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History & Preservation

Iconic Cat & Fiddle Building is Now a Historic-Cultural Monument



LOS ANGELES — On Tuesday, November 5th, Housing Is A Human Right, the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), successfully led the charge at Los Angeles City Council to designate The Fred C. Thomson Building at 6536 Sunset Blvd., a Historic-Cultural Monument.

Commissioned by a Hollywood star, occupied by the head of Costume Design for Paramount Studios, home of “ The Charlie McCarthy Show” and Edgar Bergen, a major star of radio and television, it was then eventually purchased by a couple of rock and rollers who turned it into an icon of Hollywood nightlife for decades.

The building is most iconic as the longtime home of the Cat & Fiddle Restaurant & Pub, a rock and roll watering hole, and a cherished Hollywood institution. The pub occupied the space from 1985 to 2014, until gentrification and a steep rent increase forced it to move.

The Cat and Fiddle was founded by Kim and Paula Gardner. Kim was the bassist for the British Invasion rock bands, the Birds and Creation before forming Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. He also played bass with Eric Clapton.

Celebrities such as Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Christopher Lloyd, Drew Barrymore and Morrissey were among those that were regularly spotted at the Cat.

The Fred C. Thomson Building was designed by Henry L. Gogerty and Carl Jules Weyl (an Academy Award Winner). Built in 1927, the brick and stucco building with a gable roof, designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style typical to Southern California, is classic Hollywood, par excellence.

The building was originally commissioned by the silent film cowboy star, Fred C. Thomson. Shortly after its construction, it was bought by Edgar Bergen, a star of Vaudeville, radio, and television, on Nov. 10, 1945, who built a state-of-the-art radio studio in it, which he used to broadcast “The Charlie McCarthy Show” nationwide for CBS.

The building also housed Travis Benton’s studio and store. Benton, the head of Paramount Studios’ Costume Department, was a celebrated designer who worked with the likes of Greta Garbo.

The building’s most recent occupant was the restaurant, The Hearth and Hound, whose partner founder, April Bloomfield, is a celebrated chef.

Housing Is A Human Right and AHF are proud to have led the charge in championing the building as a Historic-Cultural Monument and we’re happy to know that it’ll be preserved as one.

The City Council voted in unanimity on the building’s Historic-Cultural designation.

“I am pleased that The Fred C. Thomson building is now a Historic-Cultural Monument in the City of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, 13th district, where the building resides. “The Thomson Building, once home to the iconic ‘The Cat & Fiddle’ restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, is a welcome addition to Hollywood’s historic cultural monument list.”

Miki Jackson of Housing Is A Human Right said, “The Fred C. Thomson Building is a quintessential Hollywood site; the building’s been a cornerstone of Hollywood history, from the silent film and rock and roll eras, through, more sadly, our current moment of excessive luxury development and gentrification.”

Housing Is A Human Right’s Director, René Christian Moya, said: “Personally, I grew up visiting the Cat & Fiddle on Sunset with family and friends, and I still have fond memories of watching European soccer matches there for years. I’m proud that our organization, Housing Is A Human Right, has led the charge in designating the building as an official Historic-Cultural Monument. The city doing so will go a long way in maintaining a bit of historic Hollywood, which is under assault by high rents, rapid gentrification, and displacement.”

Housing Is A Human Right is especially grateful to work with historian Charles Fisher on this campaign.

The Fred C. Thomson Building

More info on Travis Banton

The Cat & Fiddle:

The Cat and Fiddle was first founded in Laurel Canyon, then it relocated to Sunset and Seward, it’s now located on the 700 block of Highland, between Melrose and Waring Avenues.

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History & Preservation

Still Raucous & Rockin’: WeHo’s Landmark Barney’s Beanery Turns 100



WEST HOLLYWOOD (High Brow Magazine) — Call it a recipe for success 100 years in the making.

Take the freewheeling Americana spirit of Route 66; mix in some classic, old school Hollywood performers; add a bunch of pool tables; sprinkle in some pop art; throw in a few episodes of “Columbo”; blend in the mold-breaking attitude of The Doors, Janis Joplin, and “Easy Rider”; introduce a healthy serving of Beatniks, authors, screenwriters, architects and artists.

Stir in a delectable menu of comfort foods like chili, waffles, pancakes, burgers, pizza, burritos, and onion soup; pour on dozens of beers from around the world; create the most raucous, free-wheeling, game-playing and hard-rocking atmosphere imaginable and then heat the whole concoction up with a killer soundtrack from the iconic rock scene of the defining 1960s Sunset Strip/Laurel Canyon music era.

And that’s how you would design the one and only Barney’s Beanery, the legendary West Hollywood restaurant and bar that’s turning 100 this […]

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Art & Galleries

WeHo Reads: Architects Who Built Southern California Opens Mar 6



WEST HOLLYWOOD — Join author Antonio Gonzalez for a free event, as he tells the stories of the people behind some of Southern California’s most iconic buildings.

In the early 1900s, the population of Southern California exploded, and the cities grew at such a rapid pace that builders could hardly keep up.

Among those who settled in the area were ten architects looking to make their marks on the world. Claud Beelman, a man who never received a college degree, would go on to design the Elks Lodge in Los Angeles.

Albert C. Martin, architect of Grauman’s Million Dollar Theater, founded a company that is still going strong more than one hundred years later, and Julia Morgan, the first woman architect licensed in California, was hired by William Randolph Hearst to design the Examiner Building.

Antonio Gonzalez has a BA in journalism from the University of Iowa and an MLIS from San Jose State University. He is a member of the Odd Fellows fraternity, works in an architecture and fine arts library and has a blog where he post items related to architecture and his other interests (

In 2015, arts and historic preservation staff began a project of documenting all of the City’s designated historic properties.

This free exhibition shows a selection of photographs from the over 80 properties that were documented by West Hollywood photographer Tony Coelho, representing a wide array of architectural styles and associations with well-known architects and builders. These images celebrate West Hollywood – recognizing our past, present, and future.

When and Where:
Friday, March 6, 7:00 pm
Community Meeting Room at the West Hollywood Library
625 N. San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069

  • 7-8 pm: Reading and Architecture Presentation by Antonio Gonzalez
  • 8-9 pm: Exhibition Reception with artists upstairs.

RSVP required. Register at: niahistoric-weho-reception. For more information about this exhibit visit, or contact Mike Che, Arts Coordinator,

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History & Preservation

Rescuing Painted Scenic Backdrops From Hollywood’s Golden Age



The Yellow Brick Road of "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) led to a painted backdrop. MGM

HOLLYWOOD (CBS News) — They’re just paint and canvas, but in Hollywood’s Golden Age, painted backdrops played a vital role in the magic of movies, creating cities, sunsets, or anything else a director could imagine.

Art professor Karen Maness appreciates every brushstroke. “The backdrop is part of extending the world of the set,” she said. “Often times it was just seen outside windows. But sometimes it even included the entire world of a set on a sound stage and creating that environment.”

Take “The Wizard of Oz,” when Dorothy opens the door into a Technicolor world: “That first view of Oz, of that village, to see that entire space shaped by paintings.”

The Yellow Brick Road of “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) led to a painted backdrop. Maness is co-author of “The Art of the […]

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