LAVA Salon to Focus on Garden of Allah, Crescent Heights Shopping Center
The Hayvenhurst, estate as it appeared not long after Alla Nazimova acquired it in 1918 and renamed  the Garden of Alla

The Hayvenhurst, estate as it appeared not long after Alla Nazimova acquired it in 1918 and renamed it the Garden of Alla; it was later converted into the Garden of Allah Hotel

The Los Angeles Visionaries Association (LAVA) is hosting a salon on Sunday, June 30, 2013, that will focus on a pair of historic structures at the east end of the Sunset Strip, the Garden of Allah Hotel and the Crescent Heights Shopping Center, which housed Schwab’s Drug Store. The Salon’s theme will be Jazz Age Los Angeles, and the two talks will each last 45 minutes each.

Presentation One: Martin Turnbull on The Garden of Allah

Martin Turnbull, co-founder of the Alla Nazimova Society and author of The Garden Of Allah novels will be discussing life at that hotel and its infamous bungalow courtyard during the 1920s and 30s. Its bootleg liquor, fizzy flappers,and all night parties defined the Jazz Age in Los Angeles. When Scott Fitzgerald came to L.A. in the mid 1930s with his $1000/week contract at MGM, it was at the Garden of Allah he chose to land. It was also the home-away-from-home for Algonquin Round Table refugees Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott, Donald Ogden Stewart and Marc Connelly, so Fitzgerald must have felt at home, as did anyone answering Hollywood’s siren call who was lucky enough to get a room there. Martin’s talk will be punctuated by readings from his first novel in the series, The Garden On Sunset.

Crescent Heights Shopping Center

Crescent Heights Shopping Center

Presentation Two: Marc Chevalier on the Crescent Heights Shopping Center & the ballyhoo spirit of the Jazz Age

For his talk, Marc Chevailer, the historian of the Oviatt Building, will focus on the Crescent Heights Shopping Center, just across the street from the Garden of Allah. First drawn to the building because of James Oviatt’s proposed, but never realized, “satellite” shop for his famous haberdashery downtown, Marc soon become ensorcelled by this beautiful French Norman revival building. Built in 1925, this towered, marble-trimmed and mansard-roofed Norman ‘chateau’ housed Schwab’s Pharmacy and the Crescent Heights Market, which fed, drugged and boozed the Garden of Allah’s voracious guests. It was where Hollywood’s movielanders shopped, schmoozed, strove and scrounged for generations … where F. Scott Fitzgerald nearly died and Marilyn Monroe got her final prescription, and where Robert Mitchum, already a star, stocked grocery shelves just for fun.

It was home to the Sunset Medical Center, the upscale Talmadge Jones Flower Shop (with its Rolls-Royce delivery trucks), a bakery, a dry cleaner, a beauty parlor, the infamous Crescent Heights Market (owned and managed by a cantankerous ex-speakeasy operator from New York, who randomly overcharged Hollywood’s elite for its groceries), and a pharmacy that would be bought out by Schwab’s in 1932. In 1949, Googie’s would build its first coffee shop next to Schwab’s.

The talks will be held on the mezzanine level of Les Noces du Figaro, Schaber’s Cafeteria (Charles F. Plummer, 1928), and the mezzanine features wonderful views of the Los Angeles Theatre.

  • Rambova | Jun 29, 2013
  • Section: Blog

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