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Hollywood’s 1950s musicians union building could become a city landmark

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The “foremost entertainers and studio musicians” of the 1950s were members of the union

Located at Vine Street near Waring Avenue, the musician’s union building has been around since 1950.
Via Cultural Heritage Commission

A two-story commercial building built in the ’50s for a musicians union may be added to the city’s roster of historic-cultural landmarks. The Cultural Heritage Commission voted Thursday to consider the Musician's Union Hall on Vine Street near Waring Avenue as a potential monument.

The historians at Esotouric noted that while this is the first step on the road to landmark status, it’s something to be excited about. The property owners, Lincoln Property Company, are not contesting the designation, and a representative from the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell spoke in favor of the landmarking.

Completed in 1950, the Musicians Union of Hollywood was one of the final commissions of architect Gordon B. Kaufmann before his death in 1949. Kaufmann was the architect behind the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, a 1930s-era section of the Los Angeles Times’s Times Mirror Square complex in Downtown, and Hollywood hotspots the Earl Carroll Theater and the Palladium.

The Vine Street entrance to the building has two music notes adorned with the number “47.”

With its boxy form; concrete, steel, and glass construction; and its bands of metal framed windows, the union hall is considered an excellent example of Corporate International architectural style, says the planning department’s report on the structure.

Until July of this year, the structure “served as a clubhouse and organization headquarters for the Musicians Union Local 47, now known as the American Federation of Musicians Local 47,” the report says.

Both the building and its interiors have been altered over the years, but many vintage features remain, including a 1950s-era sign next to the building’s marquee that features an eighth note festooned with a “47” ribbon and the words “Professional Musicians”, “Local 47”, and “American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO.”

The “foremost entertainers and studio musicians of the era” were members of the Local 47, including the famed Wrecking Crew, a group of studio musicians who were the go-to players for such big names as The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, The Byrds, and Simon and Garfunkel.

The Local 47 was also the first musicians union in the country to desegregate, allowing non-white members to join its ranks in 1953.