Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sic transit

The Garden Court Apartments, at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard, designed by Frank Meline, opened in 1919 as Hollywood's grandest apartment building. It was home to Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Mac Sennett, and Louis B. Mayer, among others.


The building was demolished in the early 1980s (despite being on the National Register of Histioric Places, no. #82004981) and replaced with the voguishly "high tech" Galaxy Theater complex.


According to this 1982 Time magazine story, there was a valiant attempt to save the building from the wrecker's ball, but as the developer interested in demolishing the building put it: "She was a grand lady, but now she's gone. Someone has to pull the plug."

Here's a graphic look at the building's heydey, degeneration, and humiliation:

1924: Home to stars and czars.

1976: Motor Hotel.

1981: Abandoned haven of junkies and squatters.

The replacement: Hollywood Galaxy complex.

7021 Hollywood Boulevard today.

With 72 suites (with, originally, a grand piano in each one), the Garden Court could have been a plum condo building in the very heart of a revitalized Hollywood.

39 comments:

  1. Love this post. It's always so enlightening to see these lost buildings at the end of their lives. It helps explain the arguments used for demolition at the time. There are a few scenes in "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie" that show the apartments-turned-hotel as a flophouse in 1980. Paul Reubens does a Pee-Wee like-bit in this movie as a desk clerk that shows off the lobby.

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4045/4277660162_43b91e3448_o.png
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4070/4277660096_2501bdd32c_o.png
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4044/4276913469_f50921545f_o.png

    Hollywood Heritage salvaged an enormous female decorative figure from the facade of this building and it's on display at their museum opposite the Hollywood Bowl.

    http://www.hollywoodheritage.org/

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    Replies
    1. I was actually the one that salvaged that figure from the demolition of the Hollywood Garden Apts.in reality it is a male figure. I donated it to Hollywood Heritage. The Hollywood Garden Apts should never have been torn down. How magnificent would it have been to have El Capitan, Graumans Chinese theatre and Hollywood Garden apts instead of that horrible meaningless monstrosity that they put in place of it. When are they ever going to learn.

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  2. My first home when I moved to Hollywood (all the way from Brentwood, LOL) as a teenager in 1978 was an apartment at the Garden Court. $200 a month bought me a four room studio (Main Room, Dressing Room, Bath and Kitchen, all with 10 foot cielings) on the 4th floor front, right under the "SALE/LEASE" sign in the 3rd photo.

    I remember watching the Santa Claus Lane Parade from the window one night. By then, as you say, the building had clearly faded and wasn't long for this world. But for a moment in time, I felt like I was living in the guest room of a mansion straight out of the Great Gatsby...even though I worked every day selling china at the Broadway Hollywood that first year...and danced every night at the Paradise Ballroom on Highland or the Odyssey on Beverly!

    Thanks for the expetional scholarship and great trip down Memory Lane! Many people I tell about this place don't believe it ever really existed!

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  3. A good post about a fine apartment building, which housed some of the top movie people. How ironic that on today’s Hollywood Boulevard a restored Garden court would bring in over a $1,000,000 a month in rents!

    CB.
    Liverpool
    England.

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  4. I think it's important to note that the preservation of the Garden Court Apartments went all the way to the Supreme Court to no avail. The destruction of this magnificent Beaux Arts structure galvanized the preservation community in Hollywood to submit a preservation plan to the National Trust for all major buildings from La Brea on the West to Argyle Street on the East as a National Register Historic District, which WAS accepted and designated. The problem is getting owners, developers and city departments to adhere to the Secretary of the Interiors guidelines for historic structures. The designation was accomplished by Hollywood Heritage, Inc., the same preservation organization that saved the hat-shaped Brown Derby, the Lasky DeMille barn, the Pilgrimage Cross and the Wattles Mansion in Hollywood.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks greatly for the thorough background details surrounding these efforts. didn't know the extent to which the efforts followed. i lived on Sycamore in the early 80's, right next to the old Masquer's club - sadly gone too. i remember the Garden Court being shuttered during '83 i think. the Pan Pacific was a shame too. i used to visit and 'pay my respects' during this time as well.

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  5. I ran away from home when I was 17 in 1982 and lived in the Garden Court off and on for a year. We called it Hotel Hell. It was full of runaways and junkies and other scum. A scary place and I see these pictures it brings back a flood of memories. I'm lucky to be alive.

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  6. I loved this place and almost moved there in 1977 but all the hookers hanging off the balconies calling to me was unsettling to a teeneger. I used to revisit even after it was fenced off to tour friends through to see the shameful neglect. I fought to save the bldg. IT was placed on to the Historical Preservation List but mysteriously came off a few years later and was quickly raised humm..... A total loss for Hollywood & its Celebrity History......

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  7. Like Steven Price commented above, I also lived at the Garden Court Hotel in 1978. I had just graduated from film school and it was my first apartment in Hollywood. I got myself a job as a cook at the Hamburger Hamlet across the street from the Chinese Theater until I finally landed a film editing job at Cinema Prints Inc. on Sunset Blvd.
    I can relate to the other comments that mention the hotel's seedy nature it unfortunately inherited during it's final years. During my stay it was certainly on its decline but I do remember a couple of residents who were screen writers and were desperately trying to get their start in the Hollywood mainstream. Like Steven, I also had a studio with the same accommodations but I remember the rent being $250.00. I had a murphy bed that usually stayed in the down position in the main room and typical dreary "neon light buzz" view of the Hollywood skyline. I was on the 3rd floor facing the Chinese Theater. I don't remember Steven but probably would if I saw a picture of him. I do remember the gentleman who manned the front desk (a very long faced dark-hair and mustache throw over from earlier Hollywood glamour days) and the funky wrought iron cage elevator in the main lobby that amazingly still worked. Knowing that the hotel was barely reminiscent of a by-gone era was sad but I have to tell you, when I left college in Ohio and drove all the way out to Hollywood to pursue my dreams, I was always thrilled to be living right there on Hollywood Blvd no matter how sleazy it got.

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  8. I believe it was the summer of 1980 when I decided to enjoy a day wandering Hollywood Blvd. Having grown up in Southern California, I'd often visited Grauman's Chinese Theater and the various other rather seedy sites of the Blvd. - usually with visiting relatives that wanted to see 'Hollywood,' but this day I came by myself just to ramble about and explore unencumbered by lookie loo aunts and uncles. As I left Grauman's and walked west down Hollywood Blvd. I came upon, what I thought to be, an abandoned old apartment house. I was a little hesitant as I approached the front door to look through the window, and I was taken by surprise when I peered in and saw someone sitting behind the front desk. I walked inside and had a conversation with the attendant who told me of the Garden Court's glorious 'better days.' He told me there was a ballroom in the basement that Valentino had once danced in. He was more than happy to allow me to wander about; and as I walked out into the tragic courtyard I could only imagine how grand it must have once been. I remember empty fountains and overgrown foliage, and staring up at the expanse of the building on either side of the courtyard; wishing I'd been able to see it 60 years earlier.

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  9. I remember the is apartment building well...

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