Downtown Report: July 2023
From left to right: Jessica Kaczmarek Band played to the audience, The Mark Sells Band rocked the stage, and our very own local minstral Steve Metzger brought the good times at the Day of Music Fullerton that plays annually on June 21.
Day Of Music
Summer finally showed up just in time, and as the day progressed, so did many young and old music fans, ready to kick off the season with the music of all genres imaginable. Every venue we visited was crowded and hopping. There were so many overwhelming performances on the Plaza Stage that there is no space here to show or list them all. I hope you were there too.
Congratulations to all who made this happen, particularly the leading man Todd Huffman, who had to handle hundreds of details along with his all-volunteer staff, and thanks to all of the artists who gave their best for the love of music.
photo by David Styffe
Wilshire Theater -Take A Seat
The Last Boulevardier column by Chris Beard ran in this newspaper for many years back in the 90s and was always a highlight. We mentioned this in the early March edition of 2021, and a recent downtown encounter with his nephew Dave brought up an interesting discussion about Chris, his writing, aerial photography, and his management of the infamous Wilshire Theater. A lot of great info also appeared in Emerson Little’s column in November of 2020, so what new information could have just emerged?
Dave is the son of Chris’s brother Peter, who is well known all over Fullerton since he has been the contractor on extensive construction projects here. When Pete was in the process of demolition of the Malden Arms/Wilshire Theater, we discovered workers were piling the theater seats into the middle of what originally was the indoor swimming pool for the apartments, built in 1927 and converted in 1946. What historic theater seats are being tossed out? Chris said Pete would not mind if we salvaged some, and wow, we dug quite a few of them out of the rubble.
Many were subsequently restored, two sets of which reside in my Fullerton home and another in my daughter’s Fullerton home. Others ended up in Santa Monica, Arizona, and elsewhere, so they live on, along with some of the best memories of good times relaxing in those reclining seats, taking in movies of all genres, including the notorious run of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which included audience members spraying squirt guns, tossing rice, toast, and other objects to match scenes in the movie. Yes, this was common practice in those heady days and one reason the movie has reached such so-called cult status.
But the rest of the story, the new revelations, lies not on but beneath the seats. No, not in the gum left behind, but in the basement to the east, and also above, in the apartments turned single room occupancy, a total of 33, which eventually ended up in converted spaces leading to a first-name relationship between the owner Pete Beard and the Fullerton Fire Department. The residents caused so many fires that the place was declared a hazard, and it was forced to close down. Slam.
It was hard enough to make ends meet, with many of the tenants cashing their weekly paychecks at Mickey’s Bar up the road on Harbor and exhausting their rent money, so Pete and Mickey made a deal, she would cash the checks and reserve the weekly $32 for Pete so he could keep the place going. The regulars would have a place to crash. But even with that, the bell eventually tolled. After the SRO closed, the two basement apartments were allowed to be occupied for a bit, and a couple of the single rooms were allowed to be daytime-only offices, but the closure spelled doom, which led to the entire building being torn down. No, wait a minute, a bit of it remains, and that wall in the basement lives on. Stay tuned for part two in the next issue.
Since our City Council has approved the Fox Block development next to the Fox Theatre, the next step will be plan checks for building and engineering. It is important to note that Angelo’s and Vinci’s Ristorante is open at 4 pm daily, so don’t forget that when making dining plans.
Once the project begins, it will be quite a while before the construction, including the conversion of Ellis Place to a pedestrian walkway, will be completed and open for business. One of the tenants, Rodeo Fox Public Market, was a sponsor for last week’s Day of Music Fullerton.
The plans for Westpark/Tracks at Fullerton Station are being revised. Current plans call for 140 residential units, a 124-room Hotel, retail, and parking.
Send answers to Mike at AllMedia@sbcglobal.net
This time: Where is this found?
Last time: Frank, Gene, Glenn, Dave, Bob, and Bill answered right away. It’s Goodwin Field, where the Titans play baseball.