San Fernando photographs

López Adobe Movie Night: A Different Experience



Andrea Brooks Rynders, a great-great-granddaughter of the Lopez Adobe’s long-time owners, Gerónimo and Catalina Lopez, gives a tour to visitors at last evening’s movie night.

Last night was another movie night presentation at the López Adobe, this time with the screening of the 1941 classic Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.  The program was part of a series sponsored by the City of San Fernando’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The inflatable screen and projector were set up on the north end of the property near the storage and restroom building, while tours of the Adobe were offered for about two hours prior.


The location of the screening of the 1941 classic film, Casablanca, in an open area on the north end of the López Adobe property.  The city’s parks and recreation department put on this great series and council member Jaime Soto introduced and discussed the movie with guests.

Visitors to the house had the great experience of touring the early 1880s landmark with Andrea Brooks Rynders, great-great-granddaughter of Gerónimo and Catalina Lopez, the home’s owners for nearly four decades.

It’s one thing to hear the story of a family and house, but another matter entirely to get that from a descendant.  It’s something that people don’t get to do all that often and Andrea is carrying on the knowledge of her family and the house passed on through her father, the late John Brooks, who, sadly, passed away just before the López Adobe’s reopening in March 2015.


The López Adobe takes on different visual qualities when photographed at dusk with the lighting and the colors in the sky adding to the scene.

It was also another type of experience to be in the López Adobe at night, especially when the evening is cooler after a warm day, the building is lit up, and downtown San Fernando activity quieter.

As some of the photos here show, the Adobe takes on a really luminous quality when photographed at night (even from obviously amateur images like these!)  That’s why the movie night is such a great idea.  Not only do visitors get to see interesting films with commentary by city council member Jaime Soto, but they can see and experience the house in a different way.


With palm, orange and pomegranate trees in silhouette and exterior lighting on the house, the López Adobe looks pretty awesome at night.

The next opportunity for vistors to see the Adobe won’t be at night, but come out and take a tour and learn about the interesting history of the López family, their long-time home and the area on Sunday, 23 October from 1 to 4 p.m.

Categories: California History, Catalina Lopez, Downtown San Fernando, Geronimo Lopez, Lopez Adobe, Lopez History, San Fernando buildings, San Fernando History, San Fernando photographs | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The San Fernando Theater

San Fernando street in 1940s

Among the many great photographs found in the Lopez Adobe collection is this circa 1940s view of Brand Boulevard, which is recognizable mainly for the old Pacific Electric Railway streetcar right-of-way in the center of the thoroughfare.  The electric poles and tracks are still in place in this view–later a landscaped median was installed and this is still the case today.

The view is taken from near San Fernando Road and looks southwest.  In addition to the PE track, cars parked along the street, some of the roadside landscaping and snippets of structures, there is one standout building:  the San Fernando Theater.


Here’s a view of the San Fernando Theater from the Van Nuys News, 3 September 1964, as its destruction was forecast for a “double-decked” parking lot.  The theater was showing “Peligros de Juventud [Youth Films]” as well as Los Apuros de Dos Gallos (The Troubles of Two Roosters), a comedy released in May 1963 in Mexico and which was about a pair of singers who wandered onto a ranch and encountered all kinds of hardships.

Located at 303 S. Brand, the site originally housed the Cody Theater, but it appears that the old building was demolished in favor of what became the “New San Fernando” in 1925, when an article in the 25 August issue of the Van Nuys News reported that George Drake and Son were awarded a contract for the construction of the new building.

The theater remained a going concern for about forty years, but as times changed and redevelopment was taking place in San Fernando, the future of the aging building was looking ominous.  For one thing, the single-screen theater was going the way of the dodo, being replaced by multiplexes.  Secondly, by the mid-1960s, the city was actively pursuing its San Fernando Mall concept, a postcard of which was recently posted on the Lopez Adobe Facebook page.  As San Fernando Road was narrowed to two lanes and street parking removed, nearby areas were being converted to city parking lots.


Another News article, from 5 September 1965, discusses 17 parcels in San Fernando condemned for parking lots and walkways as the San Fernando Mall project was pursued.

In 1964-65, after a good deal of deliberation and planning, city officials decided to condemn seventeen properties for conversion into parking lots and walkways.  One of these was the San Fernando Theater property.  Yet, even though the Mall project proceeded and a number of city-owned parking lots were implemented, the theater somehow evaded destruction.  Well, for a while.

On 9 February 1971, the Sylmar earthquake, registering about 6.6 on the Richter scale, struck in the early morning hours, causing widespread destruction in and around San Fernando.  Among the many structural casualties was the San Fernando Theater, which had to be razed.


The demolition of the San Fernando Theater is shown in this photo from the 5 March 1971 edition of the News.  Thought it wasn’t a double-decker, as planned several years earlier (and which may not have withstood the Sylmar quake), a parking lot was built here and still serves that use today.

Sure enough, in its place was built a parking lot, which still serves this function today.  It does appear that the structure next to the theater in the 1940s photo, which looked to have had some kind of Art Deco architectural feature projecting above the one-story roofline is still standing today, as can be seen in this Google Maps link here.

Categories: Brand Boulevard, Cody Theater, Lopez Adobe, San Fernando History, San Fernando Mall, San Fernando photographs, San Fernando streets, San Fernando Theater, San Fernando theaters | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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