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LA's Last Standing Barrel Building May Be Protected

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[Large photo via Daily News; small photo via HCM application]

Los Angeles magazine associate editor and preservationist Chris Nichols has tracked down one of LA's last standing programmatic buildings (buildings that look like objects, like the Brown Derby) and nominated it for Historic-Cultural Monument status. The former Idle Hour Café on Vineland in North Hollywood is the only barrel-shaped building left in the city (according to Nichols's application [link goes to a pdf], there used to be barrels on San Fernando Road, Beverly Boulevard, and Huntington Drive, among others). The redwood barrel with its stucco wings was commissioned in 1941 by Universal Studios film tech Michael D. Connolly (the Daily News says he was a former hobo, which gives the barrel extra meaning) and built by Silver Lake engineer George F. Fordyk. The application says that "unlike earlier incarnations of mimetic architecture, the Idle Hour Café has a fully integrated interior space with light fixtures, booths, bar and paneling as highly thematically realized as the exterior promised, much of it intact to this day." Connolly and his wife lived in an apartment on the second floor until their divorce after his return from World War II.

Nichols tells the rest of the story: "After divorcing, Irene ran the café until the 1960s, after which it was renamed 'Rudy’s Keg.' In 1971, the building was purchased by Jose and Dolores Fernandez and reopened as a flamenco dinner theater called 'La Caña.' The restaurant closed in 1984 and Dolores continued living in the second-floor apartment until 2009." Fernandez is still the buildings owner, and according to the Daily News approves of the HCM nomination. The Cultural Heritage Commission has visited the site and will vote on the nomination today.

Also on the CHC's agenda today are three of the buildings nominated by those high school preservationists and the Venice West Cafe, a 1950s and '60s beat hangout where Allen Ginsberg and Jim Morrison performed.
· Preserving history in the Valley [Daily News]
· Idle Hour Cafe Nomination - pdf [City Planning]