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Studio One, A Pioneering Gay Disco In WeHo, Faces Demolition

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The Factory as it appears today (Photo by Ron Gilbert via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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A building that once was home to a pioneering gay disco has been declared "endangered" in the hopes to save it from—yep—development in West Hollywood.The Factory, located at 652 North La Peer Drive, was designated one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation on Wednesday. The building was first built in 1929, and has been host to the changing history of Los Angeles through its life. At first it served as a factory for the Mitchell Camera Corporation, whose cameras have been recognized by the Academy for their contributions for the movie industry. The company moved out after the War and from 1967 to 1972 it was simply "The Factory," a popular nightclub for celebrities. It wasn't until Scott Forbes took over the space in 1974 that it became the disco Studio One, an epicenter for gay nightlife and activism.

Studio One "offered no shortage of mirrored balls (seven to be exact), strobe lights, lasers, a gleaming red neon Pegasus and a fish tank in the men's room that spouted water for hand washing," WeHoville says in their history of the space. "Studio One was planned, designed and conceived for gay people, gay male people," Forbes told the L.A. Times. Patti LaBelle, Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli all performed at the club, and in the early-80s it also hosted one of the first major fundraisers in response to the AIDS epidemic.

Today it remains a nightclub and has switched back to being called The Factory, but according to Curbed is facing demolition due to plans to build a 250-room hotel nearby. The Robertson Lane project, as it is called, would create a walkway between La Peer Drive and Robertson Boulevards that would go through the site of the The Factory. "This route could easily be realigned to spare this landmark from the wrecking ball," says the Trust.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation annually releases a least of 11 threatened historic sites, and for the most part they have worked. Of the over 250 sites they've named through the years, they say only a "handful" have been lost. Terminal Island, the Ennis House, and Cathedral of St. Vibiana have been among the sites nominated to the lists through the years.

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