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Patch Blog: Memories on The Lot

The demolition of a historical studio lot evokes memories of films past.

I hate to see being razed. I worked there in 1991 on a TV pilot called Man of the People with James Garner, as well as a couple other shows. You can almost reach out and feel the energy left there by such movie greats as Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and Elizabeth Taylor, not to mention Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes. I don't know where ghosts go when you tear their homes down, but in this case, I hope they hang around. 

Too bad old movie studios can't be placed in a time capsule for future movie history junkies, like me, instead of being relegated to the demolition dust bin of progress. But we must bear the hearbreaks, as well as the joys of progress, even when it entails seeing the monuments of movie lore disappear before our eyes and replaced by structures of glass and steel squares, totally lacking in the magic inherent to the old stucco and wood studio sound stage walls that are so heavily slanted, and marked by the ravages of age, and top-heavy with tales that will forever rest untold.

I hope they will leave at least some physical remnants of the great movies that were made there, from Robin Hood and The Thief of Baghdad in the 1920s to Guys & Dolls and scenes from West Side Story in the 1950s and '60s, and the legendary TV shows like The Love Boat, Dynasty and The Fugitive of later decades. 

Lucie Arnaz once told me that when her parents house in Beverly Hills was being torn down, she went there and asked a worker for the knob from the front door. She felt that one little physical connection would keep her in touch with the past, no matter how far away it got. Good point. If anyone knows how I can get a door knob from The Lot, please let me know. There are no memories as precious as those you can hold in your hand.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ali March 27, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I don't think they are tearing the whole lot down. Are they? I read in the LA Times today that WeHo approved razing part of the studio that is in Los Angeles. Surely, they can't get away with that. The bungalow that Sinatra used to chill at, on the south side of the lot, is in Los Angeles and is scheduled to be torn down. That lot should have been made a historic property instead of just a potential historic property like the sign says out front (or something to that effect). Our city council seems to deem historic personal homes, but not a property like this which is most certainly historic.
Manny March 27, 2012 at 03:59 PM
The Times article also mentions razing the building along Santa Monica Blvd which is in West Hollywood. Is this project up review or is it a done deal? Thank you Woody for a fun read on the history of this property.
Hillsman Wright March 28, 2012 at 04:27 PM
It is possible to retain many of the historic structures on The Lot and other studios by re-purposing or adaptively re-using the spaces. This approach keeps the past alive and allows owners to make a reasonable financial return on their investment. Another concern with the re-development of The Lot is the punishing load it will put on area streets and services. There are several mega-developments permitted or already underway within a few blocks of what was once Pickford-Fairbanks Studio.
George Reese March 31, 2012 at 11:08 PM
It makes me sick to think that they are going to tear down the offices along the Santa Monica Blvd portion of the studio. I always wondered what all those sealed up doors were for; now I know they are offices for production companies. Something is just not right about how this didn't get any publicity until 2 weeks before the wrecking ball begins its work. Now it's too late to do anything. The story in the LA Times wasn't clear but if I understood it correctly, demolition begins in 2 weeks at the corner of Formosa and SM Blvd with the corner tower and will eventually involve tearing down the entire front from Formosa and Poinsettia. And that is a disgrace.Shame on the city leaders for allowing this!
Larry April 12, 2012 at 11:24 AM
There are always options to keep our history. That is what historical preservation is about. It can be a win-win by integrating the old with the new. It helps to have a strong preservation law that mandates preservation.
Salvador Gomez May 31, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Being that I will be commenting a whole year or so after this was initially published and the last comments were made, maybe I can bring everyone somewhat up to speed. What we know to be true is that 2 buildings were demolished. The Pickford building directly adjacent to the main gate on Formosa and the Goldwyn mixing stage which sat right next to the Pickford building. A large multi-story office type building is being constructed on that site which will include underground parking. As of today we know that nothing else has been touched. The Santa Monica East and West buildings still stand as do all the surviving sound stages and the Sinatra Bungalow. You can read more here: http://sunset-boulevard.rsspump.com/?topic=construction-delayed-on-the-lot&key=20130419143520_8498bc2296d9a430ef79b2d9e63acc74

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