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For Sale: Bob Baker's Marionette Theater (Minus the Puppets)
It's been a tough few years for Bob Baker and his Echo Park Marionette Theater, and now comes word the venue is going up for sale.
Baker told KPCC that it's costing him too much to maintain and run the theater where he puts on the puppet shows that have been enchanting young (and young-at-heart) Angelenos for 50 years:
Taxes, mortgage payments and the $6,000 a month the theater costs to remain operational have become too much to handle, said Baker, and the revenue stream isn't what it used to be.
The Vernacular-style theatre, originally built in the early 1950s as a special effects workshop, was purchased by Baker and his late business partner Alton Wood in 1961 as a venue for live puppet shows and as a "permanent showcase for hand-crafted marionettes," according to the L.A. Dept. of City Planning. Exactly three years ago this week, the theater was declared an historic cultural monument by the city of Los Angeles.
Kids are still getting to see the shows, but instead of places like department stores hiring the Baker creations, the theater's non-profit affiliate, Academy of Puppetry and the Allied Arts, has been underwriting field trips for schools, who also can't pay to send the kids to the venue.
The theater and the five lots is listed at $2.05 million on Loopnet. Baker hopes whoever buys it will do so with the option of leasing it back to the marionette troupe. Alas, the sale doesn't come with any puppets; those are sticking with Baker and he says he'll take his show on the road if he has to clear off the property.
Previously: In 2005, LAist talked to then-81-year-old Baker about his memories of riding L.A.'s Red Cars, how to handle kids scared of puppets, and why his theater is the center of "his" Los Angeles.