West Hollywood gay club on endangered list; NYC nods to Stonewall, rainbow flag

Posted on 24 Jun 2015 at 2:53pm

The Factory, site of a former gay club in West Hollywood, faces the threat of demolition. Photo credit: Hunter Kerhart

The National Trust for Historic Preservation today (Wednesday, June 24) released its annual list of the eleven most endangered historic sites in the country. Among them is the Factory, a West Hollywood, Ca. building once home to the gay club Studio One.

Originally built for major movie camera manufacturer Mitchell Camera Corporation in 1929, the building later housed a gay club called Studio One. Founded in 1974 by Scott Forbes, an out Beverly Hills optometrist, as a haven for gay men it hosted Patti LaBelle, Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli and fundraisers throughout the AIDS epidemic, according to the West Hollywood Heritage Project.

“Studio One is designed and conceived for… gay male people. Any straight people here are guests of the gay community!” Forbes said of the club. It closed in 1993.

Like other listings – including Fort Worth’s Stockyards and the Grand Canyon – it’s threatened at the hands of developers seeking to cultivate a larger tax base. In this case, the Factory faces the threat of demolition to make way for a pedestrian walkway toward a planned hotel.

On the other side of the coast, in New York City, LGBT history is being preserved. The historic Stonewall Inn was given a historic preservation designation by the city’s historic landmarks commission. The Inn, fortunately, does not face the threat of demolition like the Factory. (That can’t be said, however, for the rest of the city.) The inn is already located in Greenwich Village Historic District, designated as an historic site by the city and the National Register of Historic Places. According to The New York Times, advocates said the city’s designation was necessary to preserve and recognize the historic site.

“It must be protected against rapacious developers who would destroy the history of this sacred place and all it represents,” said Letitia James, the city’s public advocate.

In another nod to LGBT history, the Museum of Modern Art of New York acquired artist Gilbert Baker’s iconic rainbow flag for its collection.

“We’re proud the MoMA collection now includes this powerful design milestone,” wrote museum curators Paola Antonelli and Michelle Millar Fisher in a statement, “and there’s no more perfect time to share this news than during global celebrations for Gay Pride Month.”

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