The Hollywood-California, the hotel that could have been
By Allan R. Ellenberger
Sometimes building projects get no farther than the drawing board—maybe even more so in Hollywood, the land of big dreams. In 1922, the Davenport Corporation announced the construction of a grand building enterprise for the film capitol—The Hollywood-California, a Class A hotel-apartment building to cost in the neighborhood of $3.5 million—a grand neighborhood for 1922.
Architect Harry H. Whitely was hired to complete the design. The site where the hotel would be constructed was comprised of an entire block of frontage on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, between Bronson Avenue and Gower Street, which at the time was known as the Brokaw property. Today the historically significant, former nightclub, the Florentine Gardens, is located on part of that block.
The Hollywood-California Hotel was designed to contain 717 rooms and it was to be built in the shape of a cross, with four wings radiating from a central, octagonal shaped unit. The wings were so designed that each succeeding floor would be stepped back from the floor below, an arrangement which would provide roof-gardens for a number of the apartments occupying ends of the wings.
Whiteley’s design provided single rooms, a single apartment or a double apartment. The studio apartments on the top floor would have two-story living rooms, with balconies, which opened to the bedrooms.
Entrance to the hotel was arranged at the intersections of the wings, between which it was planned to lay out extensive gardens. The main lobby, three stories in height was to be located in the central octagonal unit, and in this lobby the elevators and other service features was located.
The hotel was designed to be a combination of Spanish and Italian. The exterior finish would be of stucco, with a tile roof, while the interior finish of the apartments would be of mahogany, southern gum and pine. Marble wainscoting, with tile flooring and mutual decorations, would be used in the main lobby.
Other features incorporated in the plans, included an auditorium, palm room, dining room, and an auxiliary dining room with a dance floor. The main floor, in addition to these features, would house twenty shops, arranged to permit catering to outside clients, as well as to guests of the hotel. A garage with sufficient capacity to accommodate the automobiles of guests was connected directly to the main building.
Unfortunately, the Hollywood-California Hotel never came to be. No reports of why the project was abandoned were ever published but it was most likely due to finances, zoning or some other such technicality. Had it been built, there is the likelihood that it would have been demolished at some point, to make way for progress as so many of Hollywood’s landmarks have been.