The History of SonLight


Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Orange, California

 September / October 2002
Page 5

Historical Society will Tour Old Orange Theatre 

Today, it is the "Son Light Christian Center," but the day after it opened on May 22, 1929, the Orange Daily News reported that "Bright lights, lilting music, gorgeous drapings, beautiful color blendings, flowers and crowds, crowds, crowds, crowds...were the ingredients, blended with a master’s touch, that marked the grand opening of Orange's new cinema palace, the Orange Theatre, last night." 

On Thursday, Sept.26, the Orange Community Historical Society will offer a rare opportunity to tour this historical building located at 172 N. Glassell Street. 

Although many of the original furnishings have been replaced, the building retains important architectural characteristics, including the decorative details on the front of the building above the marquee. 

Its current use for religious services is a far cry from its original mission reported in the "News": "Dedicated to the advancement of the cinema art in the Orange community, the motion picture temple stands as a credit to the city, the county and to its creators- M. Eltiste, the owner, C.L. Langley, lessee, and A.  B. Crawford, resident manager." 

During opening ceremonies, "Crawford was introduced as resident manager and declared it would be the policy of the house to show only the best that could be obtained in screen and stage entertainment." 

The meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 is free and open to the public. While it may not attract the "crowds, crowds, crowds" reported at the theatre opening, “our meetings usually attract about 60 to 70 people, and I'm sure this event will be even larger,” said Society President Barbara Muench Resnick, the granddaughter of Michael Eltiste, who completed the building after the original builder ran out of money.

Barbara’s mother, who was secretary-treasurer of the Eltiste Farm Implement and Truck Company on the opposite corner, became owner of the theatre in a stock exchange with her father.

For more information about the meeting, call the Orange Community Historical Society, 734-8034.


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