To the editor: I find the complaints of the Los Angeles Conservancy to be quite ironic: The group argues that the former Lytton Savings building at Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards should deserve historic preservation status as a “strong example of the angular Googie design style.” (“Court OKs demolition of Hollywood building for Frank Gehry project, dealing a blow to preservationists,” March 28.)
Where were they in 1959 when Bart Lytton stripped and auctioned off all the belongings of the Garden of Allah that had been occupying that block since 1913? It could have been called a “strong example of the turn-of-the-century, pre-WWI Craftsman design style.” Not to mention, that building should have been a historic site not only for having been the home of probably more Hollywood Golden Age stars than any other place in Los Angeles, but also the putative location of the first swimming pool in L.A.
But no, “historic preservation” wasn’t even considered important then; “business redevelopment” was the catchphrase of the day, and Bart Lytton was a significant proponent. He had the Garden of Allah razed to the ground barely two months after its furnishings were auctioned, and for some unexplainable reason, his Googie savings and loan building is now considered of historic significance.
I agree that there are excellent examples of Googie architecture around the Los Angeles area worthy of preservation but I consider the former Lytton building not among those examples.
You know what will be of architectural significance worthy of historic preservation? Whatever structures Frank Gehry decides to put in place of the Lytton Building.
Heinz Obermite, West Hollywood
To the editor: The property located at 8150 Sunset Blvd. once housed a true jewel of Hollywood's golden past, the Garden of Allah hotel. The Garden, just like the Chateau Marmont across the street, was the preferred abode of movie stars during work stays in Los Angeles, and a place where stars came to play.
Lytton, the last owner of the Garden, chose to tear it down in 1959 and replace it with a strip shopping mall, as well as a structure housing his Lytton Savings and Loan. The current fight is over the removal of the Lytton building, which currently houses a branch of Chase.
It was bad enough when Lytton tore down the Garden of Allah, but to keep the Lytton Savings building — a visual monstrosity second to none — is cruel and unusual punishment.
Eric Forster, Los Angeles
To the editor: The relevant history of this site is not about the bank. It's about the Hollywood legend, the Garden of Allah, which was demolished and replaced by a bank and a strip mall with a McDonald’s.
The historic designation and preservation came about 60 years too late.