Garden of Allah: Rediscovering WeHo’s Lost Oasis

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]nce upon a time, taking up the short strip of Sunset between Crescent Heights and Havenhurst, the Garden of Allah was something of an oasis. Built in the early 20th century as the home of actress Alla Nazimova, the complex was later expanded by Nazimova to include multiple villas and bungalows. Through the 1920’s through the 1950’s, a myriad of actors, performers and writers called the Garden of Allah home.

Today, it’s tough to picture the lush citrus trees and Spanish-style architecture that once shaded the complex’s swimming pool. The strip mall that stands in its stead, after the whole place was bulldozed in 1959, is indistinguishable from any other LA shopping center.

But with a little searching, a trip underground, and help from a property manager named Ulisses Acosta, it’s possible to find a hint of the past in this place at the edge of West Hollywood. Although, feeling the magic of the raucous parties of yore attended by creative geniuses? That still takes some serious imagining.

Historic Garden of Allah photos courtesy of Marc Wanamaker and the Bison Archives.


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Sheila Roberts
Guest
Sheila Roberts

Thank you, Kaitlin! Nice story on a fascinating piece of old Hollywood history!

Randy
Guest

And it is a great story, by the way!

Randy
Guest

I understand posting it under “Worth a Look,” but keep the original date intact, would be my suggestion. Not changing it to November 25, as though it is a new story. I know there was no malicious intent, but that is a tad misleading.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

Oddly, because of the vagaries of WordPress, the template for our website, the only date that shows is the date something is posted (or moved and reposted).

luca d
Guest
luca d

this was interesting the first time it was posted many months ago. I don’t mind recycling stories or city nostalgia, but present it as such.
now if they want to impress, this site would devote itself to presenting many other historical pictures and videos of old west hollywood.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

We repost vintage stories such as this one under “Worth a Look” because of our rapidly growing audience, which has quintupled since this was first posted. We don’t want our new readers to miss such pieces, which otherwise disappear into the internet ether. We’ll be adding much more content about historic West Hollywood soon. In the meantime, checkout Vintage Los Angeles on Facebook, created by our friend Alison Martino.

Jim Nelson
Guest
Jim Nelson

And now, the bank and strip mall will be torn down and a huge apartment building with an ugly retail base that covers the entire site will be built.

David M.
Guest
David M.

Hello my name is David M. I have the original model of the GOA for the last 15 years that was displayed at the great western bank, Its still in excellent condition. If anyone is interested on more information on it here is my email
davidweho@gmail.com

Jam
Guest
Jam

A friend of mine owns that scale model that @anonymous is talking about. It’s an amazing model. It is placed in his living room as “the center piece” and every time he has guest, it’s the first topic of conversation everyone wants to know its history. The scale model is in Weho!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

There was a scale model of the Garden of Allah in Lyton (sp?) Savings (about three feet by three feet) for years. It was covered with plexiglas and then moved to the parking lot after that bank moved on.
And lest we forget – Pandora’s Box was a little purple nightclub in the triangle on Crescent Heights that burned down with quite a lot of drama in the 60s.

Brian Hamilton
Guest

Joni Mitchell was NOT writing about the Garden of Allah, according to this article: “Mitchell noted in interviews that she was inspired to write the song by a trip to Hawaii, when she looked out her hotel window at the beautiful landscape, then gazed down and saw a parking lot. This gave birth to the song’s chorus in which Mitchell repeats the cliché that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, adding, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” “

StevieD
Guest
StevieD

Children, children. The rear property line of the shipping center is also the West Hollywood city limit. The old Garden of Allah is just over the line in LA City.

http://goo.gl/maps/HkQYI

Jeff Cronin
Guest
Jeff Cronin

the bank building with the folded roof is actually one of the outstanding mid-century modern buildings in this area–possibly Smith & Williams? similar to Don Wexler’s work in Palm Springs…so it’s unfair to dismiss the site as an anonymous “strip mall.” The area is heavily commercial and besieged with traffic…the idea that quaint cottages and gardens from the 1920s would have remained here is simply nostalgic…

Ryan Gierach
Guest

Dear Undocumented WeHo’an (whomever you are – these anonymous snipes are the reason WeHo News has no comments. Too uncertain of yourself to man up and ID yourself?) I have never, ever, even visited 5627 Fernwood Ave, in Los Angeles, let alone live there. (you still use mapquest?) I have been a West Hollywood resident for years, except for a recent medical sojourn. I keep my office in the French MarketPlace, suite 205. Come by sometime to visit sometime. You can consider yourself a WeHo resident if you live in Pacoima, but it doesn’t make you one. The practice of… Read more »