The A.S.C. Clubhouse and Its Colorful History

American Cinematographer, June 1979 | Go to article overview

The A.S.C. Clubhouse and Its Colorful History


The famed mansion, among the oldest remaining buildings of Hollywood, is now a landmark of the Film Capital and a reminder of its Golden Age

The land in Hollywood upon which the A.S.C. Clubhouse now stands was originally part of the old Spanish Grant known as Rancho La Brea. In the year 1887, Horace H. Wilcox, a land-poor realtor, made a considerable sum of money opening subdivisions, but sold little land in Hollywood. After the boom broke he bought back the 10-acre plots from the small orchardists, sold his house on Hill Street and moved to his country home in the Valley of the Cahuengas.

Finally E. C. Hurd, a wealthy miner, came from Colorado and bought acreage at the corner of Wilcox and Hollywood Blvd.

H. J. Whitley bought the old Hurd place in 1900 and laid out what was known as the Ocean View tracts, extending north of the boulevard on to Highland Avenue and beyond. In those days the term "Ocean View Tract" was quite appropriate because one could see the ocean some ten miles away.

The Los Angeles Pacific Boulevard and Development Company built a house on Lot 7, Block 2 of the Hollywood Ocean View Tract #2 in the architectural style called "Modern Mission". The house plan was like that of a Spanish hacienda in that all the rooms opened off a central patio. This "patio" however was completely enclosed and was actually a great central room with imposing pillars. A series of people owned this home from 1903 until 1910 when it was sold to Mr. James Henry Brown of Salt Lake City. Mr. Brown purchased this property for his ailing wife as a retreat from the severe winters of Utah. He persuaded his son, James Creighton Brown, to take his wife Flora and baby daughter Barbara to live here with Mrs. James Henry Brown.

The elder Mrs. Brown died in 1916, but the Creighton Browns remained in the house until 1923. Mrs. Creighton Brown was a beautiful and gracious lady who was very active in the social and cultural affairs of the community. The home became the setting for many receptions for musical and art gatherings. Friends and relatives from Salt Lake City would often be house guests for weeks at a time. This was gracious living.

Old photographs reveal that the center section of the home under the glass dome was filled with tropical plants. The front porch, which had originally spanned the front of the house, was enclosed on the South side to form a keeping room or a summer sleeping porch. There were foLw bedrooms, a parlor and a study up in the cupola. The house had an ample dining room, butler's pantry and large kitchen. Fireplaces provided a cheery warmth on cold days. Comfortable servants quarters were provided in the basement area.

In 1922, the Creighton Browns bought a new residence at 6626 Sunset Blvd. and the "Modern Mission" was sold to Conway Tearle, a prominent motion picture leading man of those days. Tearle and his wife, Adèle Rowland, used to entertain here with lavish receptions. During those years he remodeled the house and put a fountain into the "patio" area and many of the elite film world gathered around it for the lavish parties.

Tearle and his estate retained ownership of the property until the Mortgage Guaranty Company acquired it at a foreclosure sale in 1935.

The American Society of Cinematographers had owned a suite of offices in the Guaranty Building. The mortgage company had acquired all the other offices and prevailed on the Society to sell their unit for $20,000 so that they could own the building outright. …

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