History

LAVA's 41st Sunday Salon

Join LAVA for our revived free monthly Sunday Salon series. We return to South Broadway, to the mezzanine of Les Noces du Figaro, which was recently opened by the family behind Figaro Bistro in Los Feliz. This handsome space was formerly Schaber's Cafeteria (Charles F. Plummer, 1928), and the mezzanine features wonderful views of the Los Angeles Theatre.

On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles (noon-2pm), for a structured Salon featuring formal presentations and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. If you're interested in joining LAVA as a creative contributor or an attendee, we recommend Salon attendance as an introduction to this growing community. We also recommend the eclairs.

Read about the original Sunday Salon at Clifton's Cafeteria.

Presentation One: Jean Harlow Part 2

The name resonates. Blonde Bombshell. Platinum Blonde. The labels applied by press agents during Jean Harlow's seven-year career still carry a charge seventy years later. Harlow created the mold: the first blonde sex symbol who captured the attention of a nation, then touched their hearts with her genuine warmth and candor. At a time when Harlow's star shone its brightest, Los Angeles and the movies gave birth to a district that exists as much in the mind as on the map. Hollywood historian Darrell Rooney is co-author of Harlow In Hollywood. He returns to the LAVA Sunday Salon to pick up where he left off at his January 2014 presentation, with Jean Harlow's story following the mysterious death of her husband Paul Bern.

Presentation Two: Preserving the Legacy of Wurdman & Beckett's Animal Hospital in West Hollywood

West Hollywood residents and area historians Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney of Dead History Project fell into historic preservation activism when two 110-year-old bungalows on their street were threatened with demolition. Everyone said they wouldn’t win... until they did. Recently, they went to a West Hollywood Historic Preservation Commission meeting on a whim. The Commission discussed a 1938 Wurdeman & Becket streamline moderne animal hospital and a 1959 Barry Berkus mid-century modern office building, both slated for demolition and the site for redevelopment. They were told these buildings were a lost cause. But as a little research revealed the significance of the site, they knew they would fight. Their grassroots preservation campaign has garnered significant media attention and the support of the Los Angeles Conservancy, Art Deco Society, the family of architect Welton Becket and hundreds of passionate citizens. Responding to the rising community outcry, the developer has begun suggesting ways in which the Wurdeman & Beckett structure can be integrated into a modern building. This LAVA presentation is about the process through which Kate and Krisy are tackling the biggest preservation fight of their careers, the highs and lows, and the delicate dance of politics, ego, money and information that impacts any community when developers seek to build on an historic site.

Lowriting: the Photography of Arturo Meza

Art Meza was born and raised in Los Angeles. His photography infuses elements of his daily surroundings—his love for classic car and Lowrider culture, and pride of his Chicano upbringing—to produce images with “Chicano Soul.” Art will share images from his book, Lowriting: Shots, Rides and Stories from the Chicano Soul. The book also includes essays and poetry by contributors including Luis J. Rodriguez, Luis Alberto Urrea, Lalo Alcaraz, Gustavo Arellano, and Alvaro Rodriguez.

This free program is presented by Photo Friends LAPL and generously sponsored by Christy & Stephen McAvoy. Feel free to bring your lunch.

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

Bungalows. Crime. Hollywood. Blondes. Vets. Smog. Death.

This was Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles, which resonated under deft and melancholy fits from his writer’s bow.

Join us as we go down the mean streets that shaped his fiction, and that in turn shaped his hard-boiled times, in a four hour tour of downtown, Hollywood and surrounding environs: The Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the Hotel Van Nuys, Paramount Studio’s gates, and much, much more, including a Chandler-themed gelato stop at East Hollywood cult favorite Scoops.

Through published work, private correspondence, screenplays and film adaptations, we trace Chandler’s search for meaning and his anti-hero Philip Marlowe’s struggle to not be pigeonholed or give anything less than all he has, which lead them both down the rabbit hole of isolation, depression, and drink.

Tour passengers will have the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of co-host Kim Cooper's mystery novel The Kept Girl, inspired by this tour and starring the young Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe on the trail of a cult of murderous angel worshippers.

The Real Black Dahlia crime bus tour

"This bus tour... has established itself as an L.A. classic." -The Los Angeles Times

The Black Dahlia murder in 1947 is the most compelling unsolved crime Los Angeles has ever known. What Jack the Ripper is to London, the Torso Killer to Cleveland, the Black Dahlia is to L.A. And yet unlike those other cases, the name Black Dahlia refers not to the killer, but to the victim. What was it about Elizabeth Short that keeps her the object of obsessive fascination by writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, cops and readers, more than sixty years after she was slain?

The Real Black Dahlia Crime Bus Tour seeks to answer this question by intimately exploring the last weeks of Elizabeth Short's life, asking not "who killed her?" but "who was she?"

The tour takes us from the human hustle of Main Street to the serene lobby of the Biltmore (the second-to-last place she was seen alive), to the newspaper offices and the Greyhound station where she checked her bags, and concludes at the site where her bisected body was found in Leimert Park and with a little known suspect who lived nearby.

From the few personal possessions she left behind to the friends who scarcely knew her, from the mass hysteria of the investigation with its fruitless leads, wacko suspects and false confessions, the tour reveals all that's known about this enigmatic black-haired girl who reinvented herself at whim, and shows how she came to be the unfortunate symbol of her time and place.

The Flâneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour #13

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, or login, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

Join us the latest installment of The Flaneur & The City: Broadway On My Mind walking tour series. (This tour series was originally titled Broadway Streetscape Master Plan Awareness walking tour.)  

About This Tour:

This month’s tour will be the fifth in a series of tours which focus on the architect Robert Brown Young, whose career spans the 19th & 20th centuries, the residential and commercial. His work on Broadway is the perfect introduction to understanding Young and his iconic structures.  

Our goal with these tours is to explore the history of the built environment on Broadway, while seeking to understand the scope of the work of Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan and the “Road Diet,” which has recently begun.

Press clippings: the walking tour series is featured in Mike Sonksen's KCET Departures report, "Punk Rock, Poetry, and Public Policy." 

Video from previous Broadway On My Mind walking tours: tour #1, tour #2, tour #3, tour #4, tour #5tour #7.

ABOUT THE TOUR SERIES: In July 2013, LAVA launched a series of monthly walking tours along Broadway meant to raise consciousness about the Broadway Theater and Commercial District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the pending implementation of Strategy One, Phase One of the City of Los Angeles’ Broadway Streetscape Master Plan (PDF). Each walking tour will follow and depart from the free LAVA Sunday Salon.

Stretching from 2nd Street to Olympic, the District contains the most intact collection of Beaux-Arts buildings in Los Angeles, and the largest collection of historic theaters anywhere in the United States.

As Broadway’s vast scope and scale can be overwhelming, on each walking tour we will look closely at several different historic buildings, in order to acclimatize the observer to better understand and appreciate the whole. We will also be looking at the historic streetscape, with attention paid to street lights, sidewalks (terrazzo in particular), basement hatches, sidewalk vents, glass blocks, manhole covers, granite curbs and signage.

Motivation for this tour series:

With City Council’s June 2013 approval of funding for Strategy One, Phase One of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, we believe that it is it is imperative to develop a greater public awareness and understanding of Broadway’s architectural and scenic qualities, and to bring the informed voices of the community into discussion of the proposed changes and alterations. We believe that no element of Broadway’s streetscape can be altered without causing a transformation of the whole, requiring careful consideration before any permanent or semi-permanent changes are made. Broadway’s architectural character is defined not by any single feature (uniform height limits, predominance of theaters) or single landmark building (Eastern Columbia, Bradbury Building, Los Angeles Theater), but upon the concord of all of it, and the strength of the impression which all together they provide. No feature or building is of dominant importance, but each contributes, and all are vitally fused together into our National Register landmark district. Many of the salient architectural and streetscape features which will be the focus of this tour series are proposed to be impacted by the yet-unfunded Strategy One, Phase Two of the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan. The evolving situation demands public input and public awareness. We hope that you will join us on the tour series to better understand Broadway and become an advocate for its continued preservation, stewardship and vibrancy.

LAVA's 40th Sunday Salon - LAVA Visionary of the Year Lecture

Join LAVA for our revived free monthly Sunday Salon series. We return to South Broadway, to the mezzanine of Les Noces du Figaro, which was recently opened by the family behind Figaro Bistro in Los Feliz. This handsome space was formerly Schaber's Cafeteria (Charles F. Plummer, 1928), and the mezzanine features wonderful views of the Los Angeles Theatre.

On the last Sunday of each month, LAVA welcomes interested individuals to gather in downtown Los Angeles (noon-2pm), for a structured Salon featuring formal presentations and opportunities to meet and connect with one another. If you're interested in joining LAVA as a creative contributor or an attendee, we recommend Salon attendance as an introduction to this growing community. We also recommend the eclairs.

Read about the original Sunday Salon at Clifton's Cafeteria here.

LAVA Visionary of the Year Lecture: Forgotten Artists: The Master Tailors of Hollywood's Golden Age

Who made Clark Gable look the part of a superstar? Who dressed Humphrey Bogart, the Ice Follies, and an entire generation of Filipino migrant workers? Who led Liberace from traditional white tie and tails towards outfits shimmering with Swarovksi crystals? The long-forgotten master tailors of Hollywood’s golden age, that’s who! While Tinseltown’s great dress designers — Adrian, Irene — remain well-known, the tailors whose genius rendered Fred Astaire and William Powell impossibly suave have faded into obscurity… until now. Join Los Angeles retail historian, and LAVA Visionary of the Year, Marc Chevalier, as he reveals the marvelous, surprising stories of Hollywood’s top three tailors, whose extraordinary careers rose and fell with the movie industry.

Marc's presentation will be divided into two sections, each about 45 minutes in length, with a 15 minute break in between.

The Salon will be followed by a free walking tour, The Flaneur & The City: Broadway on My Mind walking tour #13. Please visit the tour series Landing Page for videos and descriptions of past tours and the goals of the series.

Wiltern Theatre All About Tour and Reception

Please join us for our first All About at the beautiful Art Deco Wiltern Theatre. Opened in 1931, the Wiltern was threatened with demolition and was only saved because of the determination of local preservationists.

Come hear the story of the rescue and restoration, then take docent-guided tours of the entire theatre, including backstage areas not accessible to the public! We’ve been granted FULL ACCESS for this tour; don’t miss this rare opportunity!

This Tour will feature the same presentation and 4 tour loops as the day's earlier tour, and a Reception in the lobby following the tour. Special guests to be announced. Your ticket includes admission and appetizers. There will also be a cash bar. Tickets are $35 ($30 for LAHTF members, click the "Redeem Benefits" button during checkout to apply LAHTF Member Discount).

Wiltern Theatre All About Tour

 

Please join us for our first All About at the beautiful Art Deco Wiltern Theatre. Opened in 1931, it was threatened with demolition and was only saved because of the determination of local preservationists. Come hear the story of this rescue and restoration, then take docent-guided tours of the entire theatre, including backstage areas not accessible to the public! We've been granted Full Access for this tour; don't miss this rare opportunity!

The first tour is at 12:00pm. it will feature a historical slide presentation and 4 tour loops covering the entire theatre.

Tickets are $15 ($10 for LAHTF members, click the "Redeem Benefits" button during checkout to apply LAHTF Member Discount).

Of Scrap & Steel: free rooftop screening of rare 1949 color film set on Main Street, Downtown L.A.

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association is pleased to announce a free roof-top screening of a newly-discovered circa 1949 short color film of Main Street and other downtown Los Angeles locations, the Union Rescue Mission-produced Of Scrap & Steel. The screening is in conjunction with a series of downtown stories on the In SRO Land time travel blog, featuring material from the Union Rescue Mission Archives.

ABOUT THE FILM: In mid-1948 the Board of Directors of the Union Rescue Mission approved the expenditure of $5,000 to make the 30-minute film Of Scrap & Steel which portrays the redemption and good works of Arthur Hawkins, an alcoholic executive who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles and whose life was saved when he turned to the URM for help. Porter Hall (Arthur Hawkins) is one of only two actors in a film otherwise populated by real Los Angeles characters. (You may recall Hall’s performance as the pesky guy on the train in Double Indemnity.)

Of Scrap & Steel was only shown in screenings organized by the URM or related organizations, and would have been completely lost if Liz Mooradian, URM historian, had not saved a deteriorating 16mm print and had it transferred to video before it was too late. Of Scrap & Steel is just one of the remarkable artifacts discovered in the Union Rescue Mission archives and explored in the In SRO Land blog.

This entertaining and powerful short film is a compelling snapshot of life on Skid Row (Main Street) circa 1949, and a fascinating document of the important work that the URM continues to do with the most needy in the community. Although downtown Los Angeles features in numerous noir films, it is extremely rare to see color images of eastern downtown, and rarer still to see full-color live-action footage of the vibrant street scene that included rescue missions, pawn shops, amusement parlors, bars, restaurants and the ever-patrolling paddy wagon in search of drunkards to haul away to jail or County work crews.

This free rooftop screening is jointly organized by LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the In SRO Land time travel blog and the Union Rescue Mission. Seating will be provided, and attendees are encouraged to dress warmly for the cool night air.

Gourmet box dinners: “Meals with a purpose” will be available for purchase ($5, cash only), with a choice of sandwich (vegetarian, roast beef or turkey), cookie, fruit, or chips. Soft Drinks ($1, cash only). Coffee (decaf), hot tea, cold water, and fresh popcorn compliments of the URM. 100% of proceeds from your meal donation goes to the URM, and the proceeds from each dinner will feed two other people.

This screening is held in conjunction with the Skid Row Walking Tour, a separate free event beginning two hours before the screening. Separate registration for each event is required if you wish to attend both the screening and walking tour.

Nearest Metro station is Little Tokyo.

Limited free parking is available at the URM’s underground parking lot. Just tell the attendant you are there for the film. Please carpool: if each guest arrives with one other person in their car, there should be enough parking for all. Those arriving later will have to leave their keys with the parking attendant.

In addition, there will be overflow parking in the San Julian parking lot located just behind the URM, on San Julian Street between 5th & 6th Streets, on the east side of the street, adjacent to URM. Registered attendees will be able to enter the URM from the Women’s entrance on San Julian. There will be ample staff to direct you from the lot to this entrance.

In the event of rain, we will screen the film in the Chapel.

Schedule

6pm - Doors open (reserved guests check in at the main entrance and are sent up to the roof)

7pm-8pm - Box dinners available for purchase, guests can watch the sunset (7:45pm)

8pm - Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of the URM, Nathan Marsak of 1947project, Richard Schave of Esotouric, and Prof. Paul Rood of BIOLA will introduce the film in the context of the neighborhood’s history, and their work on the In SRO Land time travel blog, and a brief introduction to the life and legacy of the URM‘s founder, Lyman Stewart.

8:30pm - Film screening

9pm - Q & A

9:30pm - Event ends

Union Rescue Mission Walking Tour: 123 years on Skid Row

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.

ABOUT THIS EVENT:

Please join Nathan Marsak of 1947project, Richard Schave of Esotouric, Prof. Paul Rood of BIOLA and Rev. Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission (URM) for a 90-minute walking tour along the historic paths that have delineated Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. This tour derives from the ongoing 1947project In SRO Land blog series that uses the archives of the URM (founded 1891) as a tool for exploring the social and architectural history of the forgotten people and places of Downtown Los Angeles. 

The tour begins with a survey of the early history of the outreach by the URM through its gospel wagon and at two now-lost buildings: the original home at 145 N. Main (now City Hall Lawn) and the long-time location at 226 S. Main (now a parking lot next to the former St. Vibiana’s Cathedral).

The main themes will be the evolution of public policy on Skid Row from the private philanthropy of Lyman Stewart to today’s Continuum of Care, the transformative work of the URM, and the architectural history of the neighborhood.

The route will include Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets (for a then/now comparison of the surviving and demolished locations featured in the 1949 URM-financed short film Of Scrap & Steel, which will be screened later in the evening in a free event that requires a separate reservation). At 3rd and San Pedro Streets we will discuss the Azusa Street Revival, a transformative event in the spiritual history of Los Angeles and the West. During the walk back to the current home of the URM, Rev. Andy Bales will talk about issues and challenges facing the neighborhood and the URM today. 

The rendezvous point for the tour is the URM‘s headquarters at at 6th and San Pedro Streets. A free shuttle bus will take tour attendees to 2nd and Main Streets, where the walking tour begins. Registration is required, and each attendee must register separately, to ensure sufficient seating on the shuttle bus.

Parking is available at the URM’s underground parking lot for registered attendees. Just tell the attendent you are there for the walking tour. If everyone attending arrives with one other person in their car, there should be enough parking for all. Those arriving latter will have to leave their keys with the parking attendent.  

Nearest Metro station is Little Tokyo.