A video showing a “Goth CVS” has sparked interest online after being viewed over 3 million times, but there’s an even more interesting story behind it.
TikTok user @hahaahahahumadornah filmed the CVS store with a friend, showing them walking together into the drugstore to the tune of “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace. The extravagant building appears fit from a different era with its gothic architecture—bar the bright red CVS logo added to it.
Since being shared on June 20, the clip, which can also be seen here, has gained over 500,000 likes with viewers just as confused as intrigued.
The video actually showed an East Los Angeles CVS store on the corner of Whittier and Atlantic Boulevards. Prior to being converted to a CVS store in 2012, the building was the Golden Gate Theater, built in 1927.
The Spanish Churrigueresque-style theater was actually a movie palace built by Peter Snyder, known as the “Father of the East Side,” and designed by William and Clifford Balch, two well-known picture house architects. The Golden Gate Theater was the first East LA building to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Surrounding the building was The Vega Building, a historic retail space which was demolished in the early 1990s after severe damage from the 1987 Whittier earthquake. After closing in the mid 80s, the Golden Gate Theater sat empty for years, made worse by a damaged roof which allowed the elements to further deteriorate it. Intruders would also visit the building, causing even more destruction.
In 2012, CVS was granted permission to convert the building into a store. At the time, the LA Times reported that: “Supervisor Gloria Molina, whose district includes the theater, said that while the project would not restore the theater to its full glory, it was better than leaving the building vacant and dilapidated.”
As shown in the video, some of the inside has been left as its former glory, along with the outside. According to reports, the high ceilings were saved and a large portion is still visible in the store, with thin tubular lamps being suspended from the shelves instead of regular light fixtures, in order to avoid damaging the ceilings.
At the front of the store, a pair of swinging glass doors, like the old theatre doors, were used instead of CVS’ usual automatic, sliding ones. A third set of doors were even added, though they don’t work, to imitate the look of the movie-theatre in its heyday.
Images of the theatre are displayed by the CVS registers and the “clam shell-shaped ticket booth and tiled fountains” from the building, which were a huge focus of the Los Angeles Conservancy at the time.
In 2008, when previous owners Charles Company were in talks of selling to Walgreens, the Los Angeles Conservancy wrote that they would, “be working with the new buyer, as well as County Supervisor Gloria Molina’s office, to seek retention of the theatre’s historic interior features, such as the proscenium, lobby, clamshell-shaped concession stand, and mezzanine level, while encouraging the adaptive reuse of this long-vacant historic property.
They’re similar sentiments to those expressed by viewers on TikTok, who amid the confusion, were upset by the use of such a historic building being used commercially.