Located on East Los Angeles Avenue between the Sycamore Drive and Tapo Canyon exits of the 118 Freeway, the Gothic structure has enjoyed a variety of tenants before being acquired in 1991 by the City of Simi Valley for reuse as a Cultural Arts Center.
Having been approved as Ventura County Historical Landmark No. 67 in July of 1981, refurbishing the building meant preserving the historical integrity as well. The result is a spectacular Neo-Classis structure in gleaming columned glory showcasing hints of its former life. With the first refurbishing, the church pews, cushioned for comfort, were used as seating on the theater’s main floor. Today some of them grace the lobby as seating for patrons prior to shows and during intermission. But the pew ends were incorporated into the theater seating to preserve the integrity of the theater’s original design.
Other hints of its past elegance are visible as well. A row of sconces in the main theater, a doorway, even a downstairs lobby light fixture that has hung in the same place since1924 are all tributes to the building’s varied and colorful past. The numerous stained glass windows, badly damaged in the earthquake, were duplicated thanks to a researcher discovering that the company that made them in 1924 still existed. Following a call to the New York-based glass craftsmen, it was discovered that the original order was still on file after 71 years and could indeed be duplicated.
The lower level lobby features a working fireplace, the box office, front office and public restrooms. Also on that level is the Multipurpose Room, available for rentals, that also acts as a rehearsal space for the shows. It features a small stage and accesses a fully equipped catering kitchen. The multi-purpose community room has a seating capacity of 93 for dinner or classroom seating for 174. The MPR also leads to the Green Room or preparation area for actors as well as two dressing rooms and an actors’ restroom.
Since the opening in late 1995, the Cultural Arts Center has featured everything from jazz and rock ‘n roll bands to classical music, dramas and musicals, and a variety of choral and dance group performances. It has been rented as a site for weddings of all faiths as well as film shoots, vocal and dance recitals, meetings, photography shoots, showers and private parties.
Building Historic Timeline
The beginning of the road
Located at 3050 Los Angeles Avenue this Gothic structure has served the Simi Valley community since the mid 1920's when it was constructed as the Simi Community Methodist Episcopal Church.
A bumpy start
Earthquakes and fires in 1925 pressed the building into use as classrooms for Simi Elementary and Simi Valley High School.
Huber Family Residence
After the Methodist congregation outgrew the facility, it was sold to the Huber family for use as a mortuary and residence.
Temple Ner Tamid
In 1978 the building was again sold, this time to the Jewish congregation of Temple Ner Tamid.
Ownership transferred to Bob Mitchell, who had dreams of turning the historic structure into a restaurant. Sadly, his plans fell through and the building sat vacant and unattended for some time.
Approved as Ventura County Historical Landmark No. 67 in July of 1981
New Life: City Acquires Building
Damage to the empty building during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake caused the City to consider demolishing the building. Thanks to the persistance of then Mayor Bill Davis and his wife Ginni, preservation grants were found and matched by the city to give the building continued life as the community’s center for cultural arts. The total spent on buying and refurbishing the 15,000 sq. ft. on 1.3 acres at the corner of Los Angeles Avenue and Church Street was $3 million.
Re-opens as Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
On November 3 and 4, 1995 it reopened as the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center with star of stage and screen Rita Moreno in concert. Since then, the Cultural Arts Center has been host to hundreds of performances - plays, musicals, concerts, art shows, films, weddings, receptions, business meetings, youth festivals, and much more. Patrons from near and far have come to enjoy the Center's quality entertainment at family-friendly prices.