WeHo’s The Factory is Added to National List of 11 Endangered Historic Places

The  Factory on Robertson Boulevard (Photo: Los Angeles Times, 1929)
The Factory on Robertson Boulevard (Photo: Los Angeles Times, 1929)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named The Factory in West Hollywood to its 2015 list of America’s most endangered historic places. The annual list of the trust, which is a privately funded nonprofit, spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that the trust sees as being at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 250 sites have been on the list over its 28-year history.

The building known as The Factory is located at 665 N. Robertson Blvd. south of Santa Monica and currently serves as a venue for nightlife events such as Rasputin. Jason Illoulian of Faring Capital has developed a plan to replace the building with a project called Robertson Lane that will include a hotel with more than 250 rooms, underground parking with more than 1,000 spaces and cafes and small retail spaces. The project also will include a 30- to 35-foot-wide lane providing a visual and physical connection between Robertson Boulevard and La Peer.

Rendering of Robertson Lane Hotel as seen from Robertson Boulevard. (Architect Hodgetts + Fung)
Rendering of Robertson Lane Hotel as seen from Robertson Boulevard. (Architect Hodgetts + Fung)

Historic preservation activists have mounted a campaign to save the building, citing what some see as its importance in gay history. It once was the home of Studio One, a gay disco that opened in 1974 and drew celebrities such as Patti LaBelle, Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli along with as many as 1,000 gay men. The Dead History Project, an organization created by Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney, has created a Facebook page called Save the Factory to promote preservation of the building. The Los Angeles Conservancy has expressed its concerns about the proposed demolition in a letter to the West Hollywood Community Development Department. The Conservancy is asking that the Factory building be incorporated into plans for Robertson Lane.

The Factory is a Truscon Steel Company-designed industrial building built in 1929 to house the Mitchell Camera Corporation, whose cameras enabled films to go from silent to “talkies,” and continued to influence camera technology until the digital era arrived in the early 2000s. Following Mitchell’s move to the suburbs in 1946, The Factory was used variously as a cosmetics warehouse, a furniture showroom, a celebrity nightclub, an antique market and an experimental theatre.

“The Factory is a trove of important and multi-layered history that simply cannot be replaced,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The Factory has proven many times over its history that it can successfully evolve with changing times to serve a variety of uses. As West Hollywood plans its future, this is just the type of place to protect and preserve, not destroy.”


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Disco Dan
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Disco Dan

Lynn – Well said and thanks for the information.

Lynn Russell
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Lynn Russell

Some very brief research into Truscon Steel Industrial Buildings based in Youngstown, Ohio opens some splendid past and future design concepts. Something recently struck me in looking at the Factory building and considering the newly opened Garage Museum in Moscow designed by Rem Koolhaas in collaboration with Dasha Zhukova its founder. There appear to be interesting connections between Russian Constructivist architecture and the designs of Truscon. These industrial style concepts surely are worthy of some exploration. Dasha Zhokova states “Garage Museum of Contemporary Art’s past and future are inextricably linked to architecture. In 2008 we saved and restored the Bakhmetevsky… Read more »

C.R.
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C.R.

That means the loss of 3 separate nightlife dance spaces which comprise the existing building in favor of a hotel and cafes? WeHo continues to become more boring and less of a nightlife destination as time goes by, that’s been clear for some time now. Too much emphasis on restaurant-slash-bars (PUMP/Cooley’s/BarTen) and mill-around spots (Here/Abbey/Revolver). That just leaves old Mickys and Rage. Bo-ring.

JJ
Guest
JJ

I also agree with Larry. Common sense and reasonable.

luca d
Guest
luca d

tear it down. the city as we remember is lost so we might as well build something iconic and beautiful and hand over this city to the next generations. it’s time for them to live out their memories.
i worked at studio as a bartender, and it was great but, it’s time to move on.

Manny
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Manny

Just don’t mess with Bossa Nova!!!

Rob Bergstein
Guest
Rob Bergstein

Amen, Larry, amen….
It’s an unattractive building that has served many purposes over the years. If there’s some way to incorporate some of the materials in the building into Jason’s new project and to mark the site with a plaque that denotes prior use of the building, great.

JJ
Guest
JJ

As a gay man who enjoyed dancing away many a weekend night in this building, I DO NOT think it should be “saved.” It is not architecturally significant ..at all. It’s was a factory. The cultural significance to warrant keeping this building is a stretch. We’d all still be living in mud huts and walking on dirt roads if change never happened. In this case, the pros of replacing this building with what is proposed far outweigh the negatives. Trying to make the old factory structure work with a new design is kinda like Cinderella’s ugly stepsister trying to squeeze… Read more »

Snarkygal
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Snarkygal

Yeah, just tear down anything old and/or ugly. You people are out of your mind.

Sometimes the tenants do matter..

Disco Dan
Guest
Disco Dan

I’m glad that so many of the above never had a hand in developing Rome, Athens, OR EVEN Carmel ! ! !. It’s a “slash and burn” mindset which is very troubling, especially with an emphasis on increased tax dollars and “customers.” Yeah, like we need yet ANOTHER ‘effin hotel ! ! The Factory can be repurposed. All it takes is creativity, imagination and financial support.

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

Thx Larry – as usual, you are the voice of common sense.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

The ‘tenant’ does not make a building historic. We saw this with Tower Records. The building lacked any architectural significance, it was the tenant that was famous. “The home of” does not make it historic. Cher lived in my house in the 70’s .. should my house be deemed historic? At the neighborhood outreach meeting held at the community room with concerned residents and the developer Jason Illoulian ideas were exchanged to help make this development fully inclusive of the concerns of local residents. The developer seemed open minded to incorporating the architectural significant tin tiles on the outside of… Read more »