Saturday, January 12, 2013

Four-point-one: Some Hotel Glendale History, (facts)

(*click on images to enlarge*)

 I went to the library today.  These are the books about Glendale history.  There are four.
They all say the same thing and it is uniformly expressed: what a miserable failure The Hotel Glendale was. And for this miserable failure they also uniformly state the same basic reason (From the Glendale Historical Society website:) "Originally conceived by local developer Charles Ingledue as a hotel-apartment complex, the venture was a commercial and design failure, with no freight elevator and a restaurant in the basement."

(This failed basement, I remind you, is where The Cave and its Magnificent Troglodyte now reside.  I mean The Magnificent Cave and its humble troglodyte.)

By 1920, 40 million Americans were going to the movies each week.  The industry was firmly planted in Southern California, water arrived,  and the push was on to promote real estate development in the vast, open west.  The Hollywoodland sign, built by LA Times publisher Harry Chandler as a real estate billboard, was up in 1923, only two years prior to the opening of the Hotel Glendale.

Most of the stuff you're about to read is from this 1994 document, the application for the Hotel Glendale's  Historical Registration.  Fascinating read.
This is the Glendale Hotel, not to be confused with our current Hotel Glendale.  The Glendale Hotel was across the street from us, now occupied by city hall. Southern California real estate developers would build these things near newly established rail lines to attract settlement in a new community.  Most, like this one, were built 1885 - 1888.  But the
late 1880's into the early 1890's was an economic downturn for this area (for reasons I don't know) and this accounted for the failure and eventual demolition of the Glendale Hotel.

 (side note.  If so inclined, you can read here about how Walt Disney Imagineering, located in Glendale,  may have been inspired by the Glendale Hotel while designing their Hong Kong Disneyland Mystic Manor, pictured left.

 Between 1920 and 1924, another boon kicked in (for reasons I don't know) and Glendale's population went from 13, 756 to 42, 345, a 207% increase. Many magazine and newspaper articles cited Glendale as the fastest growing city in America. The Broadway/Glendale intersection was then the center of Glendale activity and had three train lines and three bus lines connecting it to Los Angeles. (that last one is from Glendale Evening News, 10/31/24) 

This corner was ripe for failure.  I mean vision. 

December, 1921.  This is a first rendering of what was then to be called the Ambrosini Hotel.   Though work on the hotel began with Anthony Ambrosini, he was unable to secure the necessary funding to complete it opening the door to other options.

 March, 1923.   It is announced Charles Ingledue, the fox in the middle there, and his associates exercise their first options on the Hotel.  Mr. Ingledue operated Glendale's first grocery store before later moving onto real estate, in addition to many other influences on the growth of Glendale.

The architects of the Hotel were Arthur G. Lindley, architectural engineer, and Charles R. Selkirk, associate architect.

Mr. Lindley designed three other prominent Glendale landmarks:  the  First Methodist Church, the Masonic Temple, and the facade for the Alex Theater - not to mention his many designs in Culver City and several other communities.

So, the question: How can a perfect idea in a perfect location in a booming city designed by accomplished architects be deemed such a monumental failure by everyone? wasn't actually a failure at all.  The mystery deepens in 4.2.  Stay tuned!