State Rejects Historic Designation for The Factory

An image of the revised plan for Robertson Lane, included a restoration of The Factory. (Hodgetts + Fung)
An image of the revised plan for Robertson Lane, included a restoration of The Factory. (Hodgetts + Fung)

The California Historical Resources Commission on Friday rejected a request to find The Factory building eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The building, known for being the home of Mitchell Camera Factory and the Studio One nightclub, was previously denied designation for local listing in 1995.

Faring Capital said the rejection won’t stop it from proceeding with its plan to incorporate a majority of The Factory into its Robertson Lane project. That project will include a hotel, shops and restaurants and 1,000 subterranean parking spaces on the lot between Robertson Boulevard and LaPeer Drive where The Factory building is located.

“Despite being denied eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, Faring recognizes how important The Factory building is locally and to the greater Los Angeles region,” said Darren Embry, Faring’s director of community development. “The Factory’s local connection is why Faring has worked so hard with our preservationist community partners over the last three years to arrive at our current Robertson Lane proposal that incorporates the Factory, which is truly a win-win.”

The current Factory building
The current Factory building

In April a group of historical preservation advocates known as the West Hollywood Heritage Project filed an application with the National Register of Historic Places to have The Factory building declared a historic resource. The state Historical Resources Commission’s evaluation was part of the National Register’s approval process. Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney, founders of the WeHo Heritage group, had hoped The Factory would become the first West Coast LGBT property on the National Register. Preservation activists see the fact that The Factory housed Studio One as an important part of gay history. That gay disco, which opened in 1974, drew celebrities such as Patti LaBelle, Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli along with as many as 1,000 gay men.

Last year the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a different organization, put the Factory on its 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.

Faring, which originally had planned to demolish The Factory building, worked with other local preservation organizations such as the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance and the Los Angeles Conservancy to find a way to incorporate it into the Robertson Lane project.

“The completion of Robertson Lane will ensure The Factory will remain part of our community for years to come, for future generations in West Hollywood to enjoy,” said Craig Hodgetts, a partner with Ming Fung in Hodgetts + Fung, which is designing the project. “Robertson Lane will celebrate The Factory’s storied past and start a new and exciting chapter in the building’s history.”

CEO Jason Illoulian noted that last Tuesday Faring hosted over 150 local West Hollywood residents and small business owners to solicit input from the community. “Robertson Lane will alleviate the parking burdens in the neighborhood and transform this part of West Hollywood into a walkable district,” Illoulian said in a press release. More information about the project is available at its website.

More information about Robertson Lane and the future plans for The Factory building is available on the project’s website.

  1. Sorry but the building should be torn down and the space used to promote our city’s business. If such “factories” relating to the entertainment industry were all designated “landmarks” that could involved hundreds of old warehouses, stores, studio support and even old houses. As for STUDIO ONE, while I enjoyed the events there and liked the owner, that too should not qualify as a landmark as much as THE FRENCH QUARTER bldg, an issue that is being overlooked.

  2. The actual building has.ZERO construction historic value. It is about the history that it represents and the large part of the City’s fight for a safe gay Haven.

  3. The actual photo and the artist’s rendering don’t really match up. Are they going to move the structure?

  4. I don’t believe either one qualify for historical designation and the State of California agrees with me on the Factory. I don’t think anyone has submitted “the restaurant” for consideration but if it submitted for designation my guess is that would be rejected too. I follow the news in West Hollywood and realize the developer is the same for both proposed projects. My guess is that he incorporated the Factory (in part) to appease the very vocal group that opposes all development (in this case they were upset the Factory would be demolished to make way for the Robertson Lane project). No one has made as big a stink over “the restaurant.” (yet) Sentimentality is not considered when determining if a structure is architecturally and historically significant.

  5. Do you think it’s a coicidence that these developments have come together to achieve the same thing? nope. And this idea of a “village” with a 4 lane highway (route 66) going through it is somewhat delusional.

    1. JJ, it’s the same developer. The same one who bought land where French Market and the next door club (whatever their name is this week) are located. NO ATTEMPT to make the FM a landmark or incorporate it into the new office/mixed use building there is planned however. I’m not sure why a warehouse (the structure where STUDIO ONE now THE FACTORY) is deemed so important to be “saved” let alone considered a landmark (it isn’t)

  6. @JJ….if the idea is to create a small village walkway then there needs to be an organized city plan to make that happen. Just hoping developers build an alleyway to connect them all is just wishful thinking…especially the property between the Gateway and this Robertson Lane project which has no plans as of now. I get the idea. It could be an Old Town Pasadena type thing with small shops and stuff…but I dont see that effort. Just seems like you’re getting a strange alleyway like you have that strange El Tovar Place road that cuts the new library in half.

    I still think investing in the small storefront shops all along SM Blvd to create a cohesive look is the best idea we can do to achieve some sort or Weho Village.

  7. oh, and by the way…the idea is to have a continuous walk way through the park and then through Robertson Lane and then through a “future redevelopment” of the parcel on the next block and then continuing on through to the Melrose Triangle Project…to create a small village type atmosphere.

  8. @SaveWeho – if a developer could get their hands on that hideous Hamburger Haven and Bossa Nova, I’d support redevelopment of those spaces too! Hoping that once the Robertson Lane project is built that someone will offer enough money to the HH and Bossa Nova to obtain their land and make something nice.

  9. Don Azars…that’s ridiculous. Just cause you have more fond memories of a restaurant than you do a building that holds Hollywood history doesn’t make it less qualified. If that stupid hamburger hut across from City Hall can be designated…then this iconic warehouse deserves it. And its not pandering to city hall. Its accepting that there is more than one kind of building or architectural element that deserves to be honored.

  10. This is a building without distinctive design or construction. It is a warehouse..though occupied several cultural businesses from Feature Film Camera eqpt to the internationally famous STUDIO ONE and the subsequent not so celebrated or well known “Factory” club. There is NO iconic value to it as a building and thus not a landmark. The developer incorporating it into his new construction is pandering to city politics perhaps…or found an economical value. He should better pay attention to the FRENCH MARKET demolition plans and instead incorporate it by name and/or structure into that new building.

  11. The Factory is an architectural remnant of a particular building type, deserving of preservation, a site of social and labor history, not to mention its continuing controversial role as a site of counter-cultural activity.

  12. I’d be curious how much of it is actually going to be saved. Its an enormous building with sort of two wings with the T shape at the top. I have a feeling they will probably keep the shorter (entry) wing of it and that’s what is being rotated along Robertson Blvd…but the vast majority of the building will be demolished. And I dont understand the big deal about that passthrough everyone thinks is so fabulous. The passthrough will go nowhere but to another street. So basically from the park to La Peer. Is the sidewalk on Santa Monica Blvd a mere 50 feet away so difficult to get to?

  13. Well at least they are keeping the building as part of the project- and is so so HUGE! Doesn’t sound like they even have to – no? That is cool, right? More projects should just be organically doing this and save a lot of time and money!

  14. I support The Factory building as Historically significant particularly in relation to West Hollywood. The Factory building is an INDUSTRIAL structure built for manufacturing (not a warehouse) with more than one role in the development of West Hollywood.

    First in 1929 it served as manufacturing for the Mitchell Camera Co. a very important contribution in an area world famous for its film industry and a time when people had manufacturing jobs in the U.S. near where they lived.

    In the 70’s-80’s Studio One/The Back Lot WERE landmarks in West Hollywood. The Back Lot featured live entertainment in a Cabaret setting by important artist of that time. There were no barricades, no security, you didn’t need it. It was live and up close. Afterwards you could walk next door and dance all night long on the huge dance floor. Its hard to imagine because nothing like that exist now and most likely never will again.

    Was Studio One important? Did anything significant or life changing happen on that disco era dance floor?It depends on who you talk to. But it is a fact that Studio One was an important part of West Hollywood in the 70’s-80’s and made it’s contribution in terms of culture and community.
    What made it different from the other gay bars of the time? Everything. Who is still talking about the other bars? None of them had the impact of Studio One. There was nothing else like it.

    The Factory building is an industrial building in an area where that was what was needed in 1929. It is a reference to what West Hollywood was then and its history. Not every historically important structure looks like a palace. Research is important. Architecture, just like people should be appreciated for character/history not only judged by what you see on the surface. There may be more to the story.

    And that’s why The Factory building is historically significant.

  15. Don Azars, the WeHoVille story on Barney’s Beanery dates its opening in 1927. Does the French Marketplace have that kind of longevity? If not, then Barney’s clearly has more of a case for preservation. Enoch Miller, The Factory is the original name of this location. It was later changed to Studio One. Then it (eventually) became The Factory again.

  16. Cannot wait for this project to be build…aside from the major face-lift that place has needed, the additional of a 1,000 parking spaces for the public would be HUGE for that area.

    Also if you want to commemorate a point in LGBT history like Studio One do something that commemorates it like a mural or a plaque. Plus until the plans for this project came up what was ever done to show that people historically recognized the Factory as the old Studio One beside the big black building. Nothing!! I never would have known anything about it unless my partner had told me about the days from when they used to party there and all that but it just seems too typical that people cry “historic preservation” only when they don’t want new development.

    It is an amazing design and Faring Capital has done some much to work with the local community to preserve the building that was a monument in the community.

  17. Yet we still get to gaze upon the hideous Burger Haven and the ugly tarped Bossa Nova, and the disgusting cigar shop storefronts. Yeah…brilliant. Complain about an actual Weho icon but do nothing about the real eyesores. And the crime issue isn’t from the Factory..its from the owners that host non-gay nights that bring in the element.

  18. Not surprised it was left off the registry but I am surprised the developer is still going to keep it. good for faring for keeping its promises to the historical and lgbtq groups to restore the building

  19. Thank God the Building was rejected! The only significant things that happened at the Factory nightclub can’t be written down here in Public! What does the local and Greater LA area find so captivating about this hunk of metal? It’s a Barn and an eyesore. Not to mention that it now is a club that causes more problems for the area than it’s worth. Knock it down soon…please!
    What was more significant about this place than any of the other gay nightclubs that were in Boystown in the 70’s and 80’s? It seems like the fact that the developer is even considering keeping a portion of the building is extraordinary. The look of the development is cool and it’s so much better than the awful Barney’s Beanery building rendering!

    I hope that everyone recognizes that it’s time to stop beating this dead horse.

    Factory RIP

  20. No surprise there. Hoping this project gets built (with our without the Factory) and we get this area cleaned up with new shops and restaurants. Let’s get movin’! (love the new design)

  21. While I honor, remember and value my days and nights at STUDIO ONE (now called the Factory) I couldn’t imaging it being a LANDMARK as such, nor do I see a reason of incorporating it into a new area of commercial endeavor. I feel the same about Barney’s Beanery. BUT I don’t feel that way about the French Market (formerly Arthur Js) which SHOULD be designated as a landmark and incorporated in the new building the developer (same one that’s doing the Factory area project)

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