A LOSS and SOMETHING TO WATCH
Morgan, Walls and Clement, La Brea Ave., 1935
This beautiful Morgan, Walls and Clement building, most recently occupied by the Mole Richardson theatrical and film lighting business, was eligible for listing on the national register, which should have triggered an Environmental Impact Report. Instead, the building was demolished in days, with a demolition permit reportedly issued by the Department of Building and Safety. Both Hollywood Heritage and the Loss Angeles Conservancy are looking into this devastating loss, as it is a major erosion to the context of the La Brea corridor, which contains numerous Art Deco structures. All of these buildings are endangered if the process which led to this demolition remains unchecked and the questions unanswered.
The Warner Pacific Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard
Up until a year ago, a church tenant was occupying the 1928 Warner Pacific Theatre in Hollywood at Cahuenga and was issued an eviction notice, an indication that plans may be underway for the structure. In recent years. this theatre, the largest on Hollywood Boulevard (3500 seats) had been planned as a site for Hollywood Entertainment museum, althought that plan was changed when the museum moved to Hollywood and Sycamore and several years later, closed. At that time there was talk of building a large tower behind the theatre, a still-discussed option. This theatre was designed by G. Albert Landsburgh for the original owner, Warner Brothers Studio. Warners was in a building mode after having experienced great success in introducing sound to feature films in 1926. In the theatre lobby is a tribute plaque to Sam Warner who supervised the building of the structure, but unfortunately passed before its completion. This theatre is in the center of the National Register District and is therefore key to the entire district, which makes it of great interest to Hollywood Heritage, the sponsor of the district designation in 1985. Anyone who sees anything going on in or at this theatre is encouraged to contact Hollywood Heritage, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation or The Los Angeles Conservancy immediately.
The vintage photos from the Department of Water and Power collection, show the theatre just before it opened and through its heyday. Of note are the two neon radio towers, which were practical as station KFWB broadcast from the theatre. Under the "Pacific" squares on the towers are still the original "Warner" letters - thank goodness they both had six letters!
The Stromberg Jewelry company, an original tennant installed a street clock, which was restored in the 1980s and theoretically could still operate. The last remaining 1930 tenant was the Smoke Shop which just left the building within the last few months.
The premiere of the first sound film, "Don Juan" in 1926 marked the beginning of Warner revolutionizing the industry. At right above some of the murals can be seen between the Italianate columns and arches. Many of these murals remain in the theatre, covered by velvet drapes.
These recent shots of the theatre reveal many remaining original details, plus some later remodelings such as covering the Warner sign and a 1950s marquee which was added to attract motorists rather than pedestrians. The successful restoration and operation of the Chinese Theatre and the El Capitan along with the repurposed Egyptian Theatre clearly indicate that rehabilitating this theatre is not out of the question and that the demolition of all or part of it would be a significant loss in historic fabric to the historic district and to all of Hollywood itself.
Hollywood's Most Endangered Sites
From the Preservation Issues Committee of Hollywood Heritage, Inc. A casual glance at the state of Hollywood's historic resources shows good signs and much progress toward determining the number and kind of extant resources. Two long awaited and thorough historic surveys of the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Area and the greater Hollywood Community Plan Area have identified scores of structures and broadened our understanding of the region's history and architectural heritage. The previous downturn in the economy slowed demolitions of historic structures, however the economy has improved and now there are growing threats to many of Hollywood's most significant landmarks, some imminent. In an effort to encourage good stewardship of Hollywood's irreplaceable historic resources and to inform our members of these issues, Hollywood Heritage has launched its list of the Most Endangered Sites.
Hollywood Studios: Hollywood studios are the essential element of historic Hollywood, the economic engine and the most endangered of our resources after Hollywood Blvd. Studios created our town and continue to be important to its well being. Hollywood Heritage is aware that there are expansion and development plans being prepared for Hollywood Center, Paramount, Sunset Gower, and the Sunset Bronson Studios. Within each of these studios are historic structures; each of these studios were participants in the Hollywood Studio Task Force put together by former Councilman Michael Woo. Hollywood Heritage cooperated with the formation of this group as it promised surveys of the participating lots and notification whenever a historically significant building was affected by plans. We do not know whether historic structures are threatened by these various studio development plans at this stage, but we naturally are concerned by the scope of the large scale developments described by the media. We hope that current Councilman Eric Garcetti will be supportive of discussions between the studios and Hollywood Heritage so that we can continue to work cooperatively with the studios concerning their development plans.
Hollywood Plans: “The City of Los Angeles has no staff to conduct planning efforts with in the City.” Not so. The Planning Department of the City is currently circulating a Hollywood Community Plan Update which proposes changes to the underlying zoning and which may encourage more development. The Office of Historic Preservation has just conducted a survey of the Hollywood area. The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) is currently considering Hollywood Boulevard Urban Design Guidelines and the Sunset Boulevard Urban Design Guidelines and has completed a survey of the redevelopment area. Hollywood Heritage is currently working with the CRA/LA, the Planning Department, and the Office of Historic Preservation to ensure cohesion and adequate mitigation in these plans and encourage policies and new development that seek to preserve the character of Hollywood.
OFF THE LIST!
5346 Virginia Ave./Hollywood Bungalows:
In November 2010, Hollywood Heritage narrowly prevented the demolition of an intact 1905 vintage bungalow located next to the 101 Freeway. Owned by an absentee landlord in England, the house was listed on two historic resource surveys and did not have approval for demolition. Saved from the wrecking crew, the house continued to be neglected, unsecure and open to vagrants. Hollywood Heritage recently learned that former Hollywood Heritage Board Member Edward Hunt and his wife, Martha, have purchased the property. They have started to fully restore the single-family house to its original exterior condition and anticipate two minor interior wall changes. Work has begun with seismic safety upgrades. During the fourth quarter of this year, work should begin in earnest with completion expected near the end of the first quarter of 2013. The three-bedroom house will be lovingly brought back to life; new amenities include a third bathroom. Stay tuned for the final results of another successful restoration story in Hollywood.
This case highlights the plight of Hollywood’s oldest and most common historic housing type, the bungalow, scores of which have been lost in recent decades. Protection of these resources through proper planning and maintenance is essential for the preservation and rehabilitation of Hollywood’s single-family residential neighborhoods.
If you know of a rehabilitated bungalow that should be acknowledged, please send a photograph and particulars to Hollywood Heritage, P.O. Box 2586, Hollywood, CA 90078 or email us at email@example.com .
Moved from Endangered to The "Watch" List
The Great Hall/Long Hall, Plummer Park in West Hollywood
Hollywood Heritage has placed West Hollywood’s Plummer Park (“Park”) on its Watch List. The Park located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood includes the 1938 Works Progress Administration (“WPA”) funded Great Hall/Long Hall building. In the current plan for West Hollywood Plummer Park improvements, this classic building is slated for demolition. A group organized as Protect Plummer Park (“PPP”) is working to convince the city of West Hollywood that the destruction of this building is not in the best interest of neighbors or park users as it is a significant contributor to the character and history of the park.
Through grassroots outreach, PPP gained support, and continues to gain support, from neighbors and park users and has caught the attention of the City Council of West Hollywood. Although the council has made moves toward mitigating the concerns voiced by the public, the fate of Great Hall/Long Hall still remains uncertain.
Since 2010, Hollywood Heritage’s Preservation Committee, has voiced concerns with demolishing Great Hall/Long Hall in public comment and letters to the City of West Hollywood during the Environmental Impact Report review period.
The building appears eligible for both state and local landmark status. PPP is gathering information to submit a nomination for inclusion in the California register of historic places. The history of the building is significant in both its connection to WPA, early California culture, and local development of Los Angeles County. As noted in the EIR, Great Hall/Long Hall “retains sufficient integrity to convey its original design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.” The structure is a courtyard building with Great Hall running North/South along the west side and Long Hall running East/West on the south side. Great Hall contains a stage and small auditorium, a service kitchen, and a library area that was, until recently, home to the Los Angeles Audubon Society. Long Hall, until recently housed the Russian Library.
Funding for the Great Hall/Long Hall was split between WPA funding and Los Angeles County Parks for a total amount of $60,000-$65,000 in 1938. This equates to approximately a $1 million dollar construction budget in today’s terms.
PPP believes that this is not just an issue concerning West Hollywood residents surrounding the park. It extends to a much larger audience as it has significant impact in honoring the Depression-era history of Los Angeles County.
Hollywood Heritage will continue to monitor developments in Plummer Park. If you are interested in learning more about the status of issues surrounding Plummer Park, please go to protectplummerpark.com.
For more information, or to get involved contact: [email protected]
The Endangered List - With Updates - 11/11/12
The Fifth Church of Christ Scientist
The dwindling congregation recently sold this 1959 modern masterpiece of architect Howard Elwell, located at 7107 Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood Heritage, alerted by the Modern Committee of LA Conservancy, has learned that the new owner has plans to demolish the church and build a hotel at the site. The uncertain fate of the Fifth Church of Christ also represents the wider issue of the preservation of modern architecture in Hollywood. While landmarks such as the Capital Records Building and the Cinerama Dome are widely celebrated and cared-for, other structures such as the William Lescaze early modern CBS Columbia Square and Millard Sheet's 1967 Home Savings & Loan Association of America at Sunset and Vine are somewhat neglected. Others such as Honnold, Reibsamen & Rex's 1963 Sunset and Vine Tower have been radically transformed. A quick look at the surrounding high rise residential gives a preview of what the density on this corner will look like and how it will affect the context of such structures as the Women's Club of Hollywood and the Hollywood School for Girls just north of the WCH.
“Hollywood Boulevard is back!” or so conventional wisdom would have it. However, with the Boulevard’s success has come a growing pressure on the resources of this nationally recognized historic commercial and entertainment district. Hollywood Heritage is aware that there are development plans being proposed for several sites including Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Sardis Building, and the property at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Hudson across from the recently restored Hillview Hotel. Hollywood Heritage is attempting to monitor all of these sites in an attempt to encourage sensitive changes to preserve the historic character of this National Register District. Everyone’s alertness to changes on the Boulevard is appreciated.
Orchard Gables is off the list!
Womans Club of Hollywood and
Hollywood School for Girls:
Located at 1749 N. La Brea Avenue, this site contains a complex of historic structures including the 1904 Hollywood School For Girls hospitality house and the 1947 Hollywood Women's Clubhouse. The effects of years of deferred maintenance and mismanagement including the demolition of historic structures on the site, have been compounded by recent inter-organizational struggles and legal action which has lead to the neglect of the historic buildings. A recent grant from the National Trust to do much needed roof repairs on the clubhouse was put on hold and recent rains did further damage. The property is now in receivership and its fate remains an open question. In November and December of 2011, work is continuing which potentially negatively affects this structure. Although work is being reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission, much work is reputed to be initiated without proper permits, by unqualified workers and without the supervision of anyone qualified to judge appropriate work on a cultural heritage landmark. This site continues to be of concern to preservationists.
As of Last Month...
The effects of years of deferred maintenance and mismanagement, including the demolition of historic structures on the site, have been compounded by recent inter-organization struggles and legal action which has led to the neglect of the historic buildings. Hopefully, a step in the right direction has been taken. On June 4, 2012, a receiver was appointed by the Los Angeles Superior Court for the purpose of taking possession of the real and personal property of the Woman’s Club and operating it pending the election of a new Board. A quick inspection of the property indicates that the remaining structures on the site are intact. Their fate, however, remains an open question.
The Superior Court requested that an new election be held, following a previous, nullified election. That election took place and the current board was then seated. The original receiver for the property - which is now in bankruptcy to forestall any questionable sale - was removed and a new receiver installed. The records of the club have not been turned over to the judge as requested, so the recent financial history of the club remains unknowable. This issue points out the difficulty of managing properties even after they have been designated Cultural Heritage landmarks. Compounding the difficulty is the value of the property and the complex communications between the club management and the members. Requests for assistance have been made to the State Attorney General's office, division of Non-Profits as well as the council office and the City Attorney's office, but no progress has been made.