Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ambassador Cam, #31: Cocoanut Grooves No More

(Pic by LAist's Carolyn Kellogg)

Like I mentioned in my previous Ambassador Cam post, the LAUSD sure has a funny way of "preserving" the Ambassador Hotel's Cocoanut Grove (which, we've mentioned before was bastardized so much in the 1970s that I'm not sure it's worth saving anyway). As you can see in this shot and the previous one, the Cocoanut Grove has been completely gutted and stripped. Not much left besides the four walls -- well, make that two walls, as the front and back sides have been torn off (yes, you can see right through).

LA Observed first reported on Friday that even the Cocoanut Grove's distinguishing characteristic -- its front entrance -- was demolished:

Staffers at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles—in the office building at 3424 Wilshire—just heard a loud crash outside. They ran to the window and saw that a crane had torn the front off the old Cocoanut Grove, the last part of the Ambassador Hotel still standing. An email concludes: "Gee, not much left to preserve now."

I decided to call the LAUSD Friday to ask them about it -- and they're still sticking to the company line, that the Cocoanut Grove (as well as the Paul Williams-designed coffee shop underneath) is being preseved.

LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Johnson told me : "The entire structure is still standing. We're not tearing it down. It will be a part of the school's new auditorium."

Uh, Shannon, you might want to drive down Wilshire and take a look for yourself. Johnson tells us that the demolition will continue through mid-March.

(Another shot by Carolyn)

Mike's dark pic (sorry, it was nighttime) of the Ambassador Hotel remains, 2/10/06, 6:55 p.m.


Blogger jay at 35.5 said...

So what was the point in "saving" the Cocoanut Grove if they were going to tear most of it down and gut it again? I would have thought they would have left this part alone until they started to remodel it but no all that is left is 2 walls and probaby nothing inside..

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Now, are those windows in the front new construction...or are those the original windows that once graced the front of the Grove? I guess they could have been covered by the new walls inside the outer lobby (when you first come up the stairs). Angry though I may be at the LAUSD for everything they've done, I have to say...if I had bought the Ambassador, and I knew its originial windows were still there uner the 70s remodel, I would have torn it off too.
Oh, I still hate the LAUSD. Just wanted to add that.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the whole point of saving the Grove was to refurbish the exterior back to the way it was originally. With the latest demolition, it seems like they're doing just that.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

The Grove had already been remodeled in the 70's - it was no longer the Grove of old, so I don't feel so bad about that being gone. I am just sad the whole building is gone. I went by there the other day, and was shocked to see just grass where palm trees and beautiful little bungalows had once stood....

10:09 PM  
Blogger Pat Greenwood said...

Thank you for your site! What memories! My first visit to LA was as a truck-driver. 'didn't stay at the Ambassador then. Then I went to law school and a few years later the Ambassador was my favorite place to stay. My boss tipped me off to stay in the Bungalows -- the first night there Norm and I sat on the west-facing patio at twilight partaking of a six of Coors.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found this online...a pic of the original Cocoanut Grove exterior.

9:14 PM  

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