MORE

News

BUILT IN 1948 AND DESIGNED by Arthur W. Hawes — the man behind the venerable Crest movie theater in Westwood, an Art Deco masterpiece — Carlton Manor, the 10-unit garden apartment complex, is unique for its “L” shape and its esoteric style, mishmashing elements from prewar and postwar periods. Because of its hybrid nature, Carlton Manor couldn’t find a home in any neatly outlined era. It was punished by the history certifiers not for being mundane, but for being unclassifiable. It couldn’t qualify under the criteria for inclusion into the Courtyard Thematic District because of its “mixed” background, the unspoken problem being mongrelism, the fact that Carlton Manor and its influences are an amalgam, a mutt of history that just can’t be beautiful. There was no place for the historians’ argument that hybrid “kitschy” buildings like Carlton Manor give as much or greater insight into the makeup of a time than the most “pure” and polished examples. Assistant City Attorney Christi Hogin audaciously claimed that city staff “could not identify any distinguishing aspects of the buildings: They couldn’t appreciate Carlton Manor as an interesting design experiment, viewing it rather as postmodern bad taste.”

Marc Wanamaker, a WeHo historian with the Bison Archives, said, all in all, “I would characterize Carlton Manor as having a Hollywood style.” A colony of middle-income housing that allowed neighbors to face each other each morning suburban-style, Carlton Manor provided a bit of grass and sky to inspire upward mobility, and helped movie-industry tenants through Tinsel Town’s struggles and mercurial shifts of fortune. Historian Portia Lee recorded a chronology of the social factors that brought about places like Carlton Manor. The courtyard apartment was first a symbol of pre-Depression boom. Then, from 1939 to 1945, nothing was built. With an influx of people returning from World War II, “the result in West Hollywood and West Los Angeles was the Garden Apartment, a building form that documents important change in land-use patterns,” she explained. “By the year of Carlton Manor’s construction, 1947, builders sensed the desire of occupants and owners, particularly new residents from the Eastern U.S., for architecture that reflected the sense of optimism and new lifestyles of Southern California.”

—M.M.