Hollywood Studio Building – Future Home of HPOA
October 30, 2015
In December 2015, the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance (HPOA) staff will move from the Taft Building into its very own, custom-designed street level office in the Mid-BID. The new headquarters will occupy 6562 Hollywood Blvd, the storefront that was home for years to the legendary Hollywood Book & Poster Company. With this exciting move, we thought we’d do a little research into the history of the building. What we found is nothing short of amazing. Not only is the store rich with Hollywood history of its own, but the building that houses it, The Hollywood Studio Building, has been witness to both the birth of Hollywood, the industry, and Hollywood, the place.
Painting the Picture
The year is 1913. Hollywood, which incorporated as a city in 1903, has recently annexed itself back to Los Angeles in order to get access to water and city sewer systems. The main artery, Prospect Avenue, has been renamed Hollywood Blvd. and small commercial centers have formed around the Highland and Cahuenga intersections. There, hotels, banks, a post office, newspaper, markets, restaurants and even movie theatres serve the local constituents. Hollywood Boulevard has been paved, has lighting and a street car running down its center.
The majority of the area is still suburban in nature, however. Former orchards, barley fields and orange groves have been subdivided into lots dotted with homes. Grand Victorians with luscious gardens surround Hollywood Boulevard. And famous artists, authors and entrepreneurs still call the area home.
In 1911, world-renowned writer, L. Frank Baum, built a large house at 1749 Cherokee Avenue (at the corner of Yucca) which he and his wife christened “Ozcot.” His award-winning garden stretches all the way to Hollywood Boulevard and is a must-see for visitors to the area. French artist Paul de Longpre, whose home has long been a Hollywood tourist attraction, recently passed away, but his grand Mission Revival home and elegant “Le Roi de Fleur” garden remain at Hollywood & Wilcox. The lush Asian-style Yamashiro estate built by bachelor brothers Adolph and Eugene Bernheimer in 1912, looks down on the community from a nearby hillcrest. And Dr. Alfred Schloesser’s grand castles, Glengary Castle and Sans Souci, are visible in the distance on the NW and NE corners of Franklin & Argyle.
The Movie Industry Is Born
In late 1910, the Nestor Company came out from New York and set up the first movie studio in the former Blondeau Tavern at Sunset & Gower. Other companies followed quickly and by mid-1911 more than 15 companies are in the area, churning out short comedies and Westerns. Cowboys, working as extras, can be seen riding their horses to work at “Gower Gulch,” as the area is known, alongside the automobiles that are becoming increasingly popular.
In late 1912 director Cecil B. DeMille rented a horse barn at Vine & Selma for $200 a month and together with partners Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn, used it to film the first feature-length film, The Squaw Man, throughout 1913. The movie would go on to great success after its release in 1914. The producers, Famous Players-Lasky Co., would become Paramount Studios and Hollywood would become the movie-making capital of the world.
The Hollywood Studio Building
This is the landscape that surrounded the tract of land where George Bennett decided to build a commercial property in July, 1913. The plot along Hollywood Boulevard was empty, with a lumberyard to the east and Selma Avenue Public School to the south. A movie theatre—once called the Idle Hour, then renamed the Iris—stands across the street (where American Vintage was most recently). The Janes House is operating as a school and the site of the future Hillview Apartments is still a garden.
George Bennett built a one-story, 2 room commercial building on the property. In 1915, a new owner filed a permit to move a building matching the same description from 6562 Hollywood Blvd to 1332 Citrus Avenue (several blocks south). A new building permit was then filed in 1916 to build a larger commercial building at 6560-6562 Hollywood.
The first listings found in the Los Angeles City Directories for businesses at that address show various car dealerships from 1917-1920. By the early 1920’s, businesses reflecting the growing community and its needs begin to show up, from a Wireless Apparatus Manufacturer (1921) to Chrisney Drug Co (1922-1923).
In 1927, Hollywood Blvd was in the midst of enormous growth, reflecting the strong economy and the rise of the movie industry. That year, architects Gogerty & Weyl, best known for their work on the Baine Building and the Hollywood Playhouse (Avalon), transformed the building into its current incarnation—a two-story Spanish Colonial Revival Building with Churrigueresque ornament and Moorish arched windows on the top story.
The J. J. Newberry store next door (now Hollywood Toys & Costumes), remodeled its building into an Art Deco showpiece in 1928, decorating its oversized industrial second story windows with zigzag patterns of aqua and gold chevrons and squares. And next door to that, the Kress Department Store (which became Fredericks of Hollywood), followed suit, transforming its building into an Art Deco masterpiece in 1934.
Over the following decades, a variety of different businesses occupied the building including souvenir stores, clothing stores, etc. In 1935, 6562 Hollywood Blvd. is listed as a photo store with a bakery to the left and a coffee shop to the right. City directories indicate that by 1956, Hollywood Toys & Costumes occupied the space and remained there until the late 1980s when they moved into the larger location next door.
Hollywood Book & Poster was a wonderful memorabilia store that sold everything from film stills and posters to books and magazines to DVDs and t-shirts. It opened at 1706 Las Palmas in 1977 and then moved to 6562 after Hollywood Toys vacated. Owner Eric Caidin was a noted and much beloved member of the film fan community in Hollywood. He presented the monthly Grindhouse Film Festival at the New Beverly Cinema and had small roles in cult films.
On April 18, 2008, Caidin was attacked in his store by Michael Copner, former publisher of Cult Movies Magazine, who stabbed him repeatedly in the face with a sharpened screwdriver. According to LAist, Copner might have been suffering from a seizure disorder, mental illness, and/or a brain tumor. Caidin survived and kept the store open until January 4, 2015. He died at age 62 on May 18, 2015 from an aneurysm.
BID Staff Relocates
Today, the Sieroty Company owns the building, which is home to The Second City comedy school and performance space, various clothing and shoe stores and Urban Masala, a great little Indian restaurant. And as of early December, the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance staff will join them with a new on-street presence, connecting the organization even more intimately to the community it serves. Here’s looking forward to a new era in Hollywood’s ever-evolving development.
- Early Hollywood, Marc Wanamaker and Robert Nudelman, 2007, Arcadia Publishing
- History of Hollywood, Volumes I & II, Edwin Obediah Palmer, 1937
- The Story of Hollywood: An Illustrated History, Gregory Paul Williams, 2005, BL Press, LLC
- LAist, “Life Imitates Art: Screwdriver Attack on Grindhouse’s Eric Caidin,” by Elise Thompson, April 23, 2008.
- Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety, Building Records Database
- The Los Angeles Public Library City and Street Directories
- The Los Angeles Public Library Map Collection
- The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Kim Sudhalter has worked with the Hollywood Entertainment District since its early years, helping to attract investment and revitalize the area. Originally from Europe and New York, she is an architecture and history buff who has a deep and abiding love for Hollywood and its past.