Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Plaza Theatre & Newhall Bowl, 1973
Lyons Avenue, Newhall

The Plaza Theatre in Newhall, showing a double feature of the new Robert Redford vehicle, "Jeremiah Johnson" (released December 1972), paired with Richard Harris in "Man of the Wilderness" (November 1971), with cartoons for kids on Saturday afternoons. Photo (color slide) dates from May 1973. It took a while for new releases to reach this second-run movie house.

Next door is the Newhall Bowl, a bowling alley at 23700 Lyons Ave. owned by Frank Turner and his wife, Lee Turner. It included a restaurant (Lion's Room), a coffee shop and a banquet room (Safari Room).

The long-defunct Continental Theaters chain of Hollywood built the Plaza Theatre at 23710 Lyons Avenue in Newhall. It opened Aug 10, 1965 — the same year the Santa Clarita Valley's only other indoor movie theater, the American Theater on Spruce Street in Newhall, stopped showing films. (Throughout its 24-year run as a movie theater, and afterward, the American was property of Newhall American Legion Post 507 and served as the American Legion Hall.)

The Corral Drive-In in Seco Canyon, where Grace Baptist Church was later built (opened 1998), may still have been in operation — we're fairly certain the aged drive-in was still open in 1964, anyway — but that was it, in terms of competition, until May 25, 1966, when The Newhall Land and Farming Co. opened the Mustang Drive-in on Soledad Canyon Road.

As a drive-in, the Mustang provided a different experience for moviegoers. The single-screen Plaza Theatre prospered for many years as a second-run indoor movie house, often showing double features, until the development of Valencia — which had started the same year as the Plaza — choked it out.

In April 1981 [cq] the Mann theater chain opened a 6-screen multiplex, expanding to 10 screens in 1983 or 1984, at 23415 Cinema Drive (thus the street name). The Plaza responded with a remodel and a rebranding as the Plaza 3 Cinemas with three screens in 1992, but by that time, the writing was on the wall.

As residential growth continued, even the Mann's days were numbered. The same year the Plaza expanded, The Newhall Land and Farming Co. opened the Valencia Town Center mall with a new Edwards multiplex cinema. It was followed in 1998 by another Edwards multiplex on a former Canyon Country elementary school site, built by a developer-partner of the property owner/landlord, the Sulphur Springs Union School District. The Mann shut down and sat vacant until 2005 when it was remodeled into a church. No more cinema on Cinema Drive.

And no more cinema in Newhall. The Plaza had given up on movies by 1999 and became a banquet hall. As of 2013, the property is listed for sale.

TN7302: 9600 dpi jpeg from color transparency (slide film).

Plaza Theatre 1973

Plaza & Newhall Bowl 1973

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