Hollywood Hotel


In 1901, the Los Angeles Pacific Boulevard and Development Company was incorporated and stock distributed in $1,000 allotments to the principal financiers of Los Angeles. Among the many investors were such notables as Harrison Gray Otis, editor of the Los Angeles Times: B.J. Whitley, and George W..Hoover. with $186,000 paid in capital stock, they bought from Henry Hancock's widow, Mrs. Ida Hancock, for $18,000, the sixty acres of the Rancho La Brea north of Prospect Avenue (Hollywood Boulevard), from the west line of Whitley Avenue running north to Cahuenga Avenue and following Cahuenga to the present Highland Avenue to a sycamore tree a little north of the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl, thence southwest to Highland Avenue and south on Highland to Prospect Avenue. From Elijah Carson, they purchased the land north of Prospect Avenue between Highland Avenue and a line midway between Sycamore Avenue and Bl Cerrito Place. While the Los Angeles Pacific Boulevard Develoment Company was promoting their development, Mrs. Daeida Beveridge was actively building a business center at Prospect and Cahuenga Avenues. Thus the village was divided into two ambitious business centers connected by a strip of a half mile of territory through which ran the only common carrier of the town, the streetcar. Mr. Hoover completed the first unit of twenty five rooms of the Hollywood Hotel in February, 1903. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hoover sold the property to Martha Stewart and Mrs. M.J. Anderson, who very capably operated the hotel until May, 1904, when they deeded it to the Hollywood Hotel Company for $46,000. One of the larger stockholders of the newly formed company was Myra Hershey, a wealthy member of the Pennsylvania chocolate candy bar family. She took over the management of the hotel and in April, 1905, an additional fifty rooms were constructed. By 1907, Miss Hershey had acquired all the stock of the Hollywood Hotel Company, who in turn placed the deed in her name. A few months later, in 1908, she added an additional fifty rooms, bringing the total number to 125. During the ensuing years, the hotel became the social center of Hollywood. Stars of the silent films romped and romanced in its Dining Room of the Stars‘. The hotel register boasted of such celebrities as Dustin and William Farnum, Douglas Fairbanks, Anita Stewart, Lon Chaney, Pola Negri, Norma Shearer, and scores of others. Rudolph Valentino, who could cause a regiment of women to swoon with the flicker of an eyelash, had to show his marriage license before he could carry his first bride, Jean Acker, to their mystical chamber. Many of the great silent stars made their home at the hotel. They attended the celebrated weekly dances held each Thursday in the crystal chandaliered ballroom. Gold stars were painted on the ceiling to designate those who regularly dined there. It was at the Hollywood Hotel, in 1909, that Carrie Jacobs Bond wrote her famous song, "The End of a Perfect Day". . Aside from being famous in movietown, it became almost a national shrine when movie columnist, Louella Parsons, put film stars on the radio for the first time and announced, "This is Louella Parsons broadcasting from the Hollywood Hotel‘. In 1938, celebrities from all over the country arrived at.the hotel to attend a gala party to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the world-famous hotel. The list of guests read like the "Who's Who“ of the entertainment industry. They dined, danced and reminisced of the "good ol‘ days". When Miss Hershey passed away in 1930, she left the hotel to her heirs, who later sold it to C.E. Toberman (one of the founders of the Hollywood Bowl and developer of Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Egyptian Theater )  in 1947. Concurrently, he deeded it to his grown children, Homer Toberman, Jeanette Fletcher, and Catherine Torrence. They wanted to tear it down and redevelop the block, but were halted because of World War II, having to wait until the release of building materials. By the 1950s, the hotel was terribly run down and faded, only a relic of its former glory. The owners were adamant that renovating and restoring the property was out of the question. In November, 1955, the southeast portion of the property was sold to First Federal Savings and Loan of Hollywood. In August, 1956, the old Hollywood Hotel was razed and a new twelve story office building was erected on the northwest corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland. The remainder of the Hollywood Hotel property was was to be developed into a large shopping center and hotel. Unfortunately, this development never materialized. In 1998, the entire former Hollywood Hotel property was sold to Trizec Properties who razed the First Federal building and built the Hollywood and Highland Center. In 2001, the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, which includes the Kodak Theatre, the "official" home of the Academy Awards, was opened.

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