Friends of the RIALTO



The Friends of the Rialto is an advocacy group dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of the beautiful Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena, California.


The Rialto Theatre was built in 1925 and designed by Lewis A. Smith, designer of dozens of movie Palaces in Southern California. From the beginning the Rialto  presented a combination of movies and live vaudeville,  and still has a fly-gallery, dressing rooms and a green room.  The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ was removed after a fire in the 1970’s, although the organ console has recently returned home to South Pasadena and is on display at the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation’s museum.


While the Rialto remains in remarkably original condition,  it has fallen into a state of disrepair.  A few years ago the lease-holder stopped continuous operation and only rented it for special occasions. It was recently closed to the public completely, and until repairs are made it will not be able to be used.


The Friends of the Rialto has multiple goals,  the most immediate is to stand for preservation of the Rialto, and to be a part of negotiations for any future revitalization.  We are not the owners of the building,  just local residents, theater lovers and preservationists who want to see this beautiful theater brought back to life, and once again be a cultural and social center for the community.


There is not one plan, but many options.  Historic Theaters have been saved from worse fates all over the country, and are now successfully operating.  Each success has it’s own story,  and we are exploring them all to find the best fit for the Rialto. 

We are putting together a team of experts and interested individuals.  If you would like to be a part of the process in any way, please visit the How to Help page, join us on Facebook or e-mail us at