To identify, protect and preserve the historic, architectural, and cultural resources of West Hollywood

Tag: Robertson Lane

Historic Factory/Studio One Building Up for Hearing on March 1

The West Hollywood Planning Commission is holding an important preservation-related hearing which you’re encouraged to attend:

WHAT: Public Hearing on Robertson Lane Project, Including The Factory/Studio One Restoration

WHEN: Thursday, March 1, 2018 @ 06:30 PM

WHERE: West Hollywood Park Public Meeting Room – Council Chambers
625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, California

The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance will be presenting supportive testimony. Here is the Alliance’s statement:

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WHPA Statement on the Streetcar Building and Robertson Lane Projects

Rendering of Robertson Lane

Below is the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) statement regarding Item 8.A. 9091 Santa Monica Blvd., and Item 8.B. 645 N. Robertson Blvd. that are on the agenda for the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) meeting of Monday, January 22, 2018. The meeting begins at 7:00pm in the Plummer Park Community Center, Rooms 5 and 6, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood.

1. The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA), a nonprofit community organization dedicated to historic preservation, urges the Historic Preservation Commission to designate the building located at 9091 Santa Monica Boulevard as a local cultural historic resource. A bit of history: the first iterations of the city’s commercial survey in 2016 did NOT include this building as being potentially historic, but through community engagement, the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance campaigned for its final inclusion as did then Mayor Lauren Meister.

We are now pleased to see that a formal application for designation has been brought by the owners of the building. Dating from 1924, the two-story, brick building is strongly associated with the period in West Hollywood’s history that accompanied the Pacific Electric Railway’s expansion in the 1920s.

According to West Hollywood native and former WHPA Board Member Lyndia Lowy, this building once housed a Maxwell’s Clothing Store and many other businesses through the years, and it is one of the few made of bricks stlll left on the city’s west side. For nearly 90 years, this streetcar-related building has served as highly visible anchor at the western gateway into the city. The WHPA believes that it sustains sufficient integrity to be designated as a cultural resource, and plans for its adaptive reuse appear to be well-thought out.

The development of the large Melrose Triangle project across the boulevard will unfortunately result in the demolition of the historic 1938 Streamline Moderne building that once housed the Jones Dog and Cat Hospital at 9080 Santa Monica Boulevard. The cultural memory of our city deserves respect, and the designation as a cultural resource and the rehabilitation of the building at 9091 Santa Monica Boulevard would show that respect.

Imagine as you enter our city from the west: the new Melrose Triangle on the south side of the western gateway, and the historic streetcar building anchoring the north side. By the way, that north side also includes some other potential sites for historic designation – the buildings housing The Troubadour nightclub and Dan Tana’s Restaurant. But those can come at another time. Let’s now have your recommendation for designating 9091 Santa Monica Boulevard to forward on to the City Council.

2. The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance concurs with city staff requesting the Historic Preservation Commission recommend City Council certify the Final Environmental Impact Report and approve the Certificate of Appropriateness associated Alternative 3 of the Robertson Lane Hotel Project. Faring, architects and preservationists have worked in concert to preserve and restore and adaptively reuse the Truscon steel modular building known as The Factory as a centerpiece of the Robertson Lane hotel and retail project.

This final version of the EIR now offers an even better aspect of proposed siting of The Factory with a clearer separation of the new architecture adjacent to this landmark building, so important to the history of West Hollywood industry as well as a symbol of the burgeoning recognition of gay culture.

Faring proposes to honor the history of the building by addressing controversial aspects of gay life in its documentation of all historic elements, including discrimination against men of color by the gay community via discriminatory entry policies, especially in the 70’s and 80’s. Events in history are not always admirable, but deserve recognition.

The preservation community would of course like to see the asset remain its current size, restored in situ by some magnanimous benefactor, but that option is unlikely to ever lead to a full restoration, and some elements of the steel and truss building have significant decay. This iteration is the best chance to preserve this significant, iconic structure. WHPA thanks Faring for its cooperation and forward thinking on the Robertson Lane tract.

The First West Coast LGBT Site To Be Listed on the National Register Of Historic Places Will Be Decided On July 29, 2016

Letters of support are needed now!

From West Hollywood Heritage:

The Factory building, known for its importance in filmmaking history and LGBT history, was nominated by local residents Kate Eggert and Krisy K Gosney of the West Hollywood Heritage Project (WHHP).

“Letters of support help show the community interest in the nomination,” said Kate Eggert, “so we’re asking people to send an email to the California Office of Historic Preservation expressing support for The Factory building’s nomination for its Hollywood history and/or it becoming the first West Coast LGBT site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

So please send an email to let the Office of Historic Preservation know you support The Factory’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places for Mitchell Camera Corp and/or Studio One/Backlot.


Send your email by July 22 to:

Subject line: The Factory nomination

Click HERE [PDF] to read The Factory building’s nomination.

The Factory was designed and built for Mitchell Camera Corporation in 1929 by the design-build firm Truscon Steel Company. Mitchell Camera Corporation made the camera that became known as “the camera that shot Hollywood” at The Factory. By 1946, 85% of all motion pictures shown in theaters worldwide were filmed with Mitchell cameras that were made at the Mitchell Camera Corporation factory building.

“At The Factory, Mitchell Camera designed and made cameras that revolutionized filmmaking and gave rise to a new film artist – the cinematographer,” said Kate Eggert, “Orson Wells’ cinematographer Gregg Toland consulted at The Factory on the camera that he would use to shoot Citizen Kane.”

In 1974, optometrist Scott Forbes opened Studio One at The Factory. The disco filled a vital community need: it celebrated sexual freedom for gay men. Most gay bars at the time were in small, unremarkable buildings. At Studio One, over a thousand people packed the dance floor every night and the line to get in trailed down Santa Monica Boulevard for blocks.

Studio One’s Backlot Theatre hosted performers like Chita Rivera, Roslyn Kind, Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller and Wayland Flowers. The disco and theatre set mainstream trends and created stars while strictly adhering to Forbes’ vision – “Studio One was planned, designed and conceived for… gay male people. Any straight people here are guests of the gay community!”

In 1984, the first major AIDS fundraiser happened at Studio One for AIDS Project Los Angeles; despite having been a celebrity hang-out for a decade, no celebrity would participate in the fundraiser except for Joan Rivers. Rivers said she received death threats.

“Joan Rivers was, up until that point, the only person who ever did anything to raise money to help fight AIDS or help people with AIDS. There were no drugs, the only thing you could do is help them, comfort them during dying. It was all they could do…raise money for hospice,” said Lloyd Coleman, CEO of Rocket Entertainment, the company that produced the shows at the Backlot Theatre.

“We’re so excited that the nomination hearing is coming soon. It’s a very big deal!” said Krisy K Gosney, “We feel honored to hopefully bring the prestige of the first West Coast LGBT National Register listing to West Hollywood, and to honor this place that was pivotal to film history and to gay rights and the gay community.”

West Hollywood Heritage Project (WHHP) was founded in 2015. WHHP’s mission is to promote, honor and preserve West Hollywood history and its built environment through activism, advocacy, research, social media, education and entertainment. WHHP is newly-formed, however, founding partners Kate Eggert and Krisy K Gosney (under the name Dead History Project) have been doing historic preservation since 2012.

WHHP also manages the facebook pages Save the Factory West Hollywood, and Save the SMB Streamline Moderne.

Visit WHHP online at West Hollywood Heritage Project.

Board Members Tour of Factory Building

WHPA Board members Roy Oldenkamp and Jon Ponder toured the Factory site at 611 N. Robertson, with developers Jason Illoulian and Darren Embry of Faring Capital and architect Katie Horak of ARG, as well as former founding WHPA board president Jennifer Dunbar from ARG, Architectural Resources Group.

Developers previewed their plans for the Factory building, which was built in 1929 by the Mitchell Camera Company. Later in the 20th century the building housed a number of nationally and internationally known nightclubs, including one of the first planned clubs catering to the gay community.

After reviewing preliminary plans for the site, the board members encouraged the developers to keep the board informed as plans for the site evolved.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report on the site is in the works and will likely be released in the spring.