Two Stone Gates
Beachwood Drive at Belden Drive – map
These two stone monuments form the entryway to what was the snazzy, 500-acre real estate development known as Hollywoodland.
The original plan in the early 1920s had the development staked out on part of the rancho owned by brothers-in-law E.P. Clark and General M.H. Sherman (the Sherman of Sherman Oaks), bought at the start of the century and situated on the southern slope of Mt Lee. It was to cover “a mile square at the head of Beachwood Drive, between Western avenue and Vine street, and extending to the crest of the range.” Its main corridor would be Beachwood Drive. (1929’s stock market crash would later scale back those plans more than a little.)
The development of the development was overseen by the Title Insurance and Trust Company, a syndicate of five men: Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler; developers Sydney Woodruff and Tracy E. Shoults; and Sherman and Clark.
According to a Los Angeles Times article from April 1, 1923, published after subdivison plans were already completed and work had recently begun, the “engineering work is in charge of the Engineering Service Company, and the construction work will be done by the Western Construction Company”.
Woodruff and Shoults hired John DeLario as lead architect. Sticking to four approved architectural styles (French Normandy, English-Tudor, Mediterranean Revival, and Spanish Revival), he wound up designing a bunch of homes for the community, including Castillo de Lago, in which Bugsy Siegel later speakeasied and Madonna later vogued.
Poor Shoults never got to see Hollywoodland beyond its initial stages – he dropped dead in his office on July 6, 1923.
Vehicleless pictures of the gates are hard to capture. There was a steady convoy of SUVs that passed by when I was there. This is looking south towards the back of the gates.
Oh. Getting back to the monuments. Stonemakers from Europe – probably Italy – built several things for Hollywoodland besides these landmark gates, including retaining walls and stairways around Beachwood Canyon. The original plan had Hollywoodland a gated community, with a guard on duty for twelve hours beginning at 6:30 p.m., but that never materialized.
By the way, as L.A. Historic-Cultural Monument No. 111, the Hollywoodland/Hollywood sign gets its own post.
You can find lots of information about Hollywoodland on the web, like here and here. However, the real definitive history, at least pictorially, is Greg Williams’s out-of-print The Story of Hollywoodland, published in 1992 by Papavasilopoulos Press and pictured below. See if you can find it.
Up next: Drum Barracks and Officers Quarters