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Hollywood Heritage Celebrates Preservation Month
Dear Members, Supporters and Friends,
Since 1973 each May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation kicks off National Preservation Month, a month of celebrating America’s historic places. This year Hollywood Heritage joins the Trust to celebrate Preservation Month and its stated intention to “tell the full American Story” and offer ways to discover and save places that showcase the depth and diversity of our nation’s history.
We believe that Hollywood is among those places through which the full American story is told. Few places in our country have captured the nation’s imagination quite like Hollywood. Its historical geography is a crossroads of indigenous tribes, Mexican Ranchos, Midwestern idealists, and Jewish filmmakers. It is a place that was settled and built by American migrants as well as immigrants and artists from every continent. The resulting creative atmosphere in Hollywood mixed with a quintessential American entrepreneurship would nurture the early motion picture business, enabling it to become one of the nation’s greatest industries and a cultural force of international significance. Even today Hollywood remains a destination for strivers with a dream, a place of pilgrimage for tourists and community of professionals, workers and free spirits. It is also a place where history is made with Los Angeles’s first LGBT Pride Parade and more recently as the site of one of nation’s largest marches in support Black Lives Matter.
Hollywood, as well as being culturally and historically significant is also rich in architectural treasures. Along its streets and boulevards is the second largest concentration of historic buildings in Los Angeles outside of downtown. This collection of historic resources encompasses tracts of craftsman bungalows, neighborhoods of Mediterranean villas and storybook cottages as well as majestic and exotic theaters, art deco delights and modern masterpieces. Hollywood’s beating heart however, is the Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment National Historic District, and its famous Walk of Fame, lined with Hollywood stars of the past and present.
Preservation Month 2021 arrives at a time when Hollywood Boulevard, a bit battered and bruised, is finally awakening from its pandemic slumber. No time could be better to shine a spotlight on its great and glamorous past, its troubled present and uncertain future. Hollywood Heritage invites you to join us in celebrating Hollywood as our treasured place, one that tells a unique but all-embracing American story through its history and historic buildings, a place you help protect through your generous support of Hollywood Heritage.
Throughout May learn more about the history and architecture of Hollywood virtually through our websites and social media. We are preparing a host of images, essays, blog posts and online events for you to join the celebration. Follow our Instagram posts @ hollywood_heritage, and our Facebook pages Hollywood Heritage and Preserving Hollywood’s Heritage, on Twitter @HWDHeritage and finally on our main web page at https://www.hollywoodheritage.org and that of our Preservation Resource Center https://www.hhprc.org. Come celebrate and experience Hollywood like it has never been seen before.
Looking forward to seeing you all back at the Barn this summer!
President, Hollywood Heritage
109 Years Ago - May 8, 1912
Famous Players Film Company was born. It was film company founded by Adolph Zukor. In 1916 it merged with Jesse Lasky Feature Play company to form Famous Players-Lasky, which in time becomes Paramount Pictures. Hollywood Heritage's most valuable artifact, the Lasky-DeMille Barn, stands as a reminder to our commitment to preservation.
Decurion Corporation recently announced the shuttering of their Pacific Theatres chain, upscale Arclight Theatres brand, and the Cinerama Dome adjacent to the Hollywood Arclight earlier this week. The iconic 58-year-old Cinerama Dome located at 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. was envisioned as the first of hundreds of similar domes across the country promoting the Cinerama brand and large screen movies in the early 1960s.
Pacific Theatres founder and Cinerama chief executive William Forman recognized the power of event films and the large screen to draw audiences away from the growing popularity of television. Inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Geodesic Dome” principle of construction and designed by Welton Becket and Associates, architect for landmarks like the Capitol Records Building and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the 937-seat Cinerama Dome was the first stand-alone theatre in the Cinerama brand and the first with concrete roof. The unique roof featured 316 pre-cast hexagonal panels weighing approximately 3,200 pounds each and the theatre interior featured a wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling screen and the traditional three projector Cinerama system.
The Cinerama Dome opened November 7, 1963 after only 16 weeks of full-time construction with the film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” featuring a single lens projector employing an anamorphic version of 70mm Todd A-O, rather than the traditional three projector Cinerama setup. Over the years, the Cinerama Dome has hosted many premieres and screenings of Hollywood blockbusters, including “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Grand Prix,” “Paint Your Wagon,” “Play Misty For Me,” “Apocalypse Now,” “1941,” “E. T.,” “Star Trek IV: The Long Voyage Home,” “Star Wars: Episode II: Revenge of the Sith,” and “Avatar.” The theatre itself has cameoed in such film and TV shows as “Girl in Gold Boots,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Entourage,” “Melrose Place,” “Keanu,” and most recently in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
In 1998, Pacific Theatres announced plans to drastically remodel the Cinerama Dome’s interior, including knocking down interior walls, removing and replacing the original giant curved screen with a flat one, removing the original seating to install stadium seating, and installing a restaurant in the lobby. Hollywood Heritage joined with the Los Angeles Conservancy and Friends of Cinerama to defend the beloved landmark. Bowing to pressure, the company agreed not to gut the building; they left the Dome largely intact and constructed the ArcLight complex around it in 2002 instead. On December 18, 1998, the Cinerama Dome was named City of Los Angeles’ Historic Cultural Landmark #659. Hollywood Heritage will continue to advocate for the preservation and continued use of the iconic Cinerama Dome as a premier motion picture theater. Sign up for updates on this evolving story and other preservation news at our E-Mail sign-up.
T H E H O L L Y W O O D H E R I T A G E M U S E U M
Hollywood Heritage Inc. has owned and operated the Lasky DeMille barn since 1982. The building was originally constructed as a horse barn in 1904 by Jacob Stern, whose estate was on Vine Street, just south of Prospect Ave. (later Hollywood Blvd.). Called "Casa Las Palmas" it had been built earlier by Col. Robert Northam. In early 1912, Louis Loss Burns (later founder of Western Costume) and director Harry Revier rented it from Mr. Stern, whose only condition was that half the barn would have to be reserved for his horses and automobiles. The newly rechristened Burns & Revier Studio and Film Laboratory. When Cecil B. DeMille, Director-General of the Jesse L. Lasky Company came West to find a location to shoot his planned film, "The Squaw man," he was told of the barn studio and subsequently rented it. The success of this neophyte film company led to a merger with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company and the eventual establishment of Paramount Pictures. The barn was moved to the new Paramount lot in 1927 and after 52 years as the studio gym on the Melrose Avenue studio, the barn became a museum in 1985.