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When Margot Gerber, president of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and a veteran marketing and publicity executive at American Cinematheque, thinks of The Hollywood Reporter’s former home at 6715 Sunset Blvd., a specific image spring to mind.
“I imagine the 1940s when THR editors and writers would have lunch at Musso & Frank before heading down the street at night for film premieres at the Chinese or El Capitan,” she explains. To Gerber, the THR building is an integral part of telling the story of Hollywood’s past, which is why the org submitted the building — THR’s home from the 1930s through the 1990s, followed by LA Weekly until 2008 — to the city for consideration as a Historical Cultural Monument.
The organization passed the first two phases of that process (both in front of the Cultural Heritage Commission) with one more to go before reaching the L.A. City Council for a final vote. Up next is a yet-to-be-scheduled date with the Planning & Land Use Management Committee, for which Art Deco is gathering petition signatures (more than 500 so far toward a goal of 5,000).
Remodeled in 1937 by architect Douglas Honnold under the supervision of THR founder William Wilkerson, the building is praised by Art Deco for its “exceptionally uncommon” Hollywood Regency Moderne architectural style. Gerber says that the Art Deco Society targets buildings that they feel deserve to remain in the Los Angeles landscape, and the nomination process began for THR’s onetime home in 2015. It wasn’t long after when they realized that Harridge Development Group had plans for a massive development project that would include demolishing the building and several others to make room for hotel and condo towers along with a mix of office and commercial spaces.
She’s quick to point out, though, that landmark status can’t keep the building from being torn down. “The Art Deco Society is not against development, but we do encourage sensitive development and, when possible, incorporating a historic building into a new development. Try to merge L.A.’s past with the present so people can see a diversity of architecture,” Gerber says. “Art deco buildings are works of art. Would you go and smash a Monet painting in a museum just because it’s old? If we don’t save these buildings, like THR’s, in 30 years all that we will have are pictures.”
And those images of THR staffers on the beat in Hollywood will be gone too. “To tear everything down interrupts that story and erases it,” Gerber says. “It would be a shame to see more of Hollywood’s golden age disappear.”
THR could not reach Harridge for comment.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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