The young man pictured below is Lyndon “Lynn” Aufdenkamp (circa 1916). In addition to having been a prominent figure in Laguna Beach’s early twentieth century development, Mr. Aufdenkamp was also the city’s first cinema operator and the namesake for all of the movie theatres which have operated in Laguna Beach over the past ninety five years.
Laguna’s rather confusing theatre history started shortly before 1915, when the Aufdenkamp family began showing silent films in downtown Laguna Beach, on a bed sheet that was strung up across a set of eucalyptus trees; the projectionist for these early screenings being none other than Lynn Aufdenkamp, the individual pictured above. After finding success with the outdoor venue, family patriarch, Fred Aufdenkamp, created the city’s first formal cinema at 255 Forest Avenue; naming the venue after his son, Lynn. In 1922, the family opened a second Lynn Theatre, at 162 South Coast Highway; re branding the original Lynn as the “Old Lynn”, to differentiate between the two venues. The “Old Lynn” would only last for a few more years, eventually transitioning in to non theatre use and, temporarily, leaving Laguna with only one Lynn cinema.
Literally located at Laguna Beach’s lowest elevation point, the Pacific Coast Highway Lynn suffered through a series of floods, as both canyon runoff and ocean storms regularly ravaged the building. After particularly heavy storms hit in 1933, damage to the theatre was severe enough to force the theatre’s closure and warrant new construction. Attempting to stay in business while a new theatre was built, the Aufdenkamp’s opened yet another Lynn, via the “Ocean Avenue Lynn“, at 250 Ocean Avenue. In June of 1935, the rebuilt Pacific Coast Highway site was completed, creating what was billed as “The New Lynn”, to accompany the Ocean Avenue Lynn.
The tradition of the Lynn moniker came to an end by the late 1930’s, as the Aufdenkamps sold off their theatre interests to the Vincent family; who soon renamed the Ocean Avenue Lynn, as the “Laguna Theatre”, and the Pacific Coast Highway site, “South Coast Cinema”. By the late 1950’s, only the South Coast Cinema remained, as all of the other former Lynn’s had given way to redevelopment. Today, the original Forest Avenue site is a retail clothing outlet and the Ocean Avenue Lynn, a bank parking lot.
Laguna’s theatre namesake, Lynn Aufdenkamp, passed away in 1992, but his legacy lives on with the city’s lone remaining movie theatre, Regency’s South Coast Cinemas (the one time “New Lynn” was twinned in 1976).
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