WeHo’s Formosa Café Is a Winner in National Preservation Grant Contest

West Hollywood ‘s Formosa Café, one of 11 winners among 25 contestants in a national historic preservation content.

West Hollywood’s Formosa Café is one of 11 sites to win a grant in the national Partners in Preservation: Main Street contest.

The $150,000 grant will go to the Los Angeles Conservancy, which will use the money to rehabilitate the restaurant, which is at 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard at Formosa Avenue

The restaurant, which closed in January, was originally established in 1925 by a former prize fighter who renovated a retired Pacific Electric Red Car trolley for use as a luncheon counter. The business was later expanded in 1945. The restoration will focus on the long-neglected 1902-06 trolley portion that still functions as the centerpiece of the cafe. With a long association with early Hollywood and organized crime, the walls were lined with over 250 photos of stars who dined here.

The Formosa has gone through several changes in ownership, and in July 2015 its classic interior went through a complete transformation. All of the 8 x 10 glossies were taken down, the red interior was painted a battleship gray and a rooftop garden bar was added. The 1933 Group has signed a long-term lease with Clarion Partners, owner of the Gateway shopping center property on which the Formosa is located, and intends to return it to a semblance of its original style.

The Formosa project was one of 25 on a national ballot for grant funding  by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with Main Street America. The winners were chosen by popular vote in a campaign heavily promoted by the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance and the L.A. Conservancy. More than 920,000 votes were cast as part of the national campaign, which celebrated historic commercial corridors across the U.S. such as historic Route 66, now known in WeHo as Santa Monica Boulevard.

Other winners are:

— Parker Hall and the John Trower Building in Philadelphia, Penn.
— Vintage Neon Sign Park in Casa Grande, Ariz.
— The Lyric Theater in West Des Moines, Iowa
— The Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, N.C.
— E. Romero Hose and Fire Building in Las Vegas, N.M.
— The Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, Ala.
— The Woodward Theater in Cincinnati, Ohio
— Ivers Square in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
— McKinney Performing Arts Center in McKinney, Tex.
— Utah Pickle Company and Hide Buildings in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Established in 2006 by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership created to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and their role in sustaining local communities. This year’s campaign emphasized “main street” communities around the U.S. and their positive local impact.

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Virginia Gillick
Virginia Gillick
6 years ago

What a success. Thanks to all who were working on this.

6 years ago

Great news for posterity.

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