The stunning setting of Hollywood Ford Theatres began 96 years ago, with a simple play. Inspired by Christine Wetherill Stevenson’s “The Pilgrimage Play,” John Anson Ford saw potential in the rugged beauty of the Cahuenga Pass. Ford and Mrs. Chauncey D. Clark purchased the land along with that on which the Hollywood Bowl now sits. Being Hollywood, of course, a wealth of talent called this summer production home until the original wooden structure was destroyed by a brush fire in October of 1929.
The theatre was reconstructed into what is now today’s theatre – a poured concrete design in the style of ancient Judaic architecture. The striking design was inspired by the gates of Jerusalem, and was built on the same site as the original structure. After reopening in 1931, “The Pilgrimage Play” was performed here every summer, interrupted only by World War II. In 1941, the land was deeded to the County of Los Angeles, and in 1964, the play closed due to a lawsuit over its religious nature.
In 1976, the Pilgrimage Theatre was renamed “The John Anson Ford Theatre,” to honor Ford’s dedication to the arts. County Supervisor Ed Edelman revived it once more in1993, with “Summer Nights at the Ford” – which became what is now “The Ford Amphitheatre Summer Season.” Soon after, federal funding paid for capital improvements, and the LA County Arts Commission continued Ford’s dream of providing LA County music, dance, and theatre groups a major venue.
For 23 years, this rejuvenated venue has supported artists as diverse as this amphitheatre’s beginning, representing music and dance styles reflective of LA County. Ever evolving, the Ford Theatre is now undergoing further renovation, featuring a serpentine glass wall. Giroux Glass is proud to be a part of the unique glass design that will serve as the next exciting facade to this 96-year-old LA County treasure – born, discovered, buried, rediscovered, and finally in center stage.
Thanks to the work of our Giroux Glass team of Bruce Johnson (Project Manager), Tom Berger (Estimator), Kelly Edwards (Superintendent), and glazing team led by Mike Duren (Foreman), we are bringing the glazing portion of this project to fruition. Since February 2016, our team has planned the installation of entryway curtain wall, sliding projection windows, dressing room area mirrors, as well as decorative windows in the “castle-like” structure. After the skilled work of our crew and coordination with other trades, general contractor, Pankow, and Levin & Associates Architects, our scope is nearly complete. Thanks also to our suppliers, Oldcastle, CRL/US Aluminum, Smalley & Company, Arcadia, Inc., and Avalon Glass and Mirror, for their support on this project.
It has taken 96 years of creativity, artistry, and fellowship to bring the Ford Theatres to where it is today. As always, we are greatly honored to actively contribute to building up our communities, especially in the city where Giroux Glass got its own start, 70 years ago, in our “City of Angels.”