Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You Are Cordially Invited to The Ambassador Hotel's Wake

UPDATE: New plans! Next Tuesday's wake has been canceled. Instead, Ken Bernstein of the L.A. Conservancy contacted me this afternoon to let me know that the organization was planning its own Ambassador hotel tribute -- also at the HMS Bounty -- the week after ours. As a result, we're going to merge events. Information to come... hang tight!

The Ambassador Hotel, 1921-2005

Come join Franklin Avenue and The Ambassador's Last Stand as we have a few drinks in the memory of the late, lamented Ambassador!

WHAT: Franklin Avenue and The Ambassador's Last Stand present The Ambassador Hotel's Wake


WHERE: The HMS Bounty
3357 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(across from the Ambassador site)

WHY: To celebrate Los Angeles history and the demise of a key historical building. And to meet other bloggers, blog readers, L.A. enthusiasts and freaks.

The HMS Bounty has plenty of its own history. Operating under its present name since 1962, the HMS Bounty remains a favorite neighborhood watering hole. According to its website, it's rumored Sirhan Sirhan ate at the Bounty shortly before the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

If you're interested, please email us at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this site. I only discovered it recently and am touched by the way you have profiled the Hotel. I spent 12 Years there (1990-2002) managing the site during the litigation with LAUSD and now live in England. There is not enough space here to tell the story of how things turned out the way they did.

I miss the crusty old place, the crusty cats, and the lovely staff. Please give my regards to all at the Bounty. Please also raise a glass to those Ambassador Crew who are no with us such as Jack, Jonsey and the rest.


10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the L A Conservancy had done its job, there wouldn't be any need for a wake. The Ambassador should have been declared a historical landmark many years ago. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they aren't planning on making YOUR wake a fundraiser for themselves! I live just a couple of blocks from HMS, but I'm going to pass on this one. You should not have agreed to share with them. Have fun anyway. Thanks for the invite.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the urge to blame someone for this tragedy but the LA Conservancy is not where you should look. The decision to demolish the Ambassador came from Roy Romer and the LAUSD board. Period. The lack of official landmark designation was NOT the cause of it's loss.

There are not very many tools available to preservationists in Los Angeles. The best you have is the California Environmental Quality Act. Here, read about CEQA here:

The Environmental Impact Report for the Ambassador states that it was, indeed, a historical resource - that is EXACTLY the same response a landmark designation would have triggered under CEQA. The "lead agency" makes the final decision - in this case LAUSD. They "mitigated" the problem by storing the pantry and taking photographs. The Conservancy made compelling points that the EIR was flawed, but LAUSD adopted it anyway. Here, read the LAC position:

You can demolish the cathedrals and the missions and the city hall and any landmark you want if you simply wait long enough and/or mitigate it. There are many designated landmarks which are no longer with us. The Walt Disney Studio in Silver Lake, the Masquers Club, Sunset Plaza Apartments, the Philharmonic Hall downtown, Lincoln Park Carousel are all designated city monuments - and they are all gone.

What it often comes down to is negotiation. In the early 1990s the Conservancy decided it was best to hold a landmark nomination in exchange for participating in negotiations. That LAUSD would not speculatively demolish the site without an approved replacement. That kept it standing during the long and intense negotiations that the Conservancy eventually lost. The Conservancy has a very small staff and they were ALL working to save the Ambassador.

I don't think the Conservancy is 100% on it 100% of the time, but who else is out there working for ALL of Los Angeles? Who is doing a better job?

ANYBODY can submit a landmark nomination. ANY PRIVATE CITIZEN. Go ahead. There are dozens and dozens of important buildings endangered at all times. Right now, CBS Columbia Square, the Hollywood Palladium and Tail 'o the Pup (formerly in West Hollywood) are all on the hit list - and NONE of them are designated landmarks.

Feel free to pitch in:

Thank you.

-exhausted preservation volunteer

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is painful to see a landmark vanish, not least because it reminds us of our own mortality. But once the tears have dried, vision becomes clearer.

In retrospect, The Ambassador Hotel was more significant for its association with celebrities and movie-making than for the quality of its architecture. Was it Art Deco? Modern? Or Spanish Mission? Actually, it was a jumble of all three (and perhaps more). The hotel was grand enough to impress in its time, particularly in a built environment where anything goes, but ultimately it was a mongrel.

Compare it to the venerable Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) in St. Augustine, Florida, and The Ambassador Hotel fades immediately to a footnote. And compared to the genuine architectural masterpieces of Los Angeles, including works by Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra, The Ambassador Hotel was just an A-List Holiday Inn. Preservationists in Los Angeles should take comfort that far better buildings remain.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you have a mongrel put down just because it isn't pure bred??? I think it's a tragic loss & happening far too often, buildings steeped in as much history as The Ambassador Hotel should surely be preserved for future generations!!

8:46 AM  
Anonymous David Lee said...

I stayed at the Ambassador hotel my first trip to Los Angeles and I was so impressed. The staff was friendly,the price was right,and you could not ask for a better location on Beverly Hills.I will be back.

5:56 AM  

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