(Site of) Franklin Garden Apartments
1920 – L.H. Baldwin
6917-6933 Franklin Avenue – map
Can any of you out there in Big Orange Landmarksland get your mitts on a street-level photograph of the good old Franklin Garden Apartments? I’ve gone to all the usual suspects and then some for just one good picture, but I’ve come up tragically empty when it comes to finding anything other than overhead shots. If you have a photo, or know of one, please give me the heads up, through comments or emailing me. It sure would be a shame if there’s no better record of HCM No. 192, gone for thirty years now.
The Franklin Garden Apartments were built in Hollywood in 1920. Designed by L.H. Baldwin, the building, according to the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, was “an outstanding example of early California Spanish architecture, incorporating beautiful landscaping.”
Tom Glover, Sr, owner of much of the hill off Franklin including the apartment building, wanted to accommodate Milt Larsen, the man who founded the Magic Castle (HCM No. 406) and was leasing the Castle’s property next door. Simply, Larsen (most famous for serving as technical consultant on 1971’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks) wanted the decaying Franklin Garden’s land for a parking lot. Glover, a member of the Hollywood Revitalization Committee, issued eviction notices to tenants in March 1978, and obtained a demolition permit. In order to at least slow down the razing process, a group of preservationists and renters petitioned the city to declare the apartment building an official landmark. After being presented a slideshow featuring shots of the building’s “stone fireplaces, plaster molding, wrought-iron fixtures, open-beam ceilings, tile roofs” (where are those pictures?), the Cultural Heritage Commission was convinced the semi-decrepit Franklin Garden Apartments were worth saving. After the designation, Glover returned the demo permit but began lobbying hard for again getting the approval to remove the run-down, nearly sixty-year-old building. He went so far as to photograph other, similar period buildings to prove Franklin Garden was neither distinctive architecturally nor worth saving. He won, and another demolition permit was issued in July 1978, just a month after designation.
Where the Franklin Garden Apartments stood for fifty-eight years.
Why were the Franklin Garden Apartments allowed to deteriorate so much in the first place? Well, in the early 1970s, the city announced plans to widen Franklin Avenue, and, as destruction was always right around the proverbial corner, Glover began to rent the future landmark’s units “as-is” at low rents on a month-to-month basis. By the time those widening plans were tossed in 1977, the building had warranted repairs both major and minor.
While I pulled the black and white photo above from the city’s Department of City Planning website, it originally accompanied a Los Angeles Times piece on the landmark’s imminent demise in 1978 (here, it looks like a scan). It was taken by Len Lehman. To see a similar view, post-apartments, click here.
And, in closing, a picture of the parking lot today. That’s the Magic Castle in the background, left.
Hendrix, Kathleen “Presto! An Apartment’s Vanishing Act” The Los Angeles Times; Jun 21, 1978, p. H1
Up next: Pantages Theatre