Two treasured WeHo landmarks move closer to protected status

Great Hall / Long Hall (Photo by J. Mark, 2013)

Two of West Hollywood’s oldest and most meaningful buildings got a jolt of hope this week as City Council voted to have them considered for cultural resource status by the Historic Preservation Commission. 

Great Hall/Long Hall, built in 1938 as the Plummer Park Community Clubhouse, represents a pivotal pre-cityhood moment in WeHo’s history when the County of Los Angeles and the Works Progress Administration collaborated on a recreational facility for the first time, and it’s the only edifice in the city constructed via New Deal programs.

According to the LA Conservancy:

“Its Spanish Colonial Revival design, chosen to reflect Plummer Park’s heritage and link to the region’s great Mexican-era ranchos, remains highly intact, featuring a U-shaped plan surrounding a central courtyard, a clay tile roof, and a stucco exterior.  The west section, composing the Great Hall, features an auditorium space, while the south section, composing the Long Hall, originally functioned as a library and game room. The interior retains its original stage, decorative wood trusses, beams, and molding.”

Fiesta Hall, an offspring of the Great Hall/Long Hall that was constructed in the same style in 1949, is notable for being West Hollywood’s official birthplace, the location where residents voted to incorporate the city in 1984.

Jen Dunbar of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance wrote this of the two sites:

“Because the county had direct control over the project as its sponsor, it could decide the style of the building. Edward C.N. Brett, the county’s chief architect, decided it should reflect a prevailing public sentiment for “Old California.” The single story building with its low gabled tile roof, sited in the center of the park amid lush plants and trees, complemented the quaint single and multifamily homes lining the streets around the park.

Modest details such as the exterior shutters, casement windows, an interior rounded corner fireplace, thick decorative scrolled ceiling beams and flagstone- patterned concrete pavers added to the architectural charm.

The craftsmanship, plan and details of the Community Clubhouse reflected the inspiration and simplicity of the colonial missions and adobes built throughout California, characteristics of Spanish Colonial Revival style. Its Spanish Colonial Revival style also distinguished it from the WPA-era Modern style of many buildings found throughout Los Angeles.

The clubhouse’s use as a gathering center married well with the courtyard configuration often employed by buildings of this style. As these building types were often a response to the environment, spaces needing natural light were placed along the east-west axis, while those that did not ran along a north-south axis. Long Hall, intended as a reading room, sat along the east-west axis, while Great Hall, an entertainment space, followed the north-south axis. The low flat ceiling of Long Hall with its thick scrolled beams marching down the length of the room recall the Romanesque style nave, a feature often found in the missions.

Great Hall, with its stage and rustic, open trussed ceiling was a performance space to replace the “Old Rancho Barn Theater.” The courtyard provided a gathering space for barbeques and picnics, with shaded spaces under the surrounding arcade. Long Hall provided a space to house exhibits. Hernando G. Villa, who was known for his illustrations for the 1932 Olympics and for creating the “chief” emblem for the Santa Fe Railroad, as well as paintings of early California scenes, exhibited his work at the Clubhouse in 1939. That same year, the California Bear Flag was presented to park director Florence Lewis Scott and raised over the building as a symbol of “our endeavor to carry forward the charm and spirit of Old California to enrich our present day lives.”

From 1938 to 1984, the park and the clubhouse remained under the supervision of Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation. In 1984, Plummer Park and all of its structures were turned over to the City of West Hollywood with its incorporation. The Clubhouse operated continuously as a gathering space for local organizations and, until recently, also housed the 75-year-old Los Angeles Audubon Society. ACT-UP/LA sees the Community Center as part of its history. This AIDS activist organization held its weekly meetings there for nine years and supports its designation as a historical resource both for its previous and recent historical association.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

18 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jose
Jose
3 months ago

If they can stop spending hundreds of MILLIONS on the Westside and do something with this great park it would be a miracle. Staying stuck in the 1940s today serves who?
The previous development plan that INCORPORATED Fiesta Hall was spectacular!
So sick of a handful of whiny people who live here temporarily then MOVE on.

George
George
4 months ago

Oh how I love this park! Such great memories!

Justin
Justin
4 months ago

The City is laughably generous in describing buildings as noteworthy. The is an old, unremarkable building.

Wrong Direction
Wrong Direction
4 months ago
Reply to  Justin

The City didn’t describe it as such. The State of California Historic Resources Commission voted unanimously to approve the buildings to the National Register of Historic Places. That statement was unfortunately missing from the article but the additional significance was its relationship to the WPA. There are numerous aspects for qualification even though it may not have appealed to you in its humble style. There are several noteworthy buildings that have fallen through the cracks for the principal reason that they were lacking a knowledgeable individual on staff to evaluate, obtain expert opinion in order to reinforce the collection of… Read more »

Edie
Edie
4 months ago

good

Gavin Elster
Gavin Elster
4 months ago

So much WEHO history and important architecture has been lost. Much in the last 20 years. The important art moderne structure on the South side of Santa Monica Bl., near the Beverly Hills border was destroyed by utter neglect. These Plummer Park structures are border-line significant. How much tax payer $$$$ has been tossed-over to a park, that is not really pleasant or safe to visit?

Honorable Foundations
Honorable Foundations
4 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Elster

Again you seem to have incorrect information. The buildings of Plummer Park have been confirmed and accredited at the state and national level. Although you may feel that their humble architectural style is not of high value they were connected with the important WOA period of significance. Easy to get the facts and won’t take you much time to be informed.

The inability of those structures and many others also missed proper evaluation because the city leaders were equally uninformed about the legacy West Hollywood inherited and were not motivated to learn the facts.

Honorable Foundations
Honorable Foundations
4 months ago

WPA era of significance…..

Amnesia🙄
Amnesia🙄
4 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Elster

Have you fallen on your head?🙄 Do you mean the Art Deco Dog & Cat Hospital?

jack and ennis twist
jack and ennis twist
4 months ago

oh the stories from the great long hall…but alas- for another thread

Rose
Rose
4 months ago

What about the $30 MILLION DOLLARS sold for a boondoggle never stared (thankfully) But the bonds went out, paying low risk and SUPER HIGH RETURNS for a municipal bond offering when interest rates were until now, insanily low for how long now?? What’s the problem. The City in essence took out a $30 MILLION DOLLAR LOAN via a a municipal bond offering, the money received when where??? Thankfully not used to destroy Plummer Park But for 30 years the City has already promised (so to speak) to pay interest to an undisclosed “investors” Who gets higher than Pre 2008 CRASH… Read more »

Rugger-Biker
Rugger-Biker
4 months ago

Maybe now the City Council will throw 1% of the obscene $200+M spent on West Hollywood Park for some maintenance on Plummer Park. It’s doesn’t need major renovation. How amazing it would be just restored to its original wonder: clean up the courtyard, repair the windows, fresh paint, fix the plumbing, etc. This park is used every day of the week by a significant amount of people, most of whom live in the immediate area. I do not live that close, but come here as I prefer it to others. It’s time to focus a little more on the East… Read more »

Gavin Elster
Gavin Elster
4 months ago
Reply to  Rugger-Biker

I keep hearing a lot of East West Hollywood residents either can’t, don’t or won’t VOTE. The squeaky political wheel ALWAYS gets the grea$e!

Therese
Therese
4 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Elster

I live in East West Hollywood and I vote. However, it’s nothing but empty promises. They destroyed Tower Records. That is IMHO a significant loss. Overdevelopment runs rampant with nothing short of ludicrous rents. We need an entirely new council.

Honorable Foundations
Honorable Foundations
4 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Elster

You apparently have bad information. Certainly all of the folks that supported Save Plummer Park vote as they consistently showed up at every public meeting and then some for years.

Honorable Foundations
Honorable Foundations
4 months ago

A positive sign after a long unnecessary, self-serving delay signifying West Hollywood’s lack of respect for its own Historic Preservation Ordinance, landmarks, and stated goals. The council members that prevented the rightful disposition of Plummer Park and its landmark structures, however humble, contradicted the goals and evidenced duplicitous behavior shrouded in the soft glove of remarking the landscape through an offensive redevelopment plan. The amount of cost overruns for West Hollywood Park might have adequately served to refresh Plummer Park making it a more vibrant and hospitable venue for at least the past 10 years. Any entity not respecting its… Read more »

Honorable Foundations
Honorable Foundations
4 months ago

LA Audubon Society, a big loss in its absence. A local connection to Climate Reality that would have been a living breathing, functioning asset. These assets are often undervalued by the ignorant which were referenced in the previous comment.

carleton cronin
4 months ago

These valuable structured must be retained. The Great Hall. was once much more used than so today. In past years the LA Audubon Society used space in the clubhouse for its bookstore – and a small nature preserve once occupied space now used by the city. We must retain such places for future generations as well as for current use.

18
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x