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The Factory, a former gay club, deemed eligible for National Register of Historic Places

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But it might never end up on the register

Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Factory, a 1920 building that once housed both a former gay club and a movie camera manufacturer, has been deemed eligible for the U.S. National Parks Department’s National Register of Historic Places, reports WeHoville.

Located on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood, the building is planned to become part of a new development called Robertson Lane that will bring a hotel and retail to the site. Developer Faring Capital plans to preserve most of the structure, reorient it on the site, and reuse it, possible as retail, a restaurant, or a nightclub.

Krisy Gosney, who worked with her wife Kate Eggert to prepare The Factory’s application for historic status, says the final step is having the property owner, Nathan Goller, approve the designation. That could pose a big roadblock as Goller has objected to it.

The Factory would be the first LGBT site west of Chicago on the register. It could also possibly be the first site listed that represents LGBT history after the Stonewall Riots in New York but before the deadly AIDS epidemic began.

With the designation, Faring Capital’s founder Jason Illoulian says his firm’s plans would stay the same.

“We are committed to restoring the Factory and bringing it back to its glory days,” he told Curbed. Illoulian says his firm's plan would preserve 60 percent of the building, but Eggert contends it's more like 40 percent. And she argues that moving it would make it ineligible for local, state, and national landmark status.

Robertson Lane.
Courtesy of Faring Capital

The Factory was built for the Mitchell Camera Company, which used the building from 1929 to the mid-1940s. The company’s cameras "revolutionized filmmaking" by helping to ease the transition from silent films to those with sound. Mitchell Camera technology was used in cameras up until digital cameras hit the scene, says Gosney.

From the mid-1970s until 1993, the gay club Studio One took up residence in the space. The club, designed as a space for openly gay men, is important not only because it was place where men no longer had to hide, it also became a place where gay and straight people wanted to be—a far cry from the day where gay bars operated under-the-radar out of concern for their patrons.

The nomination also acknowledges that gay men of color and women were often required to have two or more forms of ID, which in effect deterred them from entering.

But to Eggert, this stain of discrimination on the history of the space doesn’t mean that The Factory shouldn’t be saved. “In talking about it, we put a light on it, and hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” she says.