Film fans are understandably outraged that a historic film studio in West Hollywood that dates back to the silent era — and where stars Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable worked — is set to be razed by its new owners.
The studio has had many names over the years, including the United Artists Studio, Samuel Goldwyn Studio and Warner Hollywood Studio, but is now known simply as The Lot.
Its new owner, CIM Group, intends to raze several older wooden office buildings and sound-dubbing stages and replace them with glass-and-steel structures that will be as high as six stories, the LA Times reports.
The first phase would involve the demolition of the studio’s Pickford Building — built in 1927 and remodeled in 1936 — and its Goldwyn Building, which was built in 1932 and is used for sound editing. Next on the chopping block: the studio’s Writers Building, Fairbanks Building and Editorial Building and a row of ivy-covered production offices along Santa Monica Boulevard.
“A lot of people have a lot of affection for the place,” Doug Haines, a film editor who has worked on movies there for the past 20 years, told the Times. “You really had a sense of history when you worked there. Another glass building — that certainly says ‘Old Hollywood,’ doesn’t it?”
The studio was built in 1919 by silent-movie maker Jesse Hampton, who then sold the lot to married silent superstars, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. It changed names again when the pair teamed up with Chaplin and director D.W. Griffith to form United Artists.
According to legend, a tunnel under Formosa Ave connected to the Formosa Cafe across the street so that so that stars like Errol Flynn could grab a drink without being pestered by fans. Photos of the many stars who frequented the place, like Robert Mitchum, still hang on the wall of the Formosa.
Another iconic Hollywood moment might be lost if the studio is torn down: One studio building was the site where Harrison Ford, who was working as a studio carpenter, was “discovered” by director George Lucas.
The studio has a sign calling it a “Potential Cultural Resource,” but is not an official historical landmark, apparently. The LA Conservancy and other preservation groups are now looking into what can be done to save the old studio, Curbed reports.
A rally to save the studio is planned for Sunday, April 1, starting at 1 p.m. at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Formosa Ave.
For more information, see the Save the Pickfair Studios website.