West Hollywood's The Palms Bar, a hangout for the local lesbian community since the '60s, will close on June 9.
Located on Santa Monica Blvd. at La Cienega, the historic building that houses The Palms will be demolished to make space for a new mixed use development. In late April, the landlord told the bar's managers they had 30 days to vacate the building, but they will be allowed to stay open through the end of Pride Week. An official closing party will be held on June 2.
Over the years, it has hosted celebrities including Jim Morrison, Tom Waits, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Melissa Etheridge. But it served a great many more locals.
“It's really been a place where people came out at and met their first lovers,” says local filmmaker Kate Eggert of The Palms. “It was a tight community because there weren't many other places for women to go.”
Per WEHOville.com, the land will be the site of a new mixed large-scale mixed use complex.
Shortly after the Palms closes, the building will be demolished. Property owner Michael Talla, who owns the entire block on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard between West Knoll and Westbourne drives, plans to combine the Palms with the adjacent vacant lot (site of the old Athletic Club) to erect a four-story building with 19 residential units and 8,700 square feet of retail.
Kate Eggert was working on a web series about The Palms when she and fellow fillmmaker Krisy Gosney learned the bar was closing. Their project has since turned into a documentary that will focus on the history of The Palms and its role in providing a safe haven for the Los Angeles lesbian community in its early days.
“We're going to expand the project out not to be just about the place,” Gosney says, “but what it was like to be a lesbian back in the day when there would be raids and your name would be posted in the newspaper and you could be arrested for wearing men's clothing.”
The June 2 party will host a confession booth where guests can share stories of their personal experiences at The Palms, to be used in the documentary. Additional interviews with current and former patrons will be conducted this weekend, May 10, 11 and 12. Those interested in participating can contact the filmmakers. All interview footage will be donated to the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive.
It's unclear what will become of the bar's employees, some of whom have been there for 20 years.
“They razed all the buildings next door two years ago and kept The Palms there,” Eggert says. “I think all of us were kind of hoping that they would work the building into the plans.”
The Palms' managers were long aware that an eviction was imminent and are currently looking for a new location. Here is their official closing announcement, from their Facebook page:
Dear Patrons, The Palms Bar located at 8572 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood will be closing its doors within the next couple of months. For no other reason than the new property owners have decided to redevelop the property. We are currently in the process of looking for a new location to re-open and will keep you all informed of when and where that will be. We thank all those who have remained with us throughout the years. We are grateful to those who have become our friends, our family, lovers, confidants and even our ex's.