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Old Hollywood Banks Photos

Hollywood Banks

Guaranty Building and Loan Association

When the stock market crash occurred on October 29, 1929, it marked the beginning of the worst depression the country that ever seen. All facets of the economy were affected which caused factories by the hundreds to shut down. The Army of the unemployed grew rapidly and the bread lines lengthen. Wages were cut, mortgages foreclosed and hundreds of banks failed.

Bank of Hollywood Photo

Hollywood was no exception. Business generally, missing the customers support, was receding and the rents throughout Hollywood were being reduced. Many stores were vacated. One after another, properties having mortgages equal to half their value went into the hands of the creditors.

Certainly the most devastating blow to ever hit Hollywood happened on December 8 and December 11, 1930, when to local banks failed. The first occurred when the small Bank of Hollywood temporarily closed its doors because of its inability to meet the heavy withdrawal demands from customers. This action prompted the state superintendent of banks to take possession of the local banks in order to affect the liquidation of assets. Like most banks which failed during this period, depositors sustain moderate losses.

The second, and far  most scandalous, bank failure occurred when, on December 11, 1930, and an all-night board of directors meeting of Guaranty Building and Loan Association, Gilbert Beesemyer, president of the bank, confessed to embezzling approximately $8 million of the bank's assets.

This institution was incorporated in 1921 with $25,000 in capital stock. Beesemyer, who had some successful technical banking experience, and never had the opportunity to exercise investment or credit judgment. He has selected as directors, six young man successful in their separate business and popular in business and social circles circles, but perfectly ignorant of any banking experience from the bankers standpoint. Laws, he placed himself in a position safe from adverse criticism within his own board, the members of which looked up to him with unquestioning confidence.

In 1924, the promise of a 6% interest on deposits, and the associations imposing 12 story building at Hollywood Boulevard and Ivar Avenue, as well as the popularity of its personnel, and so built up public confidence that the guaranty Association flourished.

Depositors of the Guaranty and allied associations comprised all classes of people, but more particularly the frugal, industrious citizens of moderate means who entrusted their life savings to this substantial appearing institution. The blog staggered Hollywood, rendering many of her best citizens penniless at the time when the reserves were most needed.

At his one-day trial, Gilbert Beesemyer pleaded guilty to all counts of embezzlement, and was sentenced, seven days later, on December 26, 1930, to 10 years to 100 years in the state penitentiary at San Quintin. Convicted on 10 counts of grand theft on 31 January 1931, the court sentenced Bessemyer to from 10 to 40 years in San Quentin. After serving 9 years, twice as long as any man ever served in California for a similar offense, Beesemyer gained parole in January 1940 due to existing laws and against public outcry. Beesemyer left prison with permission to leave the state for a job in Chicago. In 1942, Bessemyer was living in Baltimore, Md. and working for the Livingston Chemical Company.  He eventually returned to Ventura County, California where he died on 22 Feb 1982 at the age of 97.  At that time of his release from prison, investors suspected Bessemyer had more than $1,000,000 in hidden assets.

Hollywood Blvd. Photo

The depression years so countless banks fail causing thousands of Americans to lose their life savings. In order to reestablish the public confidence in financial institutions, the U.S. Congress established the federal deposit insurance Corporation for the purpose of insuring savings accounts at banks. A similar federal insurance agency was created for the same insurance for savings and loan companies. 

Federal Trust & Savings Bank.

In 1922, CE Toberman founded a bank called Federal Trust & Savings Bank.  He remodeled his building on the southeast corner of Hollywood Blvd. & Highland Ave. The bank was received very well by hundreds of Hollywood residents. Later, Doberman sold the bank to the Bank of America.

Hollywood Blvd. & Cahuenga Ave photo

First Federal Savings and Loan Association

Seizing upon this new financial innovation, C. E. Toberman founded first federal savings and loan association of Hollywood. Located at 6767 Hollywood Blvd., First Federal opened its doors on July 23, 1934. Savings were deposited with the  conservatively managed Association, and plowed back into the community in the form of real estate loans.

As the Association grew, so did its needs for larger quarters. In 1959, 25 years after its founding, First Federal moved to its new 12 story office building on the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Ave.  During the building’s construction, the names of the first eight inductees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame were placed in the sidewalk.

It's the largest collection of Hollywood bank photos is on the website.

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