Along the walls of The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is a pair of murals, painted in 1927 when the space was known as the United Artists Theatre, depicting members of Hollywood’s creative class in heaven and studio heads as demons.
In the back of the theater is a projection booth, added in the 1950s, which made the Ace one of the first Los Angeles-area movie houses able to project the larger-format 70-mm film. And painted in open spaces of ornamental gold lattice in the building’s lobby is a line from Psalm 119: “Forever O Lord, thy Word is Settled in Heaven,” a holdover from the theater’s 20-year stint as the home of televangelist Gene Scott (it was then called the Los Angeles University Cathedral).
A century ago, downtown Los Angeles was the center of the city’s entertainment, with movie and vaudeville theaters seemingly on every block. Today, as the neighborhood’s renaissance enters its teenage years, the remaining cinemas are coming back to life, with live music bringing crowds and energy back to neglected venues.