The beautiful building at the end of the harbor in Avalon, on Catalina Island is the historic landmark, the Casino. Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California has long been a favorite summer getaway for the rich and famous, as well as those not quite so rich. While it has grown in size and popularity, the town of Avalon still maintains the ambience of a small summer beach town even though it has grown in population and is popular year round. As so much of the island is owned by the Nature Conservancy, there is a natural control which prevents the sprawl which has been inflicted on so many other coastal towns
History of the Casino.
After the Casino was built in 1929, all the major big bands of the era played in the Casino Ballroom. The ballroom which once held over 6,000 people is still available for weddings or other special events. It was restored a few years ago, and still has black Art Deco Reliefs and Tiffany chandeliers handing from a fifty foot ceiling.
The small island museum downstairs tells the story of the people and places on Catalina Island and the City of Avalon. There are archeological materials from the island and a wealth of photographs taken through the years. There is a small gift shop.
A fabulous movie theater and historic organ.
Today the Casino Theater is still in its traditional condition, and boasts the glory of the best of Art Deco architecture. The theater is now used to show movies. The pipe organ fills the huge theater with wonderful music on Friday and Saturday nights. Even though it is not needed to play for silent movies now, there are occasional fund raisers in which the organ plays for silent films. The organ is on the American Theater Organ Society Registry of historic and significant instruments as it is one of the few organs of its caliber in existence. Going to the movies on Catalina Island early enough to listen to the organ concert is one of the best things to do on the island. Listening to the organ allows the chance to take in the beauty of the interior. The ceiling is full of tiny lights for stars in the blue painted ceiling sky, and the murals on the walls tell the story of California history.
The beautiful Casino is the landmark everyone sees when they take the boat from the California mainland the 26 miles across the sea, as the song goes. Those on a day trip may not take the time to go for a tour, but those who stay overnight for a weekend or more, can go back in time to the 1930s and 1940s when the Hollywood celebrities filled this theater.
Source: Personal Experience.