West Hollywood's 'Log Cabin' Is A Hub For Sobriety Groups. Now It's Facing The Wrecking Ball

The Log Cabin. (Robert Garrova/LAist)

A longstanding West Hollywood meeting place for people trying to get sober is facing the wrecking ball, and that has upset many in the community.

The shabby wooden building at 621 N. Robertson Blvd. — known as the Log Cabin — was built in 1936. Or 1928. No one seems to know for sure. In any event, the city of Beverly Hills — which owns the property — has told the Lions Club of West Hollywood — which owns the Log Cabin — that it must "remove" the building and vacate the premises by March 31.

Thousands of people have signed an online petition to save the Log Cabin, and West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran has asked his city attorney to issue a cease-and-desist order to block the demolition.

The building sits in a tony neighborhood right by the Beverly Hills border. It sticks out among the area's upscale salons and luxury clothing stores.

The Lions Club has been the Log Cabin's steward for almost 100 years, said West Hollywood Lions Club President Gyula Kangiszer.

'A MAGICAL PLACE'

"Every morning people come there and they talk about this building as a magical place," he said. "When you are thinking about fighting an addiction, some people go to the mountain, some go to the beach. In the busy city life, this Log Cabin is a similar escape for those that come here."

News of the Log Cabin's possible demise worries many in the sobriety community.

"The Log Cabin is like an iconic way station for sobriety in Los Angeles," said James Maclean, who spoke with me after running a support meeting across the street at the West Hollywood Recovery Center.

"You know that if you show up to the Log Cabin, there's going to be some sort of meeting and some sort of sobriety and someone to help you," he said.

Losing the Log Cabin would be like losing a part of West Hollywood history, Maclean said.

'OUR CONCERN IS THE SAFETY OF THOSE WITHIN THE BUILDING'

The cities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills issued a joint statement Monday night that said a contractor inspected the Log Cabin and "found portions of the building in poor condition."

Both cities understand the importance of the Log Cabin and the lives that have been changed there, Beverly Hills City Manager George Chavez said in the statement. "Our concern is the safety of those within the building," he added.

The two cities are in discussion for a "shared approach to the current uses" of the property, according to the statement.

"The City of West Hollywood is committed to preserving the availability of addiction recovery support group space and will work with our neighbors in the City of Beverly Hills to explore all available options," West Hollywood Mayor John D'Amico said in the statement.

The City of West Hollywood is expected to carry out its own audit of the Log Cabin's condition.

A MOVE TO SAVE 'A POTENTIAL HISTORIC STRUCTURE'

As of Tuesday morning, more than 5,800 people had signed the online petition opposing the demolition.

The petition calls the building "a much beloved and important community resource." It says a survey of West Hollywood properties that might qualify as historically or culturally significant found the Log Cabin was built in 1928 "to house Troop 27 of the Boy Scouts of America." A 2016 City of West Hollywood survey pegged the construction date as 1936.

It's unclear when the building became a hub for sobriety and recovery meetings, but it has been one for decades.

In a statement on Facebook, Duran said he's asking West Hollywood's city attorney to issue a cease and desist order against the Lions Club and Beverly Hills to prevent them "from attempting to demolish a potential historic structure without due process of law."

Added Duran: "Some see [the Log Cabin] as a crappy run down rustic building that needs to be torn down. I see it as a place where MIRACLES have happened for decades."

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Gyula Kangiszer's name and misidentified his gender. LAist regrets the error.