Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Metropolis / Snapshots from the Center of the Universe

Is That a Landmark, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Mae West's Art Deco Bower Is Making Friends in High Places

October 26, 2003|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

The jazzy red neon sign on the roof of the Ravenswood apartments in Hancock Park has been a semaphore of swellegance since 1928. In August, the city moved closer to making the building an official landmark when the Cultural Heritage Commission recommended the Ravenswood as a Historic Cultural Monument. The seven-story Art Deco hothouse at 570 N. Rossmore has kept its aura from Hollywood's golden era, when Paramount Studios was rumored to have leased apartments there. "They wanted some place close to the studio for celebrities to stay," says Jim Murrey, the building's assistant manager and a nine-year resident. "They had valet parking, a concierge, doormen, the whole thing."

A 1994 Architectural Digest article mentions former tenants Ava Gardner and Judy Garland, but the story, titled "Diamond Lil's Glittery Los Angeles Apartment," spotlights bombshell Mae West, who lived at the Ravenswood for decades. When West purred, "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" she could have added "at the Ravenswood," although there is nothing to the popular myth that she owned the building, says Murrey.

The Kor Group, which has owned the Ravenswood since 2000, has restored many features. The commission's recommendation cites definitive Art Deco elements such as the windows arranged in sunken vertical panels; the symmetrical facade and central tower; and the flat roof and parapets. Many hanging lights are original, as are the terrazzo floor in the lobby and the decorative tile in the bathrooms. The vaulted two-story lobby boasts an encouraging "car coming" sign next to its shiny copper elevator doors. "You feel like you're walking into that era," says Isabel Rosas, executive assistant with the commission. The 96-unit building's most coveted apartments are on the sixth and seventh floors, Murrey says, thanks to the panoramic view that stretches from Beverly Hills to Los Feliz.

The Ravenswood's owners consider it a crown jewel, says Murrey. The Kor Group consulted with Christy McAvoy at the Historic Resources Group on the monument application process. Ken Bernstein at the Los Angeles Conservancy says city monument status can boost a property's value, while also lowering property taxes.

The L.A. City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee is the commission recommendation's next stop before a full council vote in the near future. The signs augur well, and Murrey awards kudos to a big blond. "It's the star factor and Mae West. I'll have to give Mae credit--she draws."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|