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MartinTurnbull Feb 7, 2015 9:02 PM

A hotel in Hollywood during the 1940s(?)
I know this is probably a long shot but I told the guy I'd give it a go.

I was approached by someone this week trying to determine where this photo of him was taken. It was a hotel in Hollywood. He said that he remembered walking with this mom to the Chinese Theater, for Sat cowboy movies, and that they passed Gene Autry's office.

But I did do a search in the LA CDs and in 1942 came up with an address for something called “Artists Agency” at 6371 Selma. It's listed as an employment agency and lists three names: Gene Autry, John Marvin, David Gordon.

That address on Selma Ave is six blocks or so east of Grauman’s Chinese, so it’s possible that’s the office they passed, which indicates that the hotel shown in his photo was farther east than that seeing as how they passed Autry’s office on the way to Grauman’s.

So I'm posting this photo in case someone recognizes the octagonal fountain out the front.


Martin Pal Feb 7, 2015 9:47 PM

Witch's House aka Spadena House
Witch's House aka Spadena House

E_R did a series of three posts about this house in 2012, including a history of it. (The house was originally
located in Culver City, built for the Willat Movie Studio.)

The newly posted (on NLA) photo above shows Ward Lascelle, a producer who worked with Willat, standing outside
of the Witch's House shortly after it was moved to Beverly Hills. He bought the structure because it was going to be

E_R's posts:

Gaylord Wilshire added some different GSV views of the property and a historic photo:

And 3940dxer drove by and took a few personal photos:

I also seem to recall a post by someone who had constructed a model of it.
UPDATE: I found the post of the "model" that whizbang built of this house. The first link has a color vintage postcard of the house and the second link is a photo of his model.

None of these posts has any INTERIORS of the house. I just found an article from last November in the
Los Angeles Magazine: Exclusive: Sneak a Peak inside the Witch's House of Beverly Hills

The current owner, Michael J. Libow, is interviewed. Some historic photos and information are presented; for example:
The reason many refer to it as the "Spadena House" is that Ward Lascelle’s wife, Lillian, "divorced" Ward, kept the
house, and then married the house boy/guest/man servant, whose last name was Spadena. Lillian took over the house’s

Here's a photo of the house under construction at the Willat Studios in Culver City:

An interior image from 1933:

Here are a few current interior shots from the article:

And outside:

This is last Halloween night, Friday, October 31, 2014. (The article includes a short video
of that night, around 35 seconds, where 4,000 trick-or-treaters were expected.

Many more photos are in the article: HERE!

3940dxer Feb 8, 2015 1:54 AM

The L.A. County Poor Farm in Downey
Last fall, an adventurous bicycling group introduced me to the L.A. County Poor Farm. Also known as Sunny Acres, The Downey Insane Asylum, Hollydale Mental Hospital, and Rancho Los Amigos, the place has been mentioned on NLA a few times along with some photos. But the brief descriptions didn't really do justice to this huge, amazing facility. Incredibly, construction started in 1887, and many of the early structures still stand.

Lorendoc and I visited recently, under the near-constant eye of various security vehicles and guards. Without being there, it's hard to grasp just how big this place is, and how it seems to go on and on. It contains layers of history, is spread out, decrepit, quiet. Many of the buildings are fenced off and hard to see clearly. Dozens (hundreds?) of feral cats roam the fenced areas and seem well nourished, despite signs that state "DO NOT FEED THE CATS". Many of the buildings stand behind fences and locked gates, but others are more accessible and some even have open doors. It was obviously a very busy place, for a very long time.

Lots of articles about the Poor Farm can be found online, but many are confusing and don't portray the history of the place or its vast scale very clearly. But this 2013 L.A. Times article gives a quick overview:

The Poor Farm got its start in 1887 when the county purchased 124.4 acres and hired the team of architects who had designed the Pico House in the Olvera Street area, St. Vibiana Cathedral and USC's Widney Hall. They came up with a U-shaped design with a central courtyard separating female living areas on the north, male quarters on the south and a dining building at one end. The farm's first residents arrived by horse-drawn wagon in December 1888. During the 1890s, the population grew from 125 to about 200 indigents, most over age 60. The farm quickly expanded to 227 acres. In its day, the county Poor Farm was an anomaly. A 1902 story in The Times described the place as "wrapped in sunbeams and wreathed with flower gardens." "The Los Angeles County Poor Farm visibly resents the incongruity of it name," the story said. "The delightful innovation of housing the homeless and unfortunate in such environments belongs exclusively to Southern California, for no other part of America bears record of having done likewise."

The Times' account explained that the farm operated with an eye toward being self-sustaining, not profit-oriented. "There is no intention of going into extensive agriculture for financial profit because such an arrangement would bring pauper labor into competition with the farmers," it stated Still, the farm raised $10,061 in 1901 from the sale of oranges, livestock and dairy products, the report said. Operating costs that year totaled $32,914 -- or about 341/2 cents per day for each of the farm's residents. The story described male residents' living quarters as "immense," with as many as 30 beds along the walls. Three men's wards opened to a central courtyard, and each resident was provided with bedding, a chair and a small bed stand. There was a large reading room filled with several hundred books "for those who can read," the story reported. Another building housed female residents. By 1910, the Poor Farm covered nearly 400 acres. A Times report that year described the farm's four main brick buildings as being shaded by evergreens and palms. "At first glance the place might be thought a comfortable, old-fashioned country mansion." The paper noted that the farm's newest building -- "the insane ward" -- was a one-story structure that housed 25 "harmless" patients.

The Poor Farm was renamed "Sunny Acres" in 1931 by officials seeking a "less odious name," as one county supervisor put it. The farming operation was phased out in the '30s when President Franklin D. Roosevelt's social welfare programs kicked in.

The place operated as the Rancho Los Amigos hospital for chronic illnesses until the 1950s, when a polio epidemic turned it into a rehabilitation center. Today, the farm's remaining 212 acres are split in two by Imperial Highway. The Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, one of the country's top spinal injury and stroke treatment facilities, is on 48 acres north of the highway. To the south, much of the remaining 164 acres has been redeveloped, although the actual Poor Farm structures remain -- at least for now.

The Poor Farm property, known to some as the Rancho Los Amigos "south campus," is tentatively planned to become the site of a county office building, according to county analyst Hannah Chen. Although those plans are probably several years off, the remaining buildings are so old that they're now unsafe to even enter. "But you see something like this sitting vacant and it breaks your heart. I don't think it's impossible to make this into a habitable place again," Atkinson said. "We already have this built and paid for."

Another Times article adds this nourish footnote:

The macabre tale began Wednesday morning on the grounds of the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, the noted county hospital in Downey, where a group of U.S. Marines were using abandoned buildings as part of a military exercise.

The troops spotted a freezer inside one of the buildings. Upon opening it, they discovered a package full of mummified body parts. David Sommers, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, whose district includes the hospital, said the freezer was in what was once a hospital morgue.

On examination, a pathologist said the parts were amputated medical specimens and not the result of foul play. Hammond said the county-owned building hadn't been used for 25 years or so.

The facility straddles Imperial Highway, just east of the L.A. River. Nearly all of the early buildings are south of Imperial -- all of these are abandoned now; most are boarded up. The structures on the north side are more modern, and most of those are still in use. Lorendoc and I walked around the older section for quite a while, and a couple weeks later I returned for more photos. Here are a few, along with some vintage images.

This great map from about 1930 gives a nice overview and identifies the major structures. Note that the locale is identified as "Hondo", named after the Rio Hondo, which is a tributary of the L.A. River. (not available online)

Then and now of the Administration Building on Dahlia Ave. near Bonita St:

And the Medical Building, on the north side of Imperial Highway:

An early, undated photo of the "psychopathic wards" on Erickson Ave.

I'd like to get a now version of that shot, but haven't quite figured out where it was taken from. Here are a few photos of those buildings though, starting with this view of Flores St., looking north from Erickson (Eucalyptus on the early map). The larger north psychopathic ward is on the left, the smaller southern section is on the right.

On Erickson Ave., looking towards the southern psychopathic ward.

"Infirmary Row" in 1929:

And my photo of those buildings, taken from the other end of the lane:

I was interested in the water tower, chimney, and especially the old wooden tower in the distance. Here's a view of those structures from Erickson Ave. The wood tower was associated with the early "power house" (on the right, partially blocked by the tree) and was used to condense steam from the turbines.

Some of the dozens of iron lungs in the polio ward, 1954:

The chapel:

And if you ever visit this place, remember:

ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 2:49 AM

:previous: Amazing post 3940dxer!

ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 2:53 AM

Congratulations HossC and found both the rooftop and the mystery sign.

pinpointed by HossC

and ProphetM

You both win a set of babushka smoking cork-screw souvenirs.:)


ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 3:31 AM

R.I.P. Lizabeth Scott, one of film noir's most unique femme fatales. (she was 92)

:previous: note the name of the link. It was an 'open' secret in Hollywood that she was a lesbian.


Here is a short video of her 'singing' " Either It's Love Or It Isn't" from 'Dead Reckoning' (1947) with Humphrey Bogart.

click here:

below: Interesting essay on her sexuality and how it destroyed her career. :(

On the OT....and very Hush Hush

fhammon Feb 8, 2015 3:45 AM


Originally Posted by 3940dxer (Post 6905930)
Last fall, an adventurous bicycling group introduced me to the L.A. County Poor Farm. (snip)

Thank you, David (3940dxer) that was a powerful presentation about Rancho Los Amigos. Regardless of how much it was covered here at NLA, it still managed to escape my attention. You've definitely captured mine with your caring and detail.

I sometimes tend to get a little frustrated when I see work like yours and many others and there's no easy to way to call to your attention or anybody's here who contribute so marvelously, my appreciation short of re-posting everything including pics in a quote and saying "Nice Job". That's annoying IMO.

There are other EZboard formats that allow for a "like" button feature which give individual board members the ability to publicly declare their appreciation for somebody's efforts in posting researched and heartfelt subjects. In that board format any particular post will display the number of "likes" and the board names (handles) of the people who liked them it could be added here but it would effect the entirety of skyscraperpage and would be it's owners decision. I doubt they've even noticed NLA exists... (wink)
There is a downside to that feature as it might subvert and pervert people's motives for contributing. A popularity game. We don't want that here.

I don't know what else to do except to write something like this, in shorter form, to express my appreciation which probably won't get noticed because it doesn't have pictures in it.
...and maybe PMs expressing simple appreciations are too intrusive? I don't get any... very few. A pop-up sign appears. They can be extremely welcome but also distracting at times.

I've been handling it by once in awhile posting a general "Thank you everybody" comment to show my appreciation.
I don't know what else to do.

Thanks again for your presentation, David.

... and Martin Pal's - Spadena House.
and tovangar2's - Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery.... on and on.
I just have this urge to reach out and say "I like what you did there." without being ubiquitous and intrusive and I think people want acknowledgment. It's only natural but it doesn't appear to have impeded this particular thread any.

CityBoyDoug Feb 8, 2015 4:30 AM

Bullets for bad boys......
CD file

The Gamson car was riddled with bullets in 1946. He was later killed by unknown assailants.
In October 1946 Gamson, who was described as: “the pudgy 39 year old strong arm of many aliases”, and an associate, George Levinson, were shot and killed by unknown assailants.

Witnesses said that Gamson had stumbled from an apartment house on Beverly Blvd with blood streaming from five through and through bullet holes. He died on the sidewalk, screaming for help.

George Levinson dropped near the door of the apartment house with a slug through the back of his head.

tovangar2 Feb 8, 2015 8:14 AM


OMG, Benny "The Meatball" Gamson should have never messed with Mickey Cohen. There's just no future in that kind of behavior.

The ATX Feb 8, 2015 8:25 AM

I love this thread. It has always been my favorite SSP thread.

stanklem Feb 8, 2015 4:12 PM

Prohibition - 1920
"On Jan. 19, 1920, 33,100 gallons of wine were flushed into the gutter outside the North Cucamonga Winery in Los Angeles (845 N. Alameda) at the start of the nationwide prohibition on intoxicating drink." Daily Breeze History blog

With Heal The Bay and myriad environmental restrictions, where/how could the government dispose of 33,100 gallons of booze today.

Note Blue (?) & Gold Lager. Heim.Distributors. Heim Sparkling Apple Juice. I've always wondered what the 'classic' older brews were lie. Growing up in NYC, Ballantine's, Knickerbocker, and Rheingold are fond memories.
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 5:32 PM

:previous: What a great photograph stanklem.

I checked the winery warehouse address and I couldn't believe my eyes.

The building in your photograph is still there!

originally posted by stanklem


ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 5:42 PM

I just came across this postcard on ebay.

I can't quite make out what it says after Los Angeles.

Does anyone recognize this street?

ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 5:52 PM

And here's another photograph, this time a snapshot with a 'mystery' street.

Los Angeles, 1930s.

This will take some sleuthing. :) I can almost make out the name of the service station proprietor.....Jess B_ _ _ __ .
and what does it say before it Golden Eagle?

(I hope that swell apartment building is still standing)

Earl Boebert Feb 8, 2015 7:17 PM


Originally Posted by ethereal_reality (Post 6906435)
I just came across this postcard on ebay.

I can't quite make out what it says after Los Angeles.

Does anyone recognize this street?

After some fiddling with gamma and contrast I get "Los Angeles Parlors 11th [?] [???]"



ethereal_reality Feb 8, 2015 7:31 PM

:previous: That's a good start....thanks Earl.

I don't recall seeing this unique interior on NLA.
(I wouldn't want to find myself underneath the 'balcony' seating during an earthquake)

I don't know why there's a different address (Salt Lake City) in the border of the postcard.

stanklem Feb 8, 2015 8:00 PM

Los Angeles During Prohibition
This is from a website with a bunch of photographs, mostly people, during prohibition. It does not indicate if some of photographs are of real gangsters or crimes in progress.

Maybe a bank robbery?

Just too cool and needs to be in the movies.

Some type of flying squad?

Bank robbery in progress. Wonder who took the pictures. if real, these guys had incredible hubris. Note the sparsity of furnishings and the spitoons.

Earl Boebert Feb 8, 2015 9:39 PM

A few years later and one of those guys in 26109 could have been my father, who started his career as a railroad policeman in 1933. As a quasi-Fed, he got to go to DC and qualify on the Thompson at FBI headquarters. He said it was the sweetest shooting firearm he had ever handled.



tovangar2 Feb 8, 2015 10:32 PM

Hollywood and Vine, 1942
Have we seen this one before?

Looking south down Vine from just above Hollywood Blvd, 1942. There's the Equitable and Taft buildings on the left and the Broadway Hollywood and Plaza Hotel on the right.

The guy was using a heck of a lens b/c one can make out the Ravenswood and El Royale rooftop signs on N Rossmore over two and a half miles away.

There's a small movie house in the lower right corner of the shot I'm not familiar with. HossC identifies this as the Hollywood Playhouse, 1735 Vine St. Thx!

Also see this & this

HossC Feb 8, 2015 10:54 PM

To echo fhammon's recent post, I'd also like to thank everyone who contributes here. I try to thank at least a proportion of people who follow-up my posts, and comment on a few others I find interesting, like Martin Pal's great interior shots of the Witch's House, but you can't thank everyone every time. To all those I haven't said it to - "Thank you".


Speaking of thanks, I'd like to say it 3940dxer for his post on the LA County Poor Farm in Downey. There's something I find fascinating about abandoned buildings, some of which just get boarded up and left in their final state for decades. A few years before I discoved NLA, I read quite a few sites about urban explorers who go around accessing abandoned building (not always legally!) and photographing them. They could be anything from old office buildings and hotels to factories and at least one indoor sports arena. I think my favorites were the old, isolated hospitals and asylums, especially the Kirkbrides, but I digress.

Earlier today I found a blog which is slightly misleadingly titled 6 of the Scariest Abandoned Mental Asylums in America. There's no text to read, but pictures 19 through 37 are of the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, including some interior shots like the ones below.

Power Plant
Jonathan Haeber/TunnelBug on Flickr

Philo Hagen

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