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AFTER 68: The Rise and Fall of the Ambassador Hotel

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 19th, 2013
2013
Jun 19

 HOLLYWOOD PRESERVATION

 AFTER 68 The Rise and Fall of the Ambassador Hotel

 

AFTER68A

 

WHAT ELSE ARE YOU WILLING TO DESTROY?

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The most famous hotel in the world… GONE FOREVER. YOUR HELP IS NEEDED to revive the memory of the Ambassador and promote the values of Historic Preservation.

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View the movie trailer and join the fight to preserve your history:

http://www.after68.com/

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Save Plummer Park!

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 23rd, 2012
2012
May 23

HOLLYWOOD PRESERVATION

The effort to Save Plummer Park!

 

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Plummer Park, which is located at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. has been a part of Hollywood/West Hollywood history officially and unofficially for as long as 90 years. The land that the park now sits on plus an additional 97 acres surrounding it was at one time the home of Senor Eugene Plummer (more about him in a future article).

 

Now the City of West Hollywood has approved more than $41.3 million for the Plummer Park Master Plan Phase I Project. Preservation groups are fighting the plan and are claiming the following:

 

  • The construction of an underground parking structure (which will only net an additional 69 spaces) will necessitate demolishing historic WPA buildings, Great Hall/Long Hall as well as the destruction of 54 heritage trees, some of which are over 100 years old.
  • The planned ultra-modern façade of Fiesta Hall is out-of-line with the charm and architecture of a block that includes seven landmarked buildings. Given the character of the street a modern design is inappropriate.
  • This project will require the complete closure of a majority of the park for almost two years with heavy construction, noise, pollution and increased traffic in an already congested area.

 

The City of West Hollywood denies most of these claims and states the following is true about the trees:

  • 76 trees of the existing 210 trees will remain in place.
  • 80 trees will be carefully boxed, save and replanted.
  • 90 new trees will be added, each will be a minimum of 72” boxed trees, all large trees one day.

 

There are seven trees in Plummer Park that are considered to be of significance: three will be saved (two will be protected in place and one will be boxed, saved and replanted): three will be removed but will not be replanted due to poor health as determined by the project arborist and one tree will not be able to be saved due to size and location of the tree.

 

 

 How many trees will be saved?

 

If this is true, perhaps the reports are not as bad as first thought. However I have problems trusting government bureaucrats. Hopefully the West Hollywood city council are true to their word and can be trusted.  We will see.

 

But the part of the plan  I am against, and what, as my mother would say, “really burns me up,” is the loss of another historically important building in this city. The proposed plan involves the demolition of the Great Hall/Long Hall. They admit that the demolition is not insignificant, but claims it is integral in meeting critical community and project objectives including the creation of more parkland/green/open space, and a gain of more than 14,000 square feet.

 

 

 SAVE Great Hall/Long Hall

 

What they don’t mention is that the Great Hall/Long Hall was built by the Workers Progress Administration (WPA) and is the only WPA building remaining in West Hollywood. Historically significant buildings in Los Angeles are constantly being destroyed for the sake of progress. The major changes suggested by the city for Plummer Park could be an asset, but not at the cost of losing our history. Yes, I’m a tree hugger, yes I’m a preservationist. Hey West Hollywood, find a way to save the Great Hall/Long Hall.

 

 

 

 

There is much more to this fight than I can list here so please, for more information click on the following links:

 

City of West Hollywood’s Plummer Park Master Plan

 

Protect Plummer Park Now!

 

The Grass Roots Effort to Save Plummer Park

 

AND–Tell the City Council to STOP the project and to develop an alternative plan that we can all support. GO TO:

 

Protect Plummer Park (if you are concerned, please sign the petition to let them know how you feel!)

 

In a few days I will post the story of Senior Eugene Rafael Plummer, after who Plummer Park is named, which incidentally there is only one plaque at the park which mentions his name. They should do something to memorialize his memory, but that is another story.

 

 

The only connection to Senor Eugene Plummer is this one plaque (I guess we should be luck there is that!)

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Friar’s Club is no more

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 29th, 2011
2011
Jan 29

 HOLLYWOOD PRESERVATION 

Friars Club building in Beverly Hills being razed

 

 

(flickr)

 

 

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – The iconic building that once housed the Friars Club of Beverly Hills is being torn down.

 

Demolition of the building at 9900 Santa Monica Blvd., which housed the club until a 2007 lawsuit by the New York Friars forced the private Beverly Hills group to change its name, began this week and continued Thursday.

 

Milton Berle founded the club in 1947 as a West Coast outpost of the New York club. It became a showbiz hotspot, and members included Al Jolson, Jack Benny and the Rat Pack.

 

In 1961, the Friars moved into the distinctive Santa Monica Boulevard building, known for its windowless facade.

 

“It’s very sad, it was a wonderful place to meet and have dinner with fellow performers,” said comedian Mel Brooks, who was not a member of the Friars Club but attended roughly a dozen events there over the years. “What I loved about it was the bizarre architecture — it just looked like it was in an Ed Wood movie.”

 

Little is known about the current owner of the property, which records indicate is Chartwell Sports LLC., a Beverly Hills official said. But that limited liability company does not appear on the California Secretary of State’s online business database.

 

According to Jonathan Lait, assistant director of community development for the city, the owner has not filed plans to replace the club’s building. Chartwell could not be reached for comment.

 

The Friars Club — but not the property — was purchased in 2004 by businessman Darren Schaeffer, who planned to modernize it. According to a 2004 Los Angeles Business Journal story, Schaeffer signed a 10-year lease for use of the building. Soon after, the New York Friars sued, alleging that under Schaeffer, the club morphed from a nonprofit to a commercial enterprise that was exploiting the Friars name.

 

The New York group won and the club’s name was changed to Club 9900 in 2008, then shuttered soon thereafter. It is unclear if Schaeffer is still involved with the property; he also could not be reached comment.

 

Unlike the city of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills does not have an ordinance that protects historic buildings from being demolished or significantly altered.

 

Lait said that the building had been cataloged by the city as part of a historic resources inventory, but Beverly Hills’ review power over the property extends only to instances in which a new development would replace the building, and not demolition.

 

“The property owners filed for a demolition permit, and there is no discretionary judgment used in issuing the permit,” Lait said. “We certainly did talk with representatives of the property owner when they came in; we said, ‘Hey, it’s on this inventory.’ We asked if they were thinking about (developing) a project, they said, ‘We don’t have anything.’”

 

Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, said the Friars Club building is significant for its Hollywood history and its architectural pedigree. It was designed by Sidney Eisenshtat, the late Los Angeles architect known for the design of several landmark synagogues in the area.

 

“The idea of the Friars Club is very unique itself, and when you put it in the larger landscape, it makes it such a significant loss because it’s such an L.A. institution,” Fine said.

 

While Los Angeles is not without a private club that caters to the Hollywood crowd — an outpost of the well-known SoHo House opened in West Hollywood last year — Brooks said the Friars Club was a different sort of place. “We just don’t have it (anymore),” the 84-year-old director, screenwriter and producer said. “Where am I going to go tonight where I’d be assured of running into Don Rickles?”

(Editing by Zorianna Kit)

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Save the Fairfax Theatre

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jan 9th, 2010
2010
Jan 9

HOLLYWOOD PRESERVATION

Historic Fairfax Theatre could be replaced by apartment complex

 

(Los Angeles Public Library)

 

By Shelby Grad
Los Angeles Times
January 9, 2009

 

The Fairfax district could be losing a major landmark.

 

A developer is proposing replacing the Art Deco-style Fairfax Theatre and the thrift shop next door at Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard with a residential complex.

 

According to Curbed L.A., a developer wants to gut the building and create more than 70 residential units as part of a mixed-use development. The Larchmont Chronicle says the developer would keep the Art Deco facade, but that has not stopped some residents from vowing a fight.

 

Critics note that the Fairfax is one of the last independent theaters in Los Angeles. Such nonchain cinemas have been hit hard by the recession. “The Fairfax is going to be our flagship to try to save neighborhood theaters,” said Brian Curran, a board member of Hollywood Heritage told the Chronicle

 

A group, Friends of the Fairfax Theatre, has created a Facebook page to fight the closure. “The Fairfax now faces a threat to its existence by developers. Being one of the last few remaining neighborhood movie houses left in L.A., let alone the country as a whole, it needs to be preserved. Please join us as we save this Fairfax District institution,” the group says.

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Saving What Remains of the Laemmle Building…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 31st, 2008
2008
Oct 31

Preservationists try to block demolition of Basque nightclub

  

INCARNATIONS: Gregory Paul Williams stands at Hollywood and Vine with a photo of the building he and other preservationists are trying to save. Originally the Coco Tree Cafe, it became Melody Lane, then Hody’s Restaurant.

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1939 renovation eliminated much of the architect’s design, as well as the building’s historical significance, city council finds. The site was damaged in an April fire that remains unsolved.

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By Bob Pool
October 31, 2008

 

Preservationists hoping to save the facade of a Richard Neutra-designed building at Hollywood’s most famous corner have been told they are 70 years too late to stop demolition.

 

Workers are removing the remains of the Basque nightclub, which was gutted about six months ago by a mysterious predawn fire at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

 

The owner of the site ordered the tear-down after deciding that the damaged building was a safety hazard and that a 1939 remodel of the place had erased all evidence of Neutra’s styling.   (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)

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Continue Reading »

Hollywood Landmark Razed…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 29th, 2008
2008
Oct 29

Laemmle Building Demolished!

 

 Demolition of the Laemmle Building last Friday

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger 

 

The historic Laemmle Building on the northwest corner of Hollywood and Vine was demolished last Friday. Preservationists contend that the tearing down of the building, built by Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle in 1932, is federally illegal. The building has been vacant since it was damaged in an unsolved arson fire in April.

 

The intersection of Hollywood and Vine has been famous since the 1930s because many of Hollywood’s important radio stations were located nearby.  “Brought to you from Hollywood and Vine” was a familiar opening to many early radio broadcasts.

 

The Laemmle Building in the 1950s

 

Carl Laemmle, paid the George W. Hoover (builder of the Hollywood Hotel) estate $350,000 for the property in 1925. At the time, that was the highest price paid for real estate in Hollywood (the lot sold for $15,000 in 1912). In 1928 Laemmle refused a $1,000,000 offer for the corner.

 

Originally Laemmle planned to build a 900-seat theater and office building valued at $250,000. At some point in mid 1932 revisions were made to build a one story building with foundation specifications for additional stories to be added later (which never came about). Designed by famed architect, Richard Neutra in the International Style, construction began in September 1932, and was completed early the following year.

 

The Laemmle Building fire last April 30th

 

At the time of the April fire, the building housed the Basque Nightclub and Restaurant, a popular celebrity hangout. Actress Lindsay Lohan celebrated her 21st birthday there and rap star Kanye West partied there earlier in April. Scenes from the movie Ocean’s Eleven were filmed there and the property had recently been sold as part of a renovation renaissance in Hollywood.

 

While many historic buildings have been saved from destruction in Hollywood (and many more have been lost), the sudden demolition of the Laemmle Building questions the commitment of city officials on preservation issues in Los Angeles.

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