's back room, right next to the bar. There is a campy, Texas-worthy pair of longhorns mounted on one of the walls, too.

Thanks, Kim, for your incredibly kind words!

And thanks, everyone, for your wonderful comments. Until tomorrow...

Petrea said...

Just fantastic, Laurie. I love the history and the shot is cool, too.

Mister Earl said...

I spoke to my friend who grew up in South Pas in the 50s and 60s. He said there was a bowling alley where Wild Thyme is now. The Ritz Theater was across the street from the bowling alley, where the pet store is now. The Papa John's location, he says, was severely damaged in the 1987 earthquake that also totaled Gus's and was rebuilt. My friend had a recording studio in the building behind Gus's that fronts on Brent. Dr. Dimento used to record his shows there in the 1970s and they would mail them out to the stations.

dbdub: I'd be happy to put my money in Comerica, just as soon as they give me good interest rates!

TheChieftess said...

Dr. Demento...boy I haven't heard of him in a long, long, long time!!! Triggered some other memories....like Wolfman Jack!!!

dbdubya said...

Wolfman Jack, broadcasting live on 500,000 watt XERB. Their transmitter was in Tijuana and was much more powerful than what would be allowed in the US. I remember hearing the Wolfman in Central California in the late 60's, early 70's.

WV: beerp - a beer burp

TheChieftess said...

Sorry DB, beerp is just too dainty for a beer burp!!!

Virginia said...

Earl,
You were roaming right there with them and you know it.

LA,
Great, great wall. I am a bit leery of BBQ in California but I will reserve judgement till my next visit.
V

Anonymous said...

L
the print on the wall in Gus's is a reproduction of a similar painted sign seen in a photo or was just designed to look original. the Ritz was on that side of Fair Oaks. you have to look at the picture in the dining room. there is also a great picture of the original "Commerica" building which the current owners will be planting the three palm trees on the Mission side just as before. the grand opening for the Commerica bank is Monday Jun 28.
I'll be opening an account there too, to show support for a great new partner in the SP community

M

Mister Earl said...

Saw the photo at Trader Joe's. The Ritz was right next to Gus's.