San Gabriel Mission Playhouse
About the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse
The San Gabriel Mission Playhouse is a magnificent and opulent theater steeped in history, complete with tapestries presented by the King of Spain, a beautifully carved and painted ceiling, a fully operational Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, and chandeliers that replicate the lanterns used on Spanish galleons which sailed around the tip of South America en route to California in the 1800’s.
Dedicated on March 5th, 1927, this lavish facility was built by John Steven McGroarty for his famed Mission Play. The world-renowned production told the dramatic story of the founding of the California missions by the Franciscan Fathers under the leadership of Father Junipero Serra.
After the end of the 1932 season and an astounding 3,198 performances, the effects of the depression, plus an attempt to produce it on Broadway, ended the long run of the play. A re-imagined version of the play was presented in April 2013 as part of the City’s Centennial Celebrations.
In the mid 1940′s a group of San Gabriel residents formed a citizen’s committee whose goal was to see the Playhouse purchased by the City. In August 1945 the City purchased the Mission Playhouse and renamed it the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium. On September 26, 2007, the City renamed the theatre back to its original name.
The architectural style is Spanish, with Mexican and Native American influences apparent in the decor. The facade, designed to resemble McGroarty’s favorite mission, San Antonio de Padua in Monterey County, is clearly the most identifiable aspect of the building and can be seen for miles.