The City of Beverly Hills completed the restoration of the Greystone Theatre at Greystone Mansion & Gardens in spring 2020. It is now a multi-use space preserving the historic character of the room while offering a state-of-the-art cinema and small stage for live performance.
There's a theatre in the house?
The original drawings by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann show a "Motion Picture Theatre" in the upper level of the entertainment wing.
This wing of the house includes a 2-lane bowling alley in the lower level, determining the long and narrow shape of the theatre. Originally the room included a small stage framed by a proscenium arch carved from white oak, a large open space, possibly a raised platform, and a projection room. The City does not have any photos of this space while the Doheny family lived here and very little is known about how it was used.
Earliest photo in the City's collection, likely taken in the mid-1960s
After the City purchased the property in 1965, the mansion was rented to the American Film Institute (AFI) from 1969-1982. AFI divided the room into two sections to place the screen at the proper distance for standard industry sight lines. A seating riser was built in the west portion of the room and updated equipment installed in the projection room.
Photos of the AFI screening room, early 1970s
After AFI left Greystone in the early 1980s, very little was done to the theatre until in 2019, Mayor John Mirisch identified restoration of the theatre as a high priority in the list of restoration projects at Greystone.
The Theatre restored
The goal was to preserve the historic character of the room while allowing it to function as a state-of-the-art cinema. When the movie screen is raised, the full space is visible showcasing the restored woodwork, historic sconces, and original footlights.
How were decisions made?
Greystone is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a Beverly Hills Local Historic Landmark. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation were followed as a preservation guideline, with additional advisement from preservation firm Historic Resources Group. The Friends of Greystone were also part of the team providing historic preservation recommendations. The architectural firm Studio 440 was chosen to work on the project due to their extensive background in cinema, including historic projects. Public input was received at City Council meetings where the project was discussed.
Looking for more information?
Please contact Greystone at 310.285.6830 or GreystoneEvents@beverlyhills.org