The Merced Theater was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest structures erected in Los Angels for the presentation of dramatic performances, It serves as the center or theatrical activity in the city from 1871 to 1876. The theatre was built by William Abbot, the son of Swiss immigrants who settled in Los Angeles in 1854. In 1858, he married the woman for whom he would name the theatre, María Merced Garcia, the daughter of José Antonio Garcia and María Guadalupe Uribe, who were long-time residents of the Los Angeles pueblo.
The theater was designed by Ezra F. Kysor, the architect of the Pico House. Similar to the Pico ouse, Kysor used the Italianate style, but made the building more ornate. The theater was located on the second floor of the three-story building, The ceiling of the second story is higher than that of the Pico House next door, and adjustment to allow for the stage, scenery and props. This, the building itself rises somewhat above the Pico House. Construction was completed in December, 1870 and the first performance a melodrama entitled “Fachon the Little Cricket,” opened on January 30, 1871/ Performance were mainly given in English, although some production were presented in Spanish. Ticket prices ranged from 50 cents in the balcony to $1.00 for “parquette chairs.”
The opening of Wood’s Opera House in 1876, which was located only four doors south of the Merced, as well as a smallpox epidemic which struck the area that same year, led to the the decline of the Merced Theater. The last performance was given on New Year’s Day, 1877.
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