Scottish Rite Temple - Wilshire Blvd. Millard Sheets, 1961

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Scottish Rite Temple - Wilshire Blvd. Millard Sheets, 1961

Postby nichols » Fri Dec 06, 2002 5:50 pm

LA Independent

Scottish Rite reopens as museum debuts

By Brian Lewis

Nearly a decade after closing its doors because its operation ran afoul of neighbors and city officials, the Scottish Rite Temple reopened to the public last week.

The occasion last Tuesday was the debut of the American Heritage Masonic Museum, marked by a benefit attended by several hundred people who toured the small museum on the second-floor balcony of the 4357 Wilshire Blvd. building and listened to a performance by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony in the 1,700-seat auditorium.

The museum -- which documents the role of the fraternal organization in American history through photos, documents, paintings, letters and sculptures, among numerous other artifacts, and shines a spotlight on some of its more famous members -- will be open on a daily basis 11 a.m.-5 p.m. for a $5 admission.

The ornate, cream-colored Italian granite building had been dark since 1994 when the Masons closed it after the city denied the fraternal organization the ability to rent the facility out to for-profit businesses.

Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing again in the mid-1980s until the building's closure, the building's Windsor Square neighbors complained that patrons attending events at the Scottish Rite were parking on their streets and causing noise problems because the facility had only 237 parking spaces on site. Under the terms of the building's 1961 zoning permit, only nonprofit organizations were allowed to use space at the building.

Now the building is open again on a limited basis, with plans for greater use in the coming months.

Developer Morris N. Shaoulian, who leased the Park Mile facility in January of this year after entering into a joint venture with the Masons, has spent a considerable amount of money refurbishing the facility, re- placing the seats in the auditorium, making repairs, repainting the interior and taking down the chain link fence topped by razor wire that surrounded the building for much of the last decade.

Shaoulian, who has renamed the building the Wilshire International Pavilion, hopes not only to bring the Masons back to hold their meetings and expand the museum to include life-sized talking holograms of famous Masons like George Washington, but also rent out the building for public use of its theater and banquet facility.

Until then, however, he is content with the museum, as is Melville Nahin, the assistant personal representative of the Los Angeles Scottish Rite.

"We unfortunately could not comply with the requests of the homeowners. They were very happy to have things for which we did not charge. They didn't like it, so we lost the battle and closed up," he says. "Now we think we can comport with the rules. I'm very pleased that we will be able to open again.

"We are thrilled [Shaoulian] wants to have this museum," Nahin adds. "The Masons have a lot of history in the United States. We are very happy to have the world know about us."

According to curator Sean Foran, a secondary goal of the museum is to dispel myths about the Masons.

"The Masons' reputation is that the organization is veiled in secrecy," he says, "and it's not."

Representatives of the Windsor Square Association are taking a wait-and-see approach to the reopening of the Scottish Rite.

While supportive of the museum, they privately express apprehensions about what else Shaoulian has in mind for the building and whether those activities are permitted under the Park Mile Specific Plan, which governs use of the building.

The plan bars public assembly uses at properties in the area, and no variances have been granted by the city in its history.
Last edited by nichols on Tue May 15, 2007 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Nathan » Sun Dec 08, 2002 9:13 am

This is the best news for LA in a long time...The Scottish Rite Temple is one of the most handsome and evocative facades in town and now we can not only go in but...have a ModCom meeting in the refurbished auditorium?

And to be spoken to by holographic Masons? Wow! Shades of Hall of Presidents! Can Paul Frees narrate?! Will there be reenactments of the Gnostic-Theocratic "Killing of the King Ritual" with exploding holographic Kennedy heads while Hassan-I-Sabba and John Neely Bryan rear back their diaphanous heads and toast the GAOTU? Double wow!

Maybe that's a little OT. In any event, this is a first-rate building (Hail Millard Sheets!) and I like to think we have somebody on the inside, so to speak, to make sure it's getting a sensitive and historically correct remodel. In the preservation game, it's best to recall the old Masonic precept: "There is in nature one most potent force, by means whereof a single man, who could possess himself of it, and would know how to direct it, could revolutionize and change the face of the world."

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Postby Nathan » Sun Dec 08, 2002 7:08 pm

Ok, and I have to mention that the monumental sculptures are some of the last work by Albert Stewart. Oh yeah, and the building opened in October of '61. (Although the Smithsonian Archives for MSD relating to the Temple begin in '64...have the earlier years, for some hidden esoteric reason, simply been "lost"?...hmmm...)

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Postby nichols » Wed Oct 12, 2005 1:38 pm

Scottish Rite loses license

The 1963 Scottish Rite temple, designed by Millard Sheets with sculpture by John Svenson and Albert Stewart was operating recently as a rental hall and a museum. The city has revoked the permit that allowed this and the building will likely close. The current operator has wrapped it in black material and hung black flags...

Opposition video: http://www.windsorsquare.org/ScottishRites.html
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Postby Tony » Wed Oct 12, 2005 5:39 pm

Oh, no!

What a spectacular building! One of the most opulent interiors that I have ever seen. Was in pretty good shape when I saw it, including the dark passages below.

What will happen to it?

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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:06 am

I hate to imagine, but I would bet the next tenant will attempt to gut the interiors and 1700-seat theater in order to generalize the space for an office tenant.

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Postby nichols » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:27 am

A very influential neighborhood activist-type recently told me that he is floating the idea of conversion to apartments. He was very excited about how that solution would preserve the exterior. Of course, the spectacular 1963 interiors would go and there would likely be windows punched in those art-filled exterior walls....

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Postby Velas » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:42 am

oh NO!!!! this is terrrrrrible.
I still hadn't fully explored the masonic museum.
Aren't there any members of the "brotherhood" who can do something about this??
Why did the city revoke this permit?

Sometimes I think Los Angeles is just truly awful. any tiny speck of special is squashed and obliterated like a small gnat or fly.
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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:51 am

Those interiors are stunning. What's going on with that neighborhood? Why is it specifically attacking that one building over all others? What do the neighbors have against it?

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Postby nichols » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:16 am

Kevin Roderick weighs in on the matter:
http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2005/ ... cause.html
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Image


Did you watch the video of cars driving (very slowly) on public streets and people eating on public medians? Oh no. The sky is falling. :-{

In my charmingly decrepit Silver Lake neighborhood there are always beer cans in the street and hot rods in the alley and ghetto birds chop-chop-chopping above every nite. OH! and now there is a hobo sleeping under my house! Do you see me complaining to Mayor Antonio?

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Postby nichols » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:23 am

bbuuttt in the Windsor Square Assn's defense, the PARK MILE neighborhood has some special zoning that they worked in there long ago that forbids most Wilshire-like uses from that section of Wilshire Boulevard. It's so unnerving how Wilshire just stops for a little while there and picks up again... That's also why Perino's is no more. Scottish Rite was operating on a CONDITIONAL use permit and they didn't meet all the heavily enforced conditions. Like no noise..stuff like that. My neighborhood isn't so lucky - it's zoned ANYTHING GOES!

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I hear you, Chris...

Postby KevinEP » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:37 pm

It is hard to compare the occasional problems of these residents to those of us in urban Los Angeles.

That being said, I do understand the criticisms. If there were strict guidelines that weren't being followed, that's a problem.

On the other side, when one buys a house that abuts a property on Wilshire Blvd, can one really expect to live the country life forever? After all, is there any specific plan to prevent a 100 story tower going up next in the Scottish Rite's place? Would the adjacent homeowners be okay with that?

I did have to laugh at the shot of the guy with the dog eating lunch on the parkway during the Soul Train awards. With the amount of time it's onscreen, it must have made the photographer more apoplectic than a lot of the other violations.

But, is it against the law for all of us to picnic on the parkway? As I understand it, parkways are publicly owned.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:33 pm

administration@windsorsquare.org

To the residents of the Windsor Square Association:

I applaud your votes toward the architectural preservation of your community. It is indeed beautiful and historic. However I am disgusted by your efforts to villain-ize any tenant or visitor to the Scottish Rite Temple on Wilshire Boulevard.

How often are your streets flooded with camera crews and movie trucks, blocking traffic while filling the neighborhood with noise and floodlights? Perhaps you accept those trivial hindrances since the profits from those film crews are going straight into your pockets. Yet when a neighbor does the same thing, you cry to the mayor for new laws to prohibit that neighbor from making a living? How incredibly selfish, unjustifiable, and might I say racist, are your motives.

Need I remind you that Windsor Square is not situated on a country lane? You chose to live half a block from Wilshire Boulevard (just as I did) and next door to the Scottish Rite Temple.

Leave the Scottish Rite Temple alone. I reprove your attempts to destroy the history of the building and its glorious architecture.

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Scottish Rite operators lock out union, break contract.

Postby wmldwilly » Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:34 am

I don't have the entire story but I do know this: My local entertainment labor union (the IATSE Local #33) have been illegally locked out of the Scottish Rite temple, a facility they have held a contract with to provide services for many years. The current facility management is flagrantly breaking a contract.

I don't know the particulars beyond that, and it makes me angry. They'd BETTER not be expecting any help from the community or the local governments with their building and it's problems - This community largely survives on the entertainment business, and when contracts are ignored and people put out of work in favor of reducing middle class jobs to minimum wage with no benefits we ALL lose.

Just my two cents - and I even registered here just to offer them up.

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I often wondered

Postby modfan » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:22 am

why there is still vacant land along that stretch of Wilshire Bl. from approx. Wilton to Highland, perhaps this is the reason the 'onerus' conditions put upon the area by the resident associations. Maybe they oughta just develop it all as mini storage warehouses-not a lot of folks to come by then can even 'convert' the Scottish Rite to that use (altho the inside would have to be gutted) and any other structures for that use that would be put up would look pretty bland, but there wouldn't be too much 'people' activity.

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Postby nichols » Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:50 am

The residents of the greater Windsor Square area have been succesful in limiting almost all uses from their neighborhood.

There is something called the "Park Mile Specific Plan" that severely limits development along that stretch of Wilshire.

Here, look:
Image

Everything in pink (basically every parcel on both sides of Wilshire from Wilton to Highland) is in the zone and the following uses are

"EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED"

Business college, professional, scientific, or language
school or college, Hotels (including motels) and apartment hotels, Restaurants or prescription pharmacies, Counseling and referral facilities,
Child-care facilities, nursery schools, grammar schools, junior high schools, or high schools, Churches or other religious institutions, Any residential uses, Any signs, Automated vending machines (except pay telephones), including automated teller machines, Christmas Tree sales, Airports or aircraft landing fields, Cemeteries, Correctional institutions, Land reclamation projects, Research and development center for experimental or scientific investigation, Trailer parks and mobile home parks, Stores, shops, or other establishments where goods, wares
or merchandise are displayed, sold or serviced, Long-term health facilities, including convalescent homes or rest homes, homes for aged persons or special care homes, or nursing homes, Mortuaries and columbariums, Motion picture studios, Rescue missions, Hotels, motels, apartment hotels, or motor lodges, Heliports and helistops, Barber shops, Beauty shops, Book and magazine stores, new only, Cafe or coffee shops, Duplicating and copying businesses, Florist or flower shops, Medical or dental laboratories, Private museums or galleries, Restaurants or other eating and drinking places, Entertainment ticket offices, Tobacco shops...

http://www.lacity.org/PLN/complan/specp ... lepage.htm

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Postby nichols » Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:01 am

The issue with Scottish Rite is that he lost his conditional use permit and looks like he will have to close up shop. It's very likely that he had to turn away concerts, film shoots, etc. that he had booked. I hope he returns any fees that may have been prepaid.

By closing this place down, the entertainment industry loses a unique film location - community groups (outside of the Windsor Square Assn) lose a place to hold events - like graduations and music concerts, the architectural community loses a spectacular building by Millard Sheets, the operator loses a bunch of money and the likely-soon-to-be-fenced-and-forgotten temple becomes a hobo magnet once again. Is that such a better scenario than the guy eating a sandwich on the landscaped median?

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Well then

Postby modfan » Wed Oct 19, 2005 1:58 pm

it seems like that just leaves-mini storage warehouses and used book stores.

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The prohibition against schools...

Postby KevinEP » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:02 pm

means basically nothing, because the board of LAUSD has exempted itself from local L.A. City zoning requirements.

A school can be built anywhere, in any zone, regardless of restrictions like this specific plan.

With LAUSD being one of of the biggest destroyers of historic L.A., I say, put a New York-style school on every one of these vacant parcels.

Save the vitality of some other living neighborhood (like Echo Park).

Kevin

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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Dec 20, 2005 5:03 pm

Sounds like the neighborhood has their own plans for this building. Although the Hancock Park/Windsor Square Residential Associations wish to keep it under the radar, I think they're failing. I keep hearing the murmurs of gutting the property for residential conversion and knocking holes in the facade for windows and balconies.

That would would entail destroying the Millard Sheets interior murals, travertine marble, mosaics, chandeliers, and etc. Not to mention destroying the geometrically balanced exterior with enormous window and balcony holes.

Why can't those nosy neighbors leave Wilshire's historic structures alone! It's Wilshire fer cryenoutloud!

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Postby Velas » Tue Dec 20, 2005 5:14 pm

we need a windsor park mole to usurp them all!

that plan map is FAR OUT.

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I for one

Postby modfan » Wed Dec 21, 2005 8:47 am

Would find a residential use kinda inappropriate. All those windows and balcony's fronting busy Wilshire Bl.?-Doesn't seem like much of a condo/apt selling point to me. What ever the ultimate fate is-somehow at least save the components of the building in particular the Millard Sheets artwork.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Wed Dec 21, 2005 10:56 am

If anyone out there has not seen the interiors, walk in someday and say hello. The museum dedicated to Scottish Rites ceremonies may be closed by now, but I think there is still a functioning office on the premises for the building's managers. Don't be duplicitous about it, but go in, introduce yourself, and see how far you can wander about. The grand lobby is stunning as are the Sheets murals and chandeliers. It's an inspiring space.

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Or, do you guys just want to wear your fez'es???

Postby losfeliz » Wed Dec 21, 2005 3:15 pm

Just read through this whole story in shock and then went into even deeper shock when I read the "Park Mile Specific Plan"

Don't want to add gasoline to the fire (what, me?) but that plan just screams anti-Korean-small-business. Because, face it, Korean -- or Asian -- small business development is what is alive and happening on Wilshire Blvd., like it or not.

Anyway, that plan cuts to the core problem in Los Angeles. Suburban-mentality people living in a city -- and loathing the mess and uncontrolled activity that cities bring.

I hope Eric will present this project at the next ModCom meeting and we can develop an action plan to weigh in positively for this building. We lost the Ambassador. Nothing, repeat, nothing is sacred in this 'burg.

DL

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:06 pm

There was an incredibly large event there last week.
Would the parking be addressed by using the lots for the Church and the Ebell, across the street?

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Larchmont Chronicle; September 29, 2006

Postby Lynxwiler » Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:19 pm

Future looks dim for the Scottish Rite. I still hear murmurs from neighbors who want to gut the temple interior for apartments... Jeez!

------------------------------

SCOTTISH RITE RULING CURBS OCCUPANCY; 25-YEAR BATTLE ENDS

After months of delays and appeals, the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Center, 4357 Wilshire Blvd., received an order on Sept. 20 forbidding the leasee to lease the building for commercial use.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien signed a judgment which revokes the building’s certificate of occupancy.

Windsor Square Association president Michael Genewick said, “at last the long-awaited enforcement of the zoning laws is taking place. Some neighbors have been enduring these violations for more than 25 years, so enforcement is long overdue.â€￾

Genewick praised efforts by the city, especially the city attorney’s office, for its efforts to “thwart the Scottish Rite tenant’s ceaseless attempts to delay the final judgment day.â€￾

Genewick added, “City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and his lawyers in the Land Use Division are to be thanked for resisting the delaying tactics of the Scottish Rite and its lawyers.

“There are many allowable uses for this Park Mile property, and the surrounding communities hope the Scottish Rite will work with the city and other to use its property in one of the many allowable legal ways,â€￾ he added.

O’Brien signed a judgment in each of two Scottish Rite cases pending since 2004 and 2005.

In the first case, Los Angeles Scottish Rite Center LLC had challenged the conditions by the city to cease holding public events because the building was not being operated in compliance with the zoning restrictions.

Complaints about these zoning violations date back to the early 1980s, and the building’s owners previously were issued corrective conditions by the city in 1993.

Rather than comply in 1993, the owners closed the building and continued to conduct Scottish Rite activities in West Los Angeles. In 2002, the empty building was leased to the for-profit Scottish Rite Center entity, which rented out the building for commercial events in violation of the zoning law as well as the 1993 conditions.

These problems led to numerous city citations and extensive public hearings, followed by the imposition by the city of the revised conditions in April, 2004.

In the second case, the same Scottish Rite lessee challenged the city’s 2005 revocation action.

The city’s 2005 revocation order was issued, again after extensive public hearings, because the owners had failed to comply with the city’s 2004 corrective conditions and because the nuisance activities continued.

Enforcement of the 2005 revocation had been delayed for the past year while the lawsuits were pending.

The city’s Department of Building and Safety is expected to seek compliance with the city’s original revocation order, which means that no further activities can be undertaken within the building without a certificate of occupancy.

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Postby nichols » Tue May 15, 2007 11:51 am

Can't believe it took this long, but the Scottish Rite is FOR SALE.
Image
LARCHMONT CHRONICLE
Owners put Scottish Rite building on the market

By Jane Gilman

The Scottish Rite Cathedral Association, owner of the block-long Masonic lodge building on Wilshire Blvd., is planning to sell the property.

List price on the four-story, 90,000 square foot building opened by the Masons in 1961 had not been determined as the Larchmont Chronicle went to press.

According to Esther Kim of the Coldwell Banker Wilshire office that is listing the property, there are some legal issues to be resolved before a sale will proceed.

The 47-year-old building, between Plymouth and Lucerne boulevards, is in the Park Mile Specific Plan area. The “CRâ€￾ (commercial, restricted) zoning in the Park Mile limits allowable uses to offices, apartments, nonprofit clubs or lodges, or a nonprofit museum or library.

Windsor Square Association vice president John Welborne said “Park Mile zoning does not allow restaurants, catering or banquet facilities, auditoriums, or retail.â€￾...

http://www.larchmontchronicle.com/Archi ... hiveID=715

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Postby Lynxwiler » Wed May 16, 2007 7:11 am

Good God, they're going to demo it for apartments! I can see it coming on the horizon.

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Fri May 18, 2007 6:40 am

Lynxwiler wrote:Good God, they're going to demo it for apartments! I can see it coming on the horizon.


Such a nice building - but, yes, such seems to be the only viable solution.
I'll be sorry to see it go.

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Postby nichols » Sat May 19, 2007 9:53 pm

See my October 13 post above.


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