Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pantages Home, Lafayette Park

This is the Lafayette Park mansion that theater owner Alexander Pantages built for himself in the early part of the 20th century. It sits on the corner of Buckingham Road and Washington Blvd. Not sure when it was built--my channel to Proquest is down right now. Boo!

And below is the biggest ficus tree ever--I think it's a ficus. Just beyond it is Washington. Was it there since Pantages' day? Maybe he planted it himself? Quien sabe?

Pantages was living here in 1920 according to census records; by 1930 the owner of record was Edward Cline--which makes sense, because by 1930, Pantages had been ruined--some say by the machinations of Joseph Kennedy.

Kennedy's motivation?

Well, if he was the man who destroyed Pantages' health and reputation, as well as forcing him to liquidate his homes and theaters to defend himself against rape charges, Kennedy benefitted because he bought many of Pantages' theaters for pennies on the dollar.

Here's 7 things you may not have known about Alexander Pantages:

  • His given name was Pericles. He starated calling himself Alexander after hearing about A the Great.

  • He's buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, according to Find-a-Grave.

  • He went to the Klondike in search of gold in the late 1890s and ended up becoming a theatrical producer while working in Dawson, first producing shows in restaurants and then in a real theater.

  • Pantages moved to Seattle in 1902 and began building vaudeville theaters up and down the Pacific coast. At one time, he owned 30 outright and controlled another 42 theaters. For over 20 years, he WAS vaudeville--at least out west.

  • By the time OUR Pantages Theater was finished in 1930, the man and his fortune had been drained and destroyed by sensational rape charges. Pantages was found guilty in 1929, got a retrial, and was found innocent in 1931.

  • The stock market collapse finished him off. Our Pantaages Theater was originally planned as a twelve-story building, but construction had barely started when Wall Street Laid an Egg (as Variety put it.)

  • Some Pantages Theaters were sold off in late 1929; ours was sold to Fox West Coast Theaters in 1932.

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