Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Alexandria Hotel...104 and Still Solid

...though she's had some work.

This is in no way an ad for the micro-loft development that now occupies the Alexandria, though as it resulted from $14 million in renovations, I'm glad of that usage. And the loft website does hint at the hotel's history, with black-and-whites of famous movie stars.

Nope, this post stems from the fact that I found a great book--Out With the Stars: Hollywood Nightlife in the Golden Era,by Jim Heimann--that tracks movie-star hangouts over the years. And from 1909, when the Alexandria was three years young, this was where the film producers and moguls met in the afternoon. According to Charlie Chaplin, who once lived there, the lobby's thick carpet was nicknamed the "million dollar carpet" because of the astronomical amounts of money discussed on it.

The carpet wasn't the only fancy appointment. I found a 1910 Los Angeles Times article titled  "The Looting of Europe"--a report on the return of the hotel's assistant manager after four months abroad. He brought back cases of valuable wine, vases owned by Napoleon, and antique pottery, silver, Persian and Turkish rugs, glassware, and display baskets.

These two photos at left are from the Los Angeles Public Library's online photo collection, and show the hotel site in 1905--with a big ol' pepper tree being removed in advance of construction at Spring and Fifth Street. Big Orange Landmarks, (in an article which celebrates the Hotel's Palm Court) id's this photo as turning the first shovelful of dirt over. That was done by the child, Albert Constant Bilicky. His Papa was one of the partners building the hotel, the firm of Bilicke and Rowan Fireproof Hotel Building Company. Nice, clear name.

Later that same year, the hotel is shown under construction with scaffolding. The library even has pictures of Al Levy's Oyster House, which stood on that corner before 1905.

The Hotel's bar offered free sandwiches with cocktails, and actors were as hungry in 1909 as they are now--another reason the place became a watering hole for the movie business.

According to my Hollywood night-life book and an article on the hotel by Bryant Arnett, in this hotel:

  • Rudolf Valentino hung out in 1918, making contacts that led to his first few roles,

  • Gloria Swanson was introduced to Herbert Somborn,who would open the Brown Derby Restaurant. He would also marry Ms. Swanson--in a private suite at the Alexandria.

  • United Artists was concieved in 1919 (between Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith)

In addition to Chaplin, Jack Warner lived at the Alexandria for years. Presidents (Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson) were guests, along with dignitaries such as Winston Churchill. Movies like Se7en, Spiderman 3, Dreamgirls, and more were filmed here--even some from the silent era (thank you, IMDB).  Lenny Kravitz, Christina Aquilera, Adam Lambert and others have shot music videos at the Alexandria Hotel. And now it features low-income micro-lofts, proving that one can be low-income in real style.

This last picture from the Library shows the dining room of the Hotel Alexandria, back in the day. It isn't dated, and it is not the famous Palm Court. (you'll have to go to the Big Orange site to learn about that.)

3 comments:

clapperboard said...

Hello,
Hollywood was once the mecca of film and television production, today most major studios and television networks have moved out of Hollywood to build expansive studio back lots where land was more accessible in all areas of Los Angeles.

ChloƩ Mae said...

Thanks for the interesting article! We were married in one of the ballrooms at the Alexandria earlier this year :)

Vix said...

Thank you both for checking in. The Alexandria sounds like a great venue for a wedding!