Located at the southwest corner of Sunset and Las Palmas, 6700 Sunset Boulevard was a private residence used by the newly-formed Hollywood Writers Club as their clubhouse from 1921-1937. It has had numerous address and parcel changes, which makes it confusing to research. The following is my own, original research.
The large, 2-story residence was built c.1905 when this stretch of Sunset was designated West Sunset Boulevard, beginning west of South Cahuenga, and the street numbers were only 3-digits. Its address was 672 West Sunset Boulevard. Between 1911 and 1913, the addresses of West Sunset were changed to 4-digits, continuing in sequence from east of South Cahuenga. This building became 6716 Sunset Boulevard.
The Robert V. Fosters were residents as of 1912, when it was still addressed as 672. In July 1914, it was known as the “old Avery place” (old being a relative term in Hollywood) when Frank A. McAllister moved into what was now 6716 Sunset. By 1918, it was home to Harry B. Morse, great-nephew of Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor or the telegraph.
In 1921, Morse sold the property to a holding company, the Las Palmas and Sunset Corporation, for use as a clubhouse by the Screen Writers’ Guild (at this time organized as an informal club not a union), aka the Screen Writer’s club, aka the Hollywood Writer’s Club.
The ivy-clad clubhouse, set well back from the street amid lush landscaping, was dedicated July 14, 1921.
The Guild continued to use the 6716 address through 1922. By early 1923 the address had become 6700 Sunset Boulevard. (6716 was thereafter assigned to the property next door to the west).
In early 1922 the club began planning to make alterations to the first floor of the mansion to accommodate a banquet hall and a theater equipped for both live performances and moving pictures with a stage and projection room. An addition was built onto the back of the mansion to house the small but well appointed playhouse. The club celebrated its completion in December 2, 1922 with a dinner and production of 4 1-act plays including “Saffron” by Carey Wilson; “Tryst” by Garrett Elsden Fort (featuring May McAvoy and Patsy Ruth Miller as a racy flapper-next-door); and “The Cup of Life” by Frances Marion.
In 1933, the Screen Writers Guild was organized as a union and in May 1933 moved out of the clubhouse to new quarters in the Hollywood Center Building at 6650 Hollywood Boulevard.
The Writer’s Club became the Authors Club and continued at 6700 until January 1937, when owners the Las Palmas and Sunset Corporation raised its rent from $300 a month to $450. The club moved out and established its new headquarters at the Knickerbocker Hotel on Ivar Street.
Curiously, the new tenant’s rent was reportedly only to be $350 a month.
The same month, Las Palmas and Sunset Corporation leased 6700 Sunset to Chicagoans Mrs. Margaret Woodward and William Harrison for use as a restaurant, Sunset Arbor. The building was refurbished, refurnished, repainted, redecorated and remodeled. Meals would be served in the dining room and in the large screened-in porch as well as outdoor dining on the lawn. The auditorium, game rooms and supper rooms were available to rent for parties. Sunset Arbor with its all women cooks opened April 1, 1937.
The epoch in Hollywood History was more like a blip. Sunset Arbor closed in 1938 less than 1 year into a 10 year lease. Refurbished once again, the auditorium space was used by various theater groups.
In November 1940, grown-up child performers, the Duncan Sisters (Rosetta and Vivian) returned to Hollywood.
Shortly after, the sisters announced they were turning 6700 into a ye olde English-style music hall nightclub, to be called Duncan’s Music Hall. The opening was scheduled for “about” December 28. 1940.
The pair plunged ahead with the project, fireproofing and soundproofing the auditorium, hiring check room and flower girls, and booking talent for opening night, including their old pal Eduardo Cansino, aka Rita Hayworth’s dad, for opening night. Reservations were reportedly pouring in.
But 10 days before the anticipated opening, a snag came up. Neighbors objected to the venture, citing concerns about the noise and parking. The Police Commission ultimately denied the sisters a permit, asserting that the building was in a “residential zone” not a commercial one. Which is strange because the Haymarket ye olde New York-style music hall nightclub was able to open at the same time with no problem just a couple doors down on the other side of Las Palmas at 6666 Sunset, the former Vendome building. If it makes the Duncan’s feel any better, it only lasted a month.
The sisters did not give up without a fight.They went on with rehearsals for the opening night show- which they insisted would be December 28. But that date came and went. On January 2, 1941, the Duncans announced the name of a new show that would open their nightclub. The Police Commission reportedly said only the porch of the building was zoned commercial.
In late February, the club was assertedly going to open “within two weeks.” But March and April passed. In May, 1941, the Duncans had supposedly resolved their zoning issues and developed a new show for the imminent opening that never came.
By then, the financially troubled building was bank-owned. In June, the bank sued the sisters for unpaid rent and demanded that they pay or vacate. They vacated, heading north the same month for a long and successfully engagement at San Francisco’s Lido club followed by another long and successfully engagement at the Music Box.
The building was then put up for sale.
Still for sale in 1943, the vacant building was then in the process of being taken over by the US Military. In March 1944, it opened as “Mom” Anne Lehr’s Hollywood Guild Officers Club. Visiting officers could stay overnight and have a hot dinner and breakfast. It was forced to close on April 4, 1946, its lease having expired. New owner Ernest A. Forssgren advertised the building, with its auditorium space, for lease.
In January 1947, 6700 Sunset was being carved up for use as Dixon McCoy’s recording studio.
By early 1951, Don Martin’s radio and TV school had taken over the building.
In September 1951, the original OLD (c. 1905) portion of the building was demolished.
After the mansion was demolished, the newer portion of the building added by the Writer’s Club in 1922 still remained. Alterations were made as necessary for it to be a stand-along building. In October 1951, the deep parcel was cut in half, the theater addition portion sold to the bungalow court next door at 6720 Sunset.
In February 1952, the address of the now stand-alone theater building was changed from 6700 Sunset to 1445 North Las Palmas, since the new entrance was oriented toward Las Palmas, not Sunset. It would soon use the address 1447 North Las Palmas instead.
Today, the City lists 1905 as the estimated date of construction. That refers to the original house. This building largely consists of the addition constructed by the Screen Writers club in 1922.
Center Stage’s first production at 1447 N. Las Palmas was The Little Foxes in August 1955. None of the information about the history of the theater was correct. It was NOT built by the Dolly Sisters. The Dollys, Rosie and Jenny, had only come to the USA as girls in 1905 and were on the east coast. As seen above, the theater, when it was still an addition to the Writers Club building, had a brief association with the Duncan Sisters. And it was the original mansion that was built c. 1905, not this theater addition. Perhaps it is a case of someone getting details confused, as is often the case with Hollywood buildings.
In 1954, a 2-story motel was built on the corner parcel, called Sunset Lodge. It was given the address 6700. It had no association with the original 6700 Sunset building.