Sunday, January 4, 2009

What Went Before? 3634-3636 Beverly Blvd

This 13-story building began life in 1928 as the American Storage Building. In addition to storage units, the Bud Murray School for Stage and Lewis S. Hart Auctioneer were also early tenants of the building. However most of the fun was being had on the 13th floor. Longtime cafe man E.W. 'Curley' Bordwell opened the Roof Garden in September 1928, a 'nite club de luxe' which featured dancing to the sounds of George Redman's Famous "Roof Garden Orchestra". They were apparently so famous that by early October a remote controlled broadcasting station operated by KMTR had been installed and George Redman's jazz orchestra could be heard nightly on KMTR from 10pm to 11pm. Curley's place must have been swinging during daylight hours as well - Chris Mann & His Roof Garden Melody Boys were broadcast live daily from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

Curley and his landlord had a quick falling out and by December 22, 1928 the Roof Garden had given way to 'Thirteenth Heaven', a night club with a rip-snorting theme. The elevator to the club was manned by 'St. Peter', the waiters sported wings and the musicians and attendants wore clothes 'intended to produce a spiritual illusion.' Curley didn't take this lying down and sued the American Storage Building owners for being wrongfully ejected from a cafe that he equipped and opened himself.

Perhaps it was the heavenly theme or perhaps it was the lawsuit but 'Thirteenth Heaven' didn't even make it to it's first anniversary. The Roof Garden Cafe was re-opened in late September 1929... without Curley.

By 1931 the 'Los Angeles Press Club' moved into the building and began having problems of their own. Their biggest problem was getting caught brewing beer during Prohibition. The 'Los Angeles Press Club' was raided March 18, 1931. Dry agents discovered a complete beer plant, 21 twelve-gallon crocks of beer mash, 203 bottles of beer - ninety of which were on ice (for the members no doubt).

The 41 Club (see the previous entry for their location at 833 S. Spring) took up residence briefly in late 1931 before making the move to Spring Street. They too were raided, and approximately $10,000 worth of liquor was found in secret compartments (comparable to $139,000 in 2008). It took the Feds a year to prosecute those involved and auction off the furnishings of the club.

By the mid-1940s the building held various military organizations such as the Air Technical Service Command Headquarters and the War Assets Administration. For many years after the war it was also the headquarters for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company. It's pretty quiet around there today....