From Bob Hope Theater to JW Assembly Hall

by Hecce 13 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Hecce

    Just a remembrance of the Woodland Hills, CA Assembly Hall. I am enclosing a partial copy of a Wikipedia article covering the purchase and subsequent sale of the facility by the JW. I am enclosing the link and please pay attention to the Bold portion of the document.

    The theater project was backed by entertainers Bob Hope and Art Linkletter, along with Cy Warner.

    The 2865-seat facility opened July 6, 1964 with The Sound of Music.[1] The first year saw the theater mount 18 musicals, three comedies, a drama, as well as concerts with a combined audience of over 600,000.

    Among the performers who appeared at the Valley Music Theater wereSammy Davis Jr., Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Woody Allen, Ray Charles,Art Linkletter, Robert Goulet, Mitzi Gaynor, Ike & Tina Turner, Peter, Paul & Mary, B.B. King, Lou Rawls, Three Dog Night, Jim Croce, and the Spiral Starecase. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Doors appeared there together on February 22, 1967.[2]


    By 1966 the theater began to fall on hard times.[3] Over the years, the fare changed from legitimate theater, to rock concerts, to boxing matches, until in 1980 it became a Jehovah's Witness Regional Assembly Hall. By 2004, the church had outgrown the facility and sold the property, which it had bought for $1 million, to the developer JPI for $30 million.

  • darkspilver

    Firstly, don't worry, the Bob Hope Theatre, located just a stones throw from his birth place - in Eltham, London - is still around

    Anyway, back to the OP....

  • Village Idiot
    Village Idiot

    I attended circuit assemblies there. I loved the design of the building with its rotating stage. It also had the 7 days of creation paintings hanging on the wall in the anteroom.

    I remember once a young girl from my congregation getting baptized in the small pool whose mother was desperate to see her daughter through the dense crowd. She wasn't able to make it on time and she was crying all through the assembly.

  • Hecce


    Thanks, nothing new under this sun here.

    I think the previous article doesn't mention the 30 million $$$$$ involved.

    The parking was a bit of a problem, but it was centrally located. It was sold under the pretense that the 101 FWY was going to be expanded and that it was going to impact the property. That was not in the cards, there was an offer made for a piece of land in Santa Clarita, they put a $100,000.00 deposit without contingencies.

    When the the soil analysis was done they discovered than the land was not suitable for an A Hall and they lost the money; the only satisfaction that they got out of that was firing the Realtor, a brother that was nicknamed Mr Magoo due to his resemblance.

  • AnneB

    They have the purchase year wrong on Wikipedia, I was baptized at Woodland Hills in January, 1975. I believe it was the first month the place was used as a JW facility. There was no heat, the baptism pool was outside, and January in SoCal isn't all that warm!

    I never understood why they took out the creation panels from the lobby. People used to pose for pictures there; we did it every assembly.

  • Dagney

    If you search for Woodland Hills on this site you will find several threads on the hall.

    I have great memories of assemblies there even though I was assigned to the hood, LaMert Theater. I had friends in the valley and we went to visit from time to time.

  • the girl next door
    the girl next door

    JWs did not "outgrow" the property. All circuits that attended on rotation nearly every weekend only filled the place to 70% capacity. Once upon a time in its heyday it was full because circuits were not divided into A and B parts as they were when the property sold. It had a full cafeteria that served elaborate hot meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner on lengthy assembly days in the 70s. Also consession stands (4 or 5?)around the perimeter of the hall served all the regular food stuffs Watchtower was known for before that was all done away with. Overnight camping was also the norm in the upper parking lot in the 70s to early 80s. It was actually fun times for us kids.

    Not many people know how the building was constructed. A massive mound of dirt was made and then reinforced concrete poured to create the dome. The dirt was removed and the hall finished. The atrium arch was done the same. As kids we would scale the dome and get in massive trouble.

    The property manager(I won't disclose his name) lived in the apartments by the upper parking lot. He was made an offer for the property and forwarded to the Watchtower. They took the offer. The building was plowed and high end condos stand in its place.

  • never a jw
    never a jw

    30 million!!!, then they get a property 80 miles away (Norco) for quite possibly under a million. The brothers and sisters now have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra gasoline and car wear and tear to get to the cheap facility in Norco. Is there some benefit to society? None whatsoever; it's a waste of scarce resources that we should preserve for future generations, but the Watchtower profited handsomely. That's all they care.

  • DNCall

    The creation panels in the lobby were painted by Drew Struzan. Drew is a celebrated artist who is famous for his movie posters. He is the preferred artist of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, etc. He is the creator of the posters for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Cannonball Run, and numerous others.

    I vaguely recall that some pedantic elder took issue with one of the panels not being completely accurate per the Biblical account. I believe Drew was asked to paint over the offending element and did.

    Fortunately, Drew, his wife and son left the cult some years ago.

  • Chook

    There not many building corporations like WT , it renovates and builds with free labour . I always love seeing them in hard hats on site , when in reality they needed the hats for the meetings at KH so the mental bullshit coming down from platform wouldn't damage their mental capacity .

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