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Godzilla Apr 3, 2017 5:09 AM


Originally Posted by tovangar2 (Post 7760166)
An update on Arthur and Nina Zwebell's "Charlie Chaplin" bungalow court, 1328 N Formosa, which has been covered extensively on the thread. LA Curbed reports that the new owners are going to restore the unlisted property, which is good news. It's apparently the oldest extant Zwebell complex (the others are listed here). Other properties nearby are slated for demolition to make way for new development. It was built, so it is reported, to house cast and crew for productions at Chaplin's nearby studio:
google maps

There's been some discussion for years about whether or not this was actually a Chaplin property. LA Curbed is having none of that though. They also quote Wehoville saying that this was one of three complexes Chaplin built. The others are Normandie Towers (a block from The Lot), 7219 Hampton Ave. and The Charlie Hotel (the hotel claims Ruth Gordon's family built it and Chaplin just stayed here), 819 N. Sweetzer Ave (charming pix & histories of each complex here).

Whoever put them up, I'm glad they're still with us.

These properties are certainly unique, aside from any celebrity nexus. As you highlight, some of what is reported in connection with these properties may be unsubstantiated wishful thinking. Not that most of it could not be true, but like so many things that go undocumented, truth has a way of being blurred by myth.

In another post I mentioned recalling conversations with residents of the area who claimed all sorts of fascinating but difficult-to-corroborate tales about the neighborhood - especially during Prohibition and throughout the Depression and WWII. These included various film personalities who allegedly stayed not only in the Normandie Towers but in surrounding structures, that were allegedly all built by Chaplin - or at his direction - to house day players and confine them, their talent and their vices, during production or pending production. Since The Pickford-Fairbanks Studio was within walking distance, in addition to the Chaplin "Tudor Style" LaBrea Studio, without documentation, any of the structures could have been constructed by either Studio or in collaboration with either Studio or by individuals attempting to capitalize on the apparent need for local housing.

The Normandie Towers, which has a "wishing" well in its courtyard, is currently listed at 7219 W. Hampton Ave. However, the 1925 and 1926 CD lists it at 1230 N. Poinsettia. I've had zed luck in tracking down a building permit for either address. The 1987 W.Hollywood Historic Resources Survey Form lists the property at Hampton Ave and 1234-1242 Poinsettia Place. Without explanation, the Form mentions that the "apparent" owner was Blanche McKnee, "though it is commonly thought to have been constructed by Charlie Chaplin." "Commonly thought" by whom and when, is a mystery. The Bibliography suggests some of this information was culled from contemporaneous tax records although the value of building permits and a business directory starting from 1933 and 1932, respectively, for 1924 or 1925 events, is . . . unclear.

According to T2's article, a who's who of Hollywood celebs allegedly stayed at this Harper/Poinsettia locale, including many famous names who presumably had available chauffeur driven transportation to whisk them to the comfort of their own, more luxurious and servant-staffed homes, just a few miles away. Although the allegations are certainly possible, listing names, by themselves, does not establish that these individuals stayed or visited, or even cast eyes on the location; anymore than my hoping George Washington and Cleopatra both reclined on my uncertain vintage hammock currently slung between two palms in Hawaii. :shrug::shrug::shrug:[/QUOTE]

Cursory review of CD listings for 819 N Sweetzer (and adjoining numbers) does not reveal as much of the property's history as one might hope. Having not seen the property since well before its rehab, I vaguely recall it as having a series of narrow garages, visible from the street, that ran perpendicular to Sweetzer. For reasons unknown, some local long-time residents called this "The Chaplin Stables." (Perhaps horses or other livestock were on the property after it was constructed and occupied in the mid '20s, or the name could have been due to the condition of the property.) Google Street view has a 2007 image with a sign for the Charlie Village, but I can't recall the exact layout of the structures fronting Sweetzer and wonder how much is relatively new construction versus the original mid-'20s configuration.

Unrelated, except for the Sweetzer connection. Several blocks north of 819.

Sunset and Sweetzer, 1950

Godzilla Apr 3, 2017 5:24 AM


Originally Posted by tovangar2 (Post 7760334)
But what about the end of the glue-lam beam? Seems like a bad idea to leave it exposed.

You make a good point, even if you believe Albert Hammond, that it never rains in So Cal.

The photographs strongly suggest wood that has been bent and laminated - and exposed end grain. Maybe not all of the exterior is natural wood? Or, is it possible that some of the wood is essentially a veneer and non-structural? :shrug: Not saying that is the case. Only introducing the possibility that some exposed areas are non-structural.

Unavoidable comparison with another NLA subject, The Rancho Mirage Chart house.

tovangar2 Apr 3, 2017 5:43 AM


Glued, laminated timber has a wiki page


Re Sweetzer & Sunset

There's still a billboard:

Martin Pal Apr 3, 2017 4:36 PM


The vintage photo makes it look like there is no Sweetzer Ave. south of Sunset.

Pescara Apr 3, 2017 4:41 PM

Not sure if it has come up before (at least a search couldn't find it), but there is a great program on youtube called Hollywood & the Stars, it is narrated by Joseph Cotton and in this episode at the 14:20 mark shows just a glimpse of Monkey Island.,
James Mason also Narrated a similar themed early Hollywood series which can also be found on youtube.....but now I'm transgressing

HossC Apr 3, 2017 5:47 PM


Welcome to NLA, Pescara. I haven't watched all of the video yet, but it looks very interesting. Here are a couple of screengrabs from the brief Monkey Island section.

Both from the YouTube video below.

Video Link

Martin Pal Apr 3, 2017 6:25 PM


Originally Posted by Pescara (Post 7760776)
Not sure if it has come up before (at least a search couldn't find it), but there is a great program on youtube called Hollywood & the Stars, it is narrated by Joseph Cotton and in this episode at the 14:20 mark shows just a glimpse of Monkey Island.,
James Mason also Narrated a similar themed early Hollywood series which can also be found on youtube.....but now I'm transgressing

Pescara! That ten or so seconds of Monkey Island has things we've never seen before! I was on that immediately, lol, thanks so much for your first post here!

For some reason, and it may be because of the rendering we've seen of Monkey Island before, I thought it was set back/off from the road and this video shows it was up close to Caheunga. The marquee is also a lot larger than I'd anticipated, which makes me wish I could see that huge neon sign in color. (It was said to be the largest neon sign in the world at the time, if I am remembering correctly.)

I am not familiar with the Hollywood & the Stars series; thanks for bringing it to my/our attention! I will watch this whole episode when I have a chance. (I don't know if you've been following NLA, but I just linked an episode of the Hollywood! series narrated by James Mason, recently.)

Also, HossC, thank you for the screengrab photos!


That program has a lot of impressive names attached to it -- David L. Wolper, Jack Haley, Jr. and Elmer Bernstein.
In the end credits it has some thanks, one of them to Columbia Pictures Corporation. I wonder if the Monkey Island
footage, for one, came from this short I found out about at one time, but have never been able to view:


Originally Posted by Martin Pal (Post 7454854)
I stumbled upon this, but I wonder where one could find it to view:
Columbia Pictures Screen Snapshots Series 19, No 6: Hollywood Recreations
Documentary Short | Released March 29, 1940 (USA)
Description: Hollywood stars are glimpsed at a Hollywood Stars baseball team game,
on the golf course, at a swimming exhibition, at Monkey Island and an amusement park.

HossC Apr 3, 2017 7:00 PM

Can we have too much of a good thing? Here's another John Lautner designed house in Malibu. It's Julius Shulman's "Job 4584: Stevens House (Malibu, Calif.), 1969". I've gone with the color images again, but Getty has the ones of this elevation flipped, so I've mirrored the first photo.

The open-air pool in the foreground is on the right of the picture above.

This is the room beyond the glass ...

... and the ocean view.

The stairs are located where the front part joins the rear part. Note the intricate woodwork which protects users of the walkway on the left.

I think this is the upper floor just back from the center of the house.

I'll finish with the kitchen, which looks more cluttered than most of the designer houses we've seen.

All from Getty Research Institute

The house can be found at 23524 Malibu Colony Drive. Here's the text from an article at, which shows that all designer houses aren't respected by their owners:
You know a house is a modernist wonder if it's been owned by film producer/serial-modern-house-collector Michael LaFetra, and this one has always seemed to be one of his faves: it's the Stevens Residence in the gated Malibu Colony, built in 1968 and designed by genius John Lautner (his first design in Malibu). In a LaFetra profile in 2007, shortly after he bought the house, the New York Times said it "looks like an avant-garde boat that's been hauled onto the beach." The original owners sold the house in 2004 to filmmaker (not wrestler) Steven Austin for $7.6 million; LaFetra hadn't been able to get the money together at the time, but kept an eye on the house. When his broker set up a tour for him a few years later, he was horrified to find everything had been shabby-chiced--the new owners "had painted the poured concrete white and removed the Lautner-designed furniture; the cast-in-place concrete light fixture in the dining room had been replaced with a French chandelier lit with fake flame bulbs." So he made an offer and ended up buying the Stevens in 2007 for $13.8 million.

LaFetra restored the house to its original fantasticness and made a few careful upgrades, as described on his website: "The restoration included carefully selecting and replacing all cedar planking, restoring concrete that had been painted, bringing back the originally designed but never fully implemented lofts for each of the kids rooms, recreating the original tile, as well as enhancing the house's sustainability by utilizing cork flooring and converting the house to solar energy." The house also has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, enormous glass and douglas fir sliding doors, a deck, a yard, a pool, and 37 feet of beach frontage.
All the houses in this area now seem to have platforms and steps on the ocean side. Where there was once just sand, there is now a small garden.
Google Maps

Martin Pal Apr 3, 2017 7:50 PM

I love the ocean wave in the one photo that gives it depth!

Martin Pal Apr 3, 2017 7:51 PM

Does everyone remember this post [edited it a bit] E_R first presented to NLA about three months ago on January 5, and the discussion
that followed trying to figure out where the photo was actually taken?


Originally Posted by ethereal_reality (Post 7668482)
'mystery' location / mislabeled photograph?

The recent discussion on sailors made me think of this noirish photograph I happen upon a couple months ago.

It's attributed to the famous street photographer Garry Wynogrand [1950].

But the majority of websites place the location as New York.

Am I way off on this one....

or do you think there's a possibility this is Los Angeles? (it sure feels noirishly L.A. to me)

If it is Los Angeles, I'm still trying to figure out what bridge/viaduct the sailor is walking across.


The discussion by many NLA regulars, with lots of detailed corroborating evidence, finally determined where this photo was taken:


Originally Posted by GaylordWilshire (Post 7669914)
Someone used the phrase "OCD" here today, and I caught it. Anyway, here's the deal. I've decided that our sailor boy was photographed at the southwest corner of the freeway and Hill Street, not on the overpass itself. I've counted the number of lampposts from the north end of the east-side railing (and that about 14 railing verticals appear between each lamp in the sailor pic and in current views)... the freeway is streaming southeasterly/northwesterly below and behind our boy, with the Brunswig Building north of it.

Since that discussion, I have been in contact with folks from the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, as well as those from SFMOMA, including the archivist and the Assistant Curator of Photography, presenting the evidence for the location of this photo gathered by the NLA sleuths in hopes of having this photo officially labeled properly!

I received an email [edited a bit] this week:


Hi Martin,

Thanks for being in touch.

Here’s the short version: You are absolutely right. My colleague Erin O’Toole was in touch with Leo Rubinfien, who has access to all of Winogrand’s contact sheets. As I’m sure you know, Erin and Leo collaborated on the Winogrand show. Based on further research with Winogrand's contact sheets, Leo confirmed that it is indeed Los Angeles.

Really superlative research by the folks on the Noirish L.A. forum, by the way. Thanks for putting in the work and bringing it to our attention. We are in the process of adjusting all of our databases to reflect this new info.

All the best,

Adam Ryan
Assistant Curator of Photography
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art




Martin Pal Apr 3, 2017 7:52 PM


Sailor, Hill Street, Los Angeles, 1950.

CityBoyDoug Apr 3, 2017 8:32 PM


Originally Posted by HossC (Post 7760977)
Can we have too much of a good thing? Here's another John Lautner designed house in Malibu. It's Julius Shulman's "Job 4584: Stevens House (Malibu, Calif.), 1969"..
Google Maps

John Lautner was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s. He's seen sitting behind Mr. Wright wearing a light colored vest
old file CD

Flyingwedge Apr 3, 2017 9:04 PM

Los Angeles Civic Center, c. 1940-41
The Huntington Digital Library dates this photo 1948, but that can't be right. At the right margin we see a bit of the Baker Block,
which was demolished in 1942. Also, the U.S. Hotel, which had been on the SE corner of N. Main and E. Market (opposite the NE
corner of City Hall) until it was torn down in 1939, has been replaced by a new building:

487987 at HDL

tovangar2 Apr 3, 2017 11:04 PM

Malibu Colony Beach

Originally Posted by HossC (Post 7760977)

All the houses in this area now seem to have platforms and steps on the ocean side. Where there was once just sand, there is now a small garden.
Google Maps

The two photos above certainly highlight the problem of beach erosion around these parts. Colony residents could use to step directly out onto the sand from their doorways.
The Colony's famous, wide beach has now all but disappeared.

Homeowners have had to have a seawall installed, which underpins their houses. One would have to be relatively nimble to negotiate
the ladders down to the water now.

Another shot of the current configuration. The Stevens House is 3rd in from the left. Stiles O. Clements' Adamson House is just out of shot at the upper, right corner,
on the other side of Malibu Lagoon:

High tide at the Stevens House is fairly dramatic. I hope those garden chairs are tied down:
images above,yournewswire

ethereal_reality Apr 4, 2017 2:45 AM

Martin Pal, such excellent news about the Sailor/Winogrand photograph!

Thanks for letting us know.

Is anyone familiar with 'World Wide Pictures'?

I thought I had seen all the old-timey picture logos but I don't remember this one!

It's from the beginning of a film called TOMBSTONE CANYON (1932)

Her globes actually spin. Check them out.

Video Link


ethereal_reality Apr 4, 2017 3:18 AM

'mystery' location

"Industrial Los Angeles" [c.1985]
from an old file of mine dated 2008 /


ethereal_reality Apr 4, 2017 3:26 AM

Thanks for locating the old J. Herbert Hall apartment building tovangar2!

Originally Posted by tovangar2 (Post 7760280)

That looks like a single family wonder I was confused.


ethereal_reality Apr 4, 2017 3:51 AM

Motorcyclists on Sunset Blvd., 1966 / note Dino's Lodge in the background.

Vroom! Vroom!

reverse / Plain Dealer Library

Los Angeles Free Press, 1966

:previous: so what was Proposition 16? (why a Nazi and a Pilgrim?)


tovangar2 Apr 4, 2017 5:21 AM


Prop 16: "Prohibition on obscene materials and obscene conduct" Defeated
blah, blah, blah....

See pages 36-38 here for full proposition wording

ScottyB Apr 4, 2017 6:51 AM


Originally Posted by ethereal_reality (Post 7761674)

Los Angeles Free Press, 1966

:previous: so what was Proposition 16? (why a Nazi and a Pilgrim?)


Puritanism in hand with oppression I'd that Margaret Thatcher with the scissors?

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