By Marni Epstein
The Public Storage facility sitting on the edge of Silver Lake isn’t like most storage facilities. The building is striking: it’s impressively tall, has Gothic detailing surrounding the building on all sides, and ascends with ‘wedding-cake’ stepped set-backs. The building’s ornate details are clearly a nod to the excesses of the Roaring Twenties. The American Storage Building, as it was known, was built in 1928 by renowned L.A. architect Arthur E. Harvey. Harvey also built Chateau Elysee (Church of Scientology Celebrity Center) and the Widner House in Los Feliz.
I used to pass the American Storage Building on Beverly Boulevard every day on my commute and wonder how such a beautiful building fell to become just a storage facility? Turns out, the joke is on me because this impressive structure has, from day one, been a storage facility, notes Water and Power. Along with storage space, this 13-story building also hosted the Bud Murray School for Stage as well as Lewis S. Hart Auctioneer in the ‘20s.
Contrary to what Storage Wars says, the business of storage isn’t all that titillating. However, this historic building in the at 3636 Beverly has a mystique which originates from excesses of the Prohibition Era. The building’s top floor played host to many a speak-easy over the years, beginning with “The Roof Garden” as noted in an old flyer found by LA Hey Day. Then shortly thereafter it became Thirteenth Heaven, according to a December 1928 L.A. Times article. At this celestially themed nightclub, elevator operators dressed as St. Peter and waiters wore wings. In 1931, according to Water and Power, the Los Angeles Press Club moved in.
It was inside the Press Club that an illegal brew operation was found. The club was raided in March of 1931 upon which 203 bottles of beer and 21 gallon crocks of beer mash were found. Five waiters were arrested and held on $250 bail, reported the LA Times.
With the immense popularity of craft breweries on the Eastside today, it’s difficult to imagine a Prohibition era where small batch brewers and distillers were vilified. 3636 Beverly Blvd stores pieces of a bygone era – Los Angeles history infinitely more valuable than any old couch or excess patio furniture.
Marni Epstein Epstein is an entertainment, music, and lifestyle Journalist and resident of Echo Park. She has previously worked in the film and digital media industries with FOX and Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is currently also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.