Home Of Legendary WeHo Gay Club To Be Spared From Demolition
As highlighted by last month's shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, gay clubs are often far more than just a place to party: they're also safe havens for those who are ostracized by the broader culture. As such, gay clubs (especially ones that have lived through the AIDS epidemic of the '80s) have a special place in the city's fabric.
So when it was announced last year that a development firm may tear down WeHo's "The Factory"—which had housed Studio One, one of SoCal's most legendary gay clubs—people went into an uproar. Now, however, it seems like developers have (largely) backed off from their plans, reports Curbed L.A.
Initially, the proposal called to tear down The Factory to build a pedestrian walkway. The walkway would be part of "Robertson Lane," a project that would include retail stores, restaurants, and 250 hotel rooms. Now, developer Faring Capital says that, instead of demolishing the structure completely, it will move a 140-foot long, two-story section of The Factory to another section at Robertson Boulevard to make room for the walkway, reports WeHoVille. The firm will also restore much of The Factory's facade, replacing the current windows with ones that had been salvaged from the past. Faring Capital will even go as far as commissioning "an oral history project and installations celebrating Studio One and the Factory's significance to the LGBT community," said WeHoVille. These announcements have garnered praise from both the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) and the L.A. Conservancy.
The building was erected in 1929 to house the Mitchell Camera Corporation, which left its mark on the filmmaking industry by producing the most advanced cameras of its time. When the company moved out, the space was renamed "The Factory" and served as a hang-out spot for celebrities. In 1974, Scott Forbes took over and turned it into Studio One, a gay disco that was "considered by many the place to see and be seen through much of the 1970s and 1980s," according to the L.A. Times. It had a dance floor that could accommodate over 1,000 people, and a backlot theater that saw performances by the likes of Bernadette Peters and Joan Rivers. The club also held one of the first major AIDS fundraisers in the early 80s.
The Factory is far from over. Strength comes in numbers and from community. This will be the first of many unfortunate fights to preserve our heritage. This LGBT community is awake and fighting to save our pride and our history.