Sunday, January 13, 2013

Four-point-two: Some Hotel Glendale History, (folklore).

The original dance floor in the Bordeaux Room.
Before the history lesson of the Hotel's supposedly egregious design flaws, and before the history lesson of the still existent original dance floor in The Bordeaux Room,  Vern announced the history lesson that The Cave environ was once a speakeasy. People who have lived here for any amount of time or who have any nostalgia for here will announce, "This was a speakeasy, you know."   They say it nonchalantly, with great matter-of-factness, and a hint of urgency. That's to insure you believe them.

Prohibition began January 17, 1920. The first articles written about what would become The Hotel Glendale were dated December 2, 1921, and in this article the basement and first two floors were already ready for construction crews.

 April, 1923 (*click on pictures to enlarge*)The highlighted paragraph in the left column talks about how just the previous night, the Hotel building committee was satisfied with the architect's initial drawings.  The highlighted column on the right states that the dining room will be at the end of the first floor.

October 1924. The note in black marker is on the original.  Apparently someone else noticed an inconsistency with what's come to be The Doom of The Hotel Glendale: there are to be two, not one elevator.  However, we're also seeing the dining room will now be located in the basement along with game rooms and the "social room," the room with the infamous dance floor. 

So the two major bits of egregious failure are two items once structuraly sound and intact but then suddenly shifted or missing. 

July 1925.  After many attempts and failures to secure funds for the project, The Hotel Glendale opens....with the restaurant in the basement. 'Ultra Modern in every sense,' I believe Freud invented claustrophobia around 1923

Theory, 2013Ambrosini, Ingledue and associates, Lindley and Selkirk; every written account of their building calls it a monumental failure but then tries to redeem the dumpfest by ending it with, "the hotel nevertheless indicated the spirit of enthusiasm and willingness to move ahead which was prevalent among th businessmen of that period in the city's growth."  Ouch, talk about the booby prize. 

Try this, naysayers. A bunch of guys and a few of the ladies look at what's going on around them - trend, fashion, future, economy, possibility, and finally reality. They set out to build the biggest, most modern accommodations around.  Glendale is booming, there's tons of transportation in the front yard, it's DTLA adjacent, unobstructed views of the Verdugos, and there will be dining rooms, game rooms and social rooms in this very modern and vibrant venture.  Every Glendale historian wants you to believe that every one of these professional, accomplished leaders, builders and designers just - oops, dropped the ball.  

It's prohibition, and after financial struggles just to get the place built, the pressure is a little bit tighter to make it work.  The dining room on the first floor gets switched to the basement, as do all the social venues, a labyrinth of passageways encased in a thick concrete, low ceilings and no windows.  Because let's be honest, afternoon tea and club soda will not launch a successful modern hotel. 

But it wasn't a successful hotel, so what went wrong? Can an elevator really kill a hotel? Or a dungeon eatery? Sadly, in the one-dimensional story of failure and two mere reasons there-in, there is precious little information on what else might have contributed to the hotel's lackluster performance.  Did something change economically? Was marketing a factor? Did Glendale take an unexpected turn?  

The Ingledue family managed the building until 1928 and then it went through a series of owners. (see here.) 
Depression was in 1929 and Prohibition would be repealed in 1933.  

And like any respectable speakeasy would command, there is little to indicate what other goings on might have been...going on ...during all that time...down here in this Cave.   

Part 4.3, the conclusion. Stay tuned!