This property is significant in many respects: for its association with many of the most important American film actresses; for its role in the development of the Hollywood studio “star system”; and for its architectural merit and as a work of Julia Morgan, one of California’s most prominent architects (Criterion C).  Beginning in the mid-1920s, the Hollywood film industry revolutionized the economy and lifeways of Southern California and affected the lives and values of people worldwide.  The Hollywood Studio Club was an important functional part of the studio “star system”, serving as a home for many young women whose star qualities were yet to be recognized. It stands today as a symbol of the birth of one of the great industries of California and the nation.

 May 7, 1926. Talking pictures were a year and a half away, but how Hollywood had grown! Grown large enough so that there were 2,500 persons attending the dedication of the Studio Club. At a cost of $229,604.00, financed by luminaries of the motion picture field, including Mary Pickford, Mrs. Cecil B. DeMille, Marion Davies, Mrs. Arthur Heineman, Will Hayes, the Doheny family, and many, many contributions from Hollywood citizens at large, plus contributions from the Young Women’s Christian Association through the sale of previously owned property, it became the Hollywood Studio Club.

Through the years, the Studio Club served as a haven for nearly 10,000 girls. Young women arrived with stars in their eyes from the cities and towns all across the nation. The goal of all—to seek their fame and fortune via the silver screen. Many achieved that goal. The register of those early residents is not available, nor was kept, except, perhaps, in the memory of those who lived there, but those who signed the ledger were and are, to many of us, household words.

Marilyn Monroe, Marie Windsor, Dorothy Malone, Barbara Rush, Gale Storm, Kirn Novak, Donna Reed, Rita Moreno, Janet Blair, Evelyn Keyes, Louise Albritton, Virginia Sale, Peggy Dow, Eva Aulin, Joyce Mackenzie, Shirley O’Hara, Linda Darnell, Shirley Knight Nancy Kwan, Barbara Hale, Marion Davies, and Ayn Rand, authoress. More recent alumni would include Donna Douglas, Ann B. Davis, Barbara Eden, JoAnn Worley, Susan St. James, and Sally Struthers. Louis B. Mayer once said “that there were more stars at MGM than there were in Heaven”. In movie folklore, that may be true, but the address of those mentioned and thousands of others was: 1215 Lodi Place, Hollywood, California.

1916 . . . One year before the United States would enter into World War I, the embryo of this type of “home away from home” emerged from the mind of Mrs. Eleanor Jones, a librarian at the Hollywood Branch Library. Groups of young girls would meet in the building basement to familiarize themselves with plays, compare notes, and share dreams. The struggle for survival was always a topic of discussion. Mrs. Jones was there to share it all. Her concern for the safety and well-being of aspiring actresses living in substandard hotels and rooming houses, prompted her to contact the local Hollywood Women s Club. With the help of the YWCA, a residence hall was established on YWCA premises. This temporary measure, however, was not adequate to house the many incoming actresses.

 Soon a variety of groups, including the Hollywood Business Men’s Association and other civic organizations, united to raise money for construction and operation of a “Studio Club” for women. An older house on Carlos Street became the first official site of the Studio Club. There was space for twenty young women at this site. Although no records exist, there is evidence that the late Zazu Pitts was an alumnus of this early club.

 As the motion picture industry grew, so did the need for a larger, better-equipped club. And once again the people of Hollywood responded. Funds were raised, a desirable location secured, and Julia Morgan, perhaps the leading woman architect in California history, was commissioned to design the structure. Morgan’s career achievements include some 800 buildings, including many structures designed for the YWCA. She is most widely recognized as the chief architect for William Randolph Hearst’s “San Simeon”. Her involvement in the Studio Club assured that all major participants in the project were women, making the Studio Club interesting from the standpoint of women’s history in addition to its importance to the history of American filmmaking.

 The new club would house 88 women in a safe, supportive environment. Their small rent provided them with a single or double room, two meals a day, and access to a rehearsal hall and small auditorium where studio talent scouts would audition the young hopefuls. Mail service was provided as well as 24-hour switchboard service, reassuring the young actresses that important studio calls would not be missed. A homelike atmosphere was key to the social success of the Club. The rules were strict and enforced throughout the Club’s fifty-year operation. Applicants were also screened, needing parental approval and letters of reference to gain admission. The demand for entrance, at least during the 1930s and 1940s, far exceeded available space. Club staff adopted an essentially parental relationship with residents. Notable among those filling this quasi-parental responsibility were Marjorie William, Director of the Club from 1922 to 1945, and House Manager Judy Joanis, who so served for 35 years, retiring in 1972.

 When the film industry began to decline with the advent of television, the Hollywood studio system declined as well. Studios were no longer able to keep large numbers of stars under contract or to groom youngsters for eventual stardom. This decline in the studio system contributed heavily to the demise of the Hollywood Studio Club as well. In addition, the strict code enforced at the Studio Club proved to be inappropriate, even old-fashioned, in the 1960s. Despite these difficulties, the Club managed to meet its commitments to its members, their parents, and their creditors.

By the 1960s, actresses no longer comprised the major part of Hollywood Studio Club residents. Their places were filled by those not involved in show business. One former staff member remarked of this change, “We were glad to have people around that had even seen a show lately”. By the early 1970s, the Club was essentially a transient hotel for women. Still losing money, the Club closed its kitchen, making the residence even less attractive to prospective tenants because of the unavailability of good restaurants in the immediate vicinity. The final blow to Club operations came in the early 1970s when local government began to enforce new fire codes. Bringing the Club up to code would require alterations to the building’s graceful sweeping stairway as well as the removal of many doors, some of which bore name plates of famous residents. Many prominent film personalities, such as Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Jackie Coogan, Howard Hughes, and Harold Lloyd, tried to arrange for continued operation of the Studio Club, but to no avail.

In February 1975, the Club was closed, although the YWCA did maintain business offices there through 1976. By January 1977, the structure was completely vacant. Between January and June 1977, the structure was partially remodeled on the interior to bring it up to code. It presently is leased to the United States Department of Labor for use as a Job Corps facility. What was once a part of the Hollywood “dream factory” now resembles an assembly-line factory. Nevertheless, the building exists, with a high degree of exterior integrity and relatively high interior integrity. The community of retired and active film and other entertainment personalities hopes one day to return this graceful Hollywood structure to a use more in keeping with its past, perhaps as a home for retired actors and actresses. This National Register application is supported by large segments of the entertainment business as a first step in commemorating, preserving, and restoring this important landmark in film history.