San Fernando Valley : TAKE TWO

A sunbaked, vacant lot is all that remains of the Madrid Theater on Sherman Way in Canoga Park, where folks once watched the likes of Rudolph Valentino flitting silently across the silver screen.

But a local group hopes to resurrect the site to its former glory. With the city’s assistance, it is working on plans to build a $2.6-million performing arts center.

“It will be like the Phoenix rising from the ashes,” said Jim Domine, conductor of the West Valley Symphony, which is involved in the planning.

On Thursday, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency voted to endorse the plan, which has the support of Mayor Richard Riordan.


The proposal hinges on approval of a $2.6-million federal grant, city officials said. That would come from a pool of $30 million earmarked for earthquake relief for the area.

The theater, built around 1927, originally offered vaudeville acts, silent movies, and later, talkies. It eventually degenerated into the Pussycat Theater, which showed pornographic movies until the Northridge earthquake, when the back wall collapsed and the building was condemned.

The planned two-story facility could accommodate a variety of events, including plays, symphonies and movies, city officials said.