Hi all – I would just like to share a few words with my Los Angeles neighbors – and really anyone with a soft spot for LA mid-century architecture.
There seems to be a rising outpouring of sentimentalism and displeasure over the impending razing of the Chase Bank situated on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset Blvd…to be replaced by one of the dreaded shop/live/work superstructures that are popping up all over town.
I’ll admit, the unique 1960 structure with its distinctive angular roof is pretty easy on the eyes – and I suppose it will be sad to see it go. But without lamenting the building’s passing or celebrating its demise – I would just like to point out that the construction of the bank in 1959-60 displaced another historical Hollywood landmark of great significance – one that everyone seems to have forgotten.
The Garden of Allah, once a private residence built in 1913 and later owned by silent film star Alla Nazimova, was converted into a hotel in the 1920s. Famous residents included F. Scott Fitzgerald. This beautiful example of early-twentieth century Southern California architecture came down in 1959…but not before one last Hollywood bash to send it off. Up went the Lytton Savings and Loan (now Chase Bank), and not incidentally – a hideous eye sore of a strip mall.
So, if we are going to shed sentimental tears as the bank passes over to the other side, then let us likewise raise a glass to the Garden of Allah.
I have been looking closely these days at the personal life and filmography of D. W. Griffith – and I’ve come up with some book-worthy ideas (to be revealed at a later date when I iron a few things out). Today I want to highlight Griffith’s culminating effort of his first California Expedition with Biograph in 1910: The Unchanging Sea starring Mary Pickford. Analysis aside for now, I am taken by the scenery. Griffith shot this entire film – all thirteen or so minutes of it – on location in Santa Monica. A century ago this was not the sprawling beach community it is today. But with a little imagination you can almost see the buildings, the pier, the traffic, the crowds…
Okay maybe not but but I will say this: the hillside and beach haven’t changed much at all. Enjoy the film – inspired by Charles Kingley’s poem: The Three Fishers.
Thanks to the help of a Twitter connection after a inquiry Tweet relating to the papers of the cast of The Birth of a Nation, I am now aware of the whereabouts of the papers of Ms. Lilian Gish: at the New York Public Library. This once again confirms (as if I needed any confirmation) that social media are wonderful tools for researchers. Ask a question, broadcast it to the world, get an immediate answer. I love it.
So my Internet friends, should you know the locations of any other collections pertaining to the cast and crew of this most controversial silent film I would love the tip off.