|Status Demolished 1959|
Opened January 1927
Opening January 1927
Construction started 1926
|Location 8152 Sunset Boulevard
(on the Sunset Strip)
Similar Schwab's Pharmacy, Ciro's, Ambassador Hotel, Mocambo, Hollywood Hotel
The Garden of Allah was a famous hotel in West Hollywood, California (then an unincorporated area of Los Angeles which was usally considered a part of Hollywood), at 8152 Sunset Boulevard between Crescent Heights and Havenhurst, at the east end of the Sunset Strip. It was originally a 2.5 acre estate called Hayvenhurst that was built in 1913 by real estate developer William H. Hay as his private residence. Alla Nazimova acquired the property in 1919 and then, in 1926, converted it into a residential hotel by adding 25 villas around the residence. The hotel opened in January 1927 as the "Garden of Alla Hotel" (no final "h" on Alla). By 1930, new owners had changed the name to the Garden of Allah Hotel. Over the next two decades, the property went through a succession of owners, the last of whom was Bart Lytton, owner of Lytton Savings & Loan, who demolished the hotel in 1959 and replaced it with his bank's main branch.
- Map of Garden of Allah Hotel, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
- The model of the garden of allah hotel part 2 of 2
- Garden of Alla
- Garden of Allah Hotel
- Purchase by Lytton Savings
- Miniature model
- Source of the name
- Quotes about the Garden of Allah
- Famous residents and guests
- In popular culture
Map of Garden of Allah Hotel, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
The model of the garden of allah hotel part 2 of 2
The estate that later became the Garden of Allah Hotel was built in 1913 by real estate developer William H. Hay in the northwest corner of the Crescent Heights neighborhood, a 160-acre tract bounded by Sunset Boulevard on the north, Santa Monica Boulevard on the south, Crescent Avenue (later renamed Fairfax Avenue) on the east and Sweetzer Avenue on the west, which Hay had subdivided and developed starting in 1905.
The estate's original address was 8080 Sunset Boulevard but was later changed to 8152. It occupied a 2.5 acre lot that fronted Sunset Boulevard and was bounded by Crescent Heights Boulevard on the east and Hayvenhurst (now spelled Havenhurst) Drive on the west. The property's southern boundary was also the border between the Hollywood district of the city of Los Angeles and the then-unincorporated area that later became the city of West Hollywood.
Hay and his wife Katherine personally supervised construction of the estate. The house had twelve rooms and four bathrooms. The finishes were all in Circassian walnut that the Hays had collected on a trip to the Philippines in 1912. The interior walls were covered in canvas and hand-painted. The garage had bays for two cars—a rarity in those days—with rooms upstairs for live-in servants. Construction and landscaping cost an estimated $30,000.
The Hays' stay at Hayvenhurst was short-lived. Within a few years they had built and moved into a new house a few blocks east, at 7920 Sunset Boulevard, the site today of the Directors Guild of America headquarters. William Hay also purchased Encino Ranch, a large tract of land in the San Fernando Valley that he would later develop into the upscale Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles. Hayvenhurst reportedly stood unoccupied for several years.
Garden of Alla
Stage and screen actress Alla Nazimova leased Hayvenhurst from William Hay not long after she moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1918. She purchased it outright in 1919. Nazimova jokingly called her new home "The Garden of Alla", which was a reference to her own name and the best-selling 1905 novel The Garden of Allah, by British author Robert S. Hichens.
Faced with a financial crisis in the mid-1920s after her screen career derailed, Nazimova put her property to work generating an income by building a complex of 25 rental "villas" around the original house. The opening party for "The Garden of Alla Hotel" was held on January 9, 1927. She found her role as a hotel manager unsuitable and discovered that her unscrupulous partners in the enterprise had nearly bankrupted her, so in 1928 she sold out her remaining interest in the property, auctioned off most of her furniture and other household goods, and went back to the Broadway stage. By 1930, the owners had normalized the spelling in the hotel's name to "Allah".
After Nazimova's renewed Broadway success was cut short by illness in 1938, she returned to Hollywood and rented Villa 24, where she lived until her death in 1945.
Garden of Allah Hotel
Catering to both short-term and long-term guests, the hotel soon gained a reputation as a place where the famous could enjoy living in a quaint, cozy, village-like setting, conveniently located yet shielded from gawking tourists and autograph seekers by discreet security patrols, under a management that was not inclined to probe, judge or interfere with the private — and sometimes public — activities of its often unconventional patrons.
The Garden of Allah became home to many celebrities and literary figures. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived there for several months in 1937–38 at the beginning of his final stay in Hollywood. He wrote himself a postcard while there: "Dear Scott — How are you? Have been meaning to come in and see you. I have living [sic] at the Garden of Allah. Yours, Scott Fitzgerald." Fitzgerald's biographer and lover Sheilah Graham later wrote a book about the place, titled simply The Garden of Allah. Humorist and actor Robert Benchley was a frequent resident. An array of Golden Age Hollywood stars and featured players, ranging from Greta Garbo to Ronald Reagan, stayed there at least briefly, and so did classical music giants Sergei Rachmaninoff (who was musically assaulted there by an annoyed Harpo Marx), Igor Stravinsky and Jascha Heifetz. Dance band leaders Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and vocalist Frank Sinatra were among the pop music personalities. A more extensive sampling of names can be found in the "Famous residents and guests" section below.
Purchase by Lytton Savings
Although celebrities such as Errol Flynn were still calling it home as late as 1957, by that time the hotel's architectural style was long out of fashion and its environs had become more tacky than glamorous. Land values were rising, historic preservation was still an eccentric notion, and "redevelopment" was a popular civic buzzword.
On April 11, 1959, Bart Lytton, president of Lytton Savings and Loan, announced that he had purchased the Garden of Allah Hotel from Beatrice Rosenus and Morris Markowitz for $755,000. Lytton's plans for the property included razing the hotel to make way for a new main branch for his bank, which had formerly been headquartered in the Canoga Park neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley.
On August 22, 1959, Lytton hosted a farewell party on the grounds of the hotel. Among the attendees was silent film star Francis X. Bushman, who had been at the opening party in 1927. Some other guests came costumed as old-time stars. In a nod to the hotel's creator, Nazimova's experimental 1923 silent film Salomé was shown on a large poolside screen. On August 30, an on-site public auction liquidated all the furnishings, fixtures and equipment, along with odds and ends valuable only as souvenirs. Demolition permits were issued on November 2. Within days, all traces of the hotel were gone and construction of the bank building had begun.
In 1960, the Garden of Allah reappeared on the site in the form of a detailed miniature model of the complex. For many years, this was on display outside Lytton's building, in a small plaza at the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights, sheltered from the elements in a sort of shrine with a lofty domed pavilion. It was later moved indoors and eventually disappeared. It resurfaced in private hands in the early 2010s, architecturally intact and with its built-in miniature electric lighting system restored.
Source of the name
The hotel's name was not a direct reference to Islam but rather to Nazimova's first name and the title of a 1905 novel, The Garden of Allah, by British writer Robert S. Hichens. The novel was adapted into a play first produced in London in 1909. Mary Mannering acted in the play in 1910. The novel also served as the basis for three movies, the final one of which starred Marlene Dietrich, who was once a resident of the hotel.
Quotes about the Garden of Allah
It reminds me of Hollywood.
I'll be damned if I'll believe anyone lives in a place called the Garden of Allah.
Nothing interrupted the continual tumult that was life at the Garden of Allah. Now and then the men in white came with a van and took somebody away, or bankruptcy or divorce or even jail claimed a participant in its strictly unstately sarabands. Nobody paid any mind.
A light-hearted, unrealistic place.
There is no place for a Garden of Allah that, for one brief moment, was Camelot. It was inevitable that Hollywood as we knew it, and its satellite, Alla's garden, should disappear together.
Hollywood's and thus America's most unconventional hotel, actually "notorious" would be a more descriptive word.
Famous residents and guests
A representative list of the Garden of Allah Hotel's famous guests: