Los Angeles has undergone many landmark successes
and devastating failures
in preserving its architectural history. With rapid development underway, the city’s complex relationship with history continues, as these ten culturally significant sites are threatened with demolition.
Studio One at The Factory
West Hollywood’s The Factory was built in 1929 for a Mitchell Camera Company. However, its time spent as Studio One, the discotheque of the mid-1970s, is the defining incarnation that made this building a point of cultural significance for LA. Once a beacon in Los Angeles’s club scene, Studio One is now remembered as a place where the oppressed gay community could feel safe. Cut to now: the site is threatened by a hotel project. After being listed on the National Trusts’ Endangered Places list, a proposal from the LA Conservancy was published which recommends that the city mandates a creative alternative in order to preserve this important piece of LGBTQ history.
Factory, 652 N La Peer Dr, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
The Parker Center
The Parker Center
Originally called the Police Facilities Building, the Parker Center in Downtown’s Little Tokyo district was built in 1955 and rose to fame quickly as one of the most innovative police buildings of its time. During the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese-Americans living in Little Tokyo were sent to internment camps. Their vacated homes were then occupied largely by the African-American community. The location of this massive police station is rumored to be in response to the growing number of minorities that moved into the neighborhood. The building’s complicated history, along with the equally complicated history of the LAPD among Angelenos, has created a bit of controversy regarding its preservation (which you can hear about in the LA Conservancy’s panel discussion). In this YouTube video, you can even see the Parker Center in the background of the LA Riots.
Although the building is fit to use, it is now empty and may soon be demolished. Used as a set for movies like Inherent Vice and TV shows such as Dragnet, the Parker Center’s architecture, designed by master architect Welton Becket, evokes the bright, unadorned modernist design typical of the era in Southern California.
Parker Center Charging Station, 150 N Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility Campus
Known as the oldest juvenile facility in the state of California, Whittier’s Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility Campus was open for 113 years before being shut down. The attempt to preserve the campus is complex, with the Whittier Conservancy finally filing a lawsuit to stop the sale of the property. The campus can be seen in films like Blow and Bad Teacher. The campus is also rumored to be haunted and was even featured on a ghost-hunting show. In light of a recent investigation into the horrible conditions of another LA Juvenile Detention facility, there might be an opportunity to rehabilitate this historic campus.
Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility Campus, 11850 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA, USA
Jones Dog & Cat Hospital
Wurdeman & Becket, an early incarnation of Welton Becket and Associates (the same architectural group that designed the Parker Center and the famous Capitol Records building in Hollywood), designed West Hollywood’s famous Jones Dog & Cat Hospital. Veterinarian to the stars, the building’s original owner, Dr. Eugene C. Jones, commissioned the design, which still stands as one of the last remaining examples of Streamline Moderne architecture in LA. One of the first veterinary hospitals in Southern California, the building is currently empty, threatened by the Melrose Triangle Project.
Jones Dog & Cat Hospital, 9080 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA, USA
Paul Weston Work Center
In 1979, John Lautner, a nationally recognized architect and early apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, designed the Paul Weston Work Center in a notable Expressionist style. With the owner’s plans already submitted to demolish the structure, it’s unlikely that an adaptive reuse project will save this architectural masterpiece from being destroyed.
(Former site of) Paul Weston Work Center, 6530 N Winnetka Ave, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Barlow Respiratory Hospital
Barlow Respiratory Hospital
Elysian Park’s 25-acre Barlow Respiratory Hospital campus was established in 1902. With buildings in varying architectural styles, including significant examples of American Craftsman and Spanish Revival design, the campus has been designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument and has the potential to be listed on the National Register as a historic district. Despite this, the campus has been threatened by demolition for years because of state regulations on earthquake safety for places functioning as hospitals.
Barlow Respiratory Hospital, 1300 Scott Ave, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Now a Chase Bank, the Lytton Savings building was constructed in 1960 and remains one of the most pointed examples of the funky modernist architecture that dominated Los Angeles in the era. Threatened by demolition for a developer working with a design by architect Frank Gehry, the beloved site is important to many in the community. If the developers and Gehry decided to work with the LA Conservancy on this project, the new building could feature a mix of new and old, which would be an effective way to balance the area’s need for housing with the respect for LA’s architectural heritage.
Chase Bank, 8150 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Like Studio One, the Circus Disco located in Hollywood is a critical piece of LA’s LGBTQ history. While other gay clubs in LA tended to turn down minorities or members of other disenfranchised communities, Circus Disco was known for being inclusive and was therefore an important part of the Latino LGBTQ culture in LA. Late last year, developers agreed to save parts of Circus Disco, but demolition of the majority of this historic landmark is currently underway.
Circus Disco, 6655 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Earl Carroll Theater
Building, Church, Theater
Earl Carroll Theater
Constructed in 1938, Hollywood’s Earl Carroll Theatre has seen its share of glitz, glamour, and Golden Age history. The theater was designed in an early Moderne style by Gordon B. Kaufmann, who also designed other beloved LA area landmarks like the Santa Anita racetrack and the Westwood United Methodist Church. Once an Old Hollywood hangout, the building now functions as a studio for the popular kids’ TV channel Nickelodeon. Although the building itself is not under a direct threat of being demolished, developers have introduced a plan to build almost 5,000 square feet of commercial space around the structure.
Nickelodeon on Sunset, 6230 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Built in the 1930s, Murphy’s Ranch was designed as a headquarters for Nazi activity in Los Angeles. After the events of Pearl Harbor, police raided the Rustic Canyon bunker, which was equipped with a water tank and bomb shelter. While the ranch has been abandoned for the more than two decades, it remains a popular attraction for hiking Angelenos. After an announcement that the ranch will be demolished any day now, the public outcry to save the bunker has become a campaign directly contacting government workers.
Murphy’s Ranch, Sullivan Fire Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA, USA
For more information on preserving LA’s architectural history, visit the LA Conservancy website at www.laconservancy.org.
By Kate Santos