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The halting AMPAS effort to construct a film museum in Hollywood isn’t the first time an attempt to build such a project in the area didn’t go as envisioned. Nearly 50 years ago, a plan by Los Angeles County to build a movie museum in Hollywood was derailed by a homeowner with a shotgun in an episode widely covered by The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets.
Back then, the project’s price tag was only $6.5 million, but the stakes were just as high.
In the mid-1960s, the county, led by its Board of Supervisors, purchased several tracts of land near the Hollywood Bowl with the aim of building a motion picture museum there. Noted architecture firm William L. Pereira & Associates designed a dramatic structure replete with “floating platforms, connected by ramps and escalators,” according to a Los Angeles Times article from the era. The county even amassed a collection of memorabilia worth several million dollars in preparation for the museum. (AMPAS was not involved in the project.)
But the county ran into resistance when it tried — using its power of eminent domain — to evict homeowner Stephen Anthony from his property at 6633 Alta Loma Terrace, which was to be part of the proposed museum site. Anthony, a bartender, wouldn’t budge and “stood watch with shotgun, carbine and 300 rounds of ammunition” when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department tried to evict him, according to the Times.
Anthony took the matter to court, but in 1964 the District Court of Appeals ruled against him. He was ultimately evicted and his house torn down. However, the project sputtered out, in part because of budget constraints and the county’s contentious relationship with the board of directors of the museum nonprofit. But the Anthony incident was also a key factor, says Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
“It created a huge furor,” he says. “The furor that was raised over it basically killed the museum proposal.”
The project site is now a parking lot for the Bowl. Without the museum, Hollywood has had to make do with a handful of more modest enterprises that honor the movie business, from an outpost of Madame Tussauds wax museum to the Hollywood Museum, which is located in the historic Max Factor Building and maintains a collection of 10,000 pieces of memorabilia.
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