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Padua Hills Theater

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (National Register of Historic Places)

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Also called the "Little Theater," this modern-day wedding and event venue was once housed the most "celebrated collection of Mexican American artists in Southern California from 1931 to 1974." It allowed Euroamericans to indulge in the consumption of the Spanish Fantasy Past while it also allowed an opportunity for Mexican performers to bring their performances into the cultural mainstream.

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The Padua Hills Theater lies at a crossroads of both the Spanish Fantasy Past and a "'grassroots' revival in the performing arts."1 Padua Hills Theater was built in 1928 in the Mission Revival period (as is evidenced in its architecture). The theater --which was built in a community restricted to whites--initially hosted an all-white troupe which would perform traditional European plays. This troupe, however, fell victim to the Depression. By 1933, Padua Hills Theater essentially had no troupe.

As a solution to their problem, owners Herman and Bess Garner turned their attention to the local Mexican American community. The Garner's turned towards a Mexican American workforce for cooking, cleaning, and waitressing, but more importantly, they also provided entertainment--which often meant singing "Mexican folk songs during dinners and intermissions."2 These performances quickly became popular among the whites who frequented the theater, and soon, the theater became dedicated "to the sole production of plays featuring" these Mexican American Actors--The Mexican Players.3 The theater became the longest-running theater featuring Mexican American actors, culture, and entertainment, and it worked to foster a cultural bridge between the Mexican American and Euroamerican communities.

Sources

Overview: Matt Garcia, A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001). 1. Garcia, 125. 2. Ibid, 128. 3. Ibid, 130.

Address
4467 Padua Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
Phone Number
(909) 624-8628
Tags
  • Architecture and Historical Buildings
  • Cultural History
  • Ethnic History and Immigration
  • Latino/Latina History
This location was created on 2016-08-03 by Alicia Gutierrez-Romine .   It was last updated on 2016-08-03 by Alicia Gutierrez-Romine .

This entry has been viewed 257 times within the past year

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