The bulldozers soon will arrive for a series of buildings in West Hollywood, Calif., that once were used by the Warner Bros. and other movie studios, reported the Los Angeles Times. The buildings sit at the corner of Route 66.
The Times’ arresting lead paragraphs:
Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks worked there. So did Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, Marlon Brando and practically everyone else.
Soon, though, wrecking crews will be at work at the storied West Hollywood movie lot at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue.
Once known as the Warner Hollywood Studio, it’s now called “The Lot.” Its new owner, CIM Group, intends to raze its aging wooden office buildings and sound-dubbing stages and replace them with glass-and-steel structures.
The Pickford Building and the Goldwyn Building, built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, will be razed first. Later, the Writers Building, Fairbanks Building, Editorial Building and a row of production offices will be demolished. A group of buildings up to six stories tall will take their place.
The Times said:
The redevelopment plans have riled many in the entertainment industry, particularly those who know the studio from past film shoots and television programs.
“A lot of people have a lot of affection for the place,” said Doug Haines, a film editor who has worked on movies there for two decades. “You really had a sense of history when you worked there. Another glass building — that certainly says ‘Old Hollywood,’ doesn’t it?” […]
Legend holds that a tunnel once connected the soundstages to a bar across the street — the Formosa Cafe — so that stars like Errol Flynn could slip off for drinks between scenes without being pestered by fans.
Fairbanks had a steam bath and gym and is said to have had a private outdoor area where he could exercise in the nude.
Eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, who kept an office at the studio during his movie-making days, had a secret garage he could wheel into from Santa Monica Boulevard and park without anybody noticing.
The buildings also contain stories or relics involving Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, D.W. Griffith, and many more.
The most aggravating part of the story is that West Hollywood officials have never taken formal action to designate The Lot as a historic landmark, even though locals long described it as one.
Preservationists at the Los Angeles Conservancy said they have been asked to help get historic landmark status conferred on the whole studio to block the demolition.
“We’ve gotten calls from people who are concerned. The problem is it’s an approved development. The West Hollywood City Council essentially has already approved the project,” said Adrian Scott Fine, the conservancy’s director of advocacy.
(Hat tip: Kevin Hansel)