Just Above Sunset
May 7, 2006 - Notes on Hollywood History













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The shot below, for locals here, the old-timers, evokes Old Hollywood.

The roof belongs to the last remaining Victorian cottage on Hollywood Boulevard, Jane's House, built in 1903, and once used as a schoolhouse where the children of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille and all sorts of other early Hollywood moguls and stars. It sits back from the boulevard at the end of a narrow courtyard, and now it's a new trendy restaurant, Memphis (southern cooking), reviewed in the Los Angeles Times here if you'd care to drop by. The Times opens with the history, but the food sounds reasonable, and the scene impressive. How trendy is it? The supermodel Kate Moss celebrated her birthday here, and Dustin Hoffman's son Jake for now is the DJ on Tuesday nights. Whatever. Things change.

The sign in the background is on top of the Fontenoy, a tall concrete apartment building designed by the architect Leland A. Bryant in 1928, the year before he did his famous Sunset Tower over on the Sunset Strip (photos of that here and here).

Hollywood Boulevard, Jane's House

The Fontenoy has its history, as in this, from someone who was living there in 1981 –

 

Harry and Lee were two old vaudeville veterans who lived across the hall from each other, and who had a million great stories to tell about decades in the entertainment industry, from the Orpheum Circuit to Broadway, Las Vegas to USO camp shows during WWII. Harry produced the "Delmar Revels" revue in 1927, which played 112 performances at New York's Shubert Theater and introduced a young comedian named Bert Lahr to Broadway. Lee had toured extensively throughout Europe following the war, playing for kings and commoners. When I met them they were still working, in vastly diminished roles, filling in as extras on movie sets at Universal, Paramount and Columbia.

They threw legendary parties at the Fontenoy in the 1950s and 1960s, with guest lists that included Mae West, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, and Irene Ryan. Lee, who rented the larger apartment on the northwest corner of the second floor, usually played host, entertaining guests on his Steinway grand piano.

 

Ah, those were the days.

But you can still live there. It's not expensive.

The Fontenoy, Leland A. Bryant, 1928, Hollywood

The Fontenoy, Leland A. Bryant, 1928, Hollywood

The Fontenoy, Leland A. Bryant, 1928, Hollywood

The name?  See British Battles on the Battle of Fontenoy during the War of the Austrian Succession (King George's War) - 11th May 1745. It was east of the Scheldt opposite Tournai and around the villages of Fontenoy, Vezin and Saint Anthoine in southwest Belgium - the British, Hanoverians, Austrian and Dutch against the French, about fifty thousand on each side. The link has all the details, and a map of which regiment was where, and the associated paintings. The French won.

See also this from November 1998, where Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis and sometimes contributor to these pages, comments on the Eurostar rail service between London and Paris through the "chunnel." The French didn't think much of the west end of the trip ending at Waterloo Station in London, and were joking that maybe Paris' Gare du Nord, at the east end of the trip, should be renamed Fontenoy.

That has nothing to do with Hollywood, but it's amusing.

 

Oh, and next door we get Italianate –

Italianate apartment building in Hollywood...
















If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.  

There is a copyright notice at the bottom of this page, of course.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - lens AF-5 Nikor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED or AF Nikor 70-300 mm telephoto.

They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0
The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

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Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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The inclusion of any text from others is quotation for the purpose of illustration and commentary, as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law.  See the Legal Notice Regarding Fair Use for the relevant citation.
 
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