On the Boulevard
ON THIS PAGE: The Warner Pacific Theatre
Preservation of Hollywood Boulevard:
The Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district is comprised of over 100 buildings located between Argyle and El Centro. Listed at the national level of significance, the district is one of the most significant in the nation. Its buildings tell the story of Hollywood’s famous “main street” during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the period when the community received worldwide attention as the motion picture capital of the world. Between 1915 and 1935, Hollywood Boulevard was transformed from a residential street of stately Victorian homes to a bustling commercial center. This concentration of buildings on the Boulevard is a microcosm of the era’s significant architectural styles, and the massing, scale, and continuity of the streetscape are an excellent example of development patterns of the period.
The collection of buildings is a mix of business, entertainment, and commercial structures, with the architectural style appropriate to their original use and marketing image. Classical Beaux Arts Revival styles symbolize the financial and professional solidity of the highrises; more “modern” storefronts populate the smaller retail buildings. The flamboyant fantasy and Art Deco designs of the theaters and entertainment venues are highly visible. Spanish Colonial Revival was a popular choice for business blocks. The Boulevard is a pedestrian oriented streetscape at its size and scale, but one which took note of the highly popular automobile. The unparalleled growth of the movie industry during this period provided an infusion of capital that allowed industry chiefs and civic boosters to create a special urban environment. The use of quality materials by masters architects such as Walker and Eisen, John C. Austin, Parkinson and Parkinson, Curlett and Beelman, Morgan, Walls, and Clement, Gogerty and Weil, S. Charles Lee, and Meyer and Holler give the Boulevard its rare character and panache.
Comprised of three commercial nodes linked with low rise structures, the Boulevard visually reflects the development vision for each. The oldest, at the intersection of the famous Cahuenga Pass and Hollywood Boulevard, was part of the original Hollywood ranch purchased and developed by the Wilcox/Beveridge family . At the western end of the street, the area was developed by H.J. Whitley, C.E. Toberman and other players in the syndicate which developed the Hollywood Hotel. The section of the Boulevard around Vine Street was the realm of the Taft and Palmer families and their allied syndicates. These founders created a streetscape with a regular progression of architectural monument interspersed with smaller scaled commercial buildings.
As a destination for visitors and complete community center, the Boulevard of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s was a mix of uses. In addition to its commercial and entertainment facilities are several elegant apartments and hotels built for a highly transient film industry and later to accommodate a growing tourist trade. The Roosevelt Hotel, site of the first Academy Awards, was built by a syndicate which included Mary Pickford, Joseph Schenk, and Douglas Fairbanks. Producer Jesse L. Lasky built the Hillview Apartments to accommodate actors who were in need of housing close to the studios. The district also contains the only remaining residence on the Boulevard, the lovely Queen Anne Janes House built in 1903. Two buildings associated with community institutions, the Masonic Temple and the Congregational Church, complete the street.
The Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District remains one of the world’s most famous streets. With rare examples of the 20th century’s most popular and sophisticated architectural styles, the Boulevard continues to convey its storied period of significance through the individual character of its buildings.
The Warner Pacific Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard
Plans may be underway for the demolition or severe alteration of this significant edifier. Years ago this theatre, the largest on Hollywood Boulevard (3500 seats) was planned as a site for Hollywood Entertainment museum, although 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 away 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.
These vintage photos are from the Department of Water and Power collection. They 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 tenant installed a street clock, designated as Historic Cultural Monument #316. The clock was restored in the 1980s. The last remaining 1930 tenant was the Smoke Shop who left the building just months ago.
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.
In need of re-use!
First National Bank Building
Meyer and Holler, 1928
6777 Hollywood Boulevard at Highland
Listed as Contributor,
National Register of
Hollywood Boulevard Commercial
Security Trust and Savings Building
John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson Architects, 1921
6381 Hollywood Boulevard at Cahuenga
Listed as Significant, National Register
of Historic Places