Argyle Avenue looking north into the Hollywood Hills.
History of the Argyle Avenue Neighborhood
Argyle Avenue and the surrounding streets comprise one of Hollywood's most historic residential neighborhoods. Its charming, eclectic mix of Spanish Revival, Hollywood Gothic, Craftsman and Mid-Century Modern architecture gives it a quintessentially Los Angeles feel.
Like most of surrounding Hollywood, the neighborhood's development was (and remains) closely tied to the motion picture industry. In 1917 Japanese-American silent film star Sessue Hayakawa lived in the large mansion known as Glengarry Castle (originally built by Dr. Alfred Schloesser) on the corner of Argyle and Franklin; sadly, it was demolished in 1956, after serving for a time as a synagogue for Temple Israel of Hollywood. Fortunately, Castle Argyle, an imposing structure also built by Schloesser at the opposite corner of Argyle and Franklin, remains; it was one of the many large-scale apartment buildings constructed in the 1920s for the booming silent movie community. (Castle Argyle is now operated as an affordable housing community by The Be Group, which graciously permits the Argyle Civic Association to use the library as a meeting room.)
The landmark Hollywood Tower, just across Franklin at Vista del Mar, was built by actor George Raft and has housed many rising stars over the years. One distinguished resident of the community was leftist playwright Bertolt Brecht, who moved into an apartment at 1954 Argyle Avenue when he arrived in Los Angeles after leaving Nazi Germany in the 1940s. Argyle Avenue got an indirect claim to fame in 1960 when the hit single "Alley Oop" was released. It was recorded by the Hollywood Argyles, a group that took its name from the recording studio on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue.
The decline suffered by Hollywood during the 1970s and 1980s was particularly felt in the Argyle Avenue neighborhood, as continued neglect led to this freeway-convenient area becoming a haven for street crime and gang activity. Thanks in large part to the determination of the Argyle Civic Association, this historic neighborhood has once again become a livable community, enjoying the security and safety its residents deserve.
Within a short walk from many of Hollywood's major attractions and landmarks—including the Pantages Theater, the Arclight/Cinerama Dome, and the Capitol Records Building—the Argyle Avenue neighborhood is proud to be part of a revitalized downtown Hollywood.
For more on the history of the Argyle Avenue neighborhood, we highly recommend Gregory Paul Williams's excellent book, The Story of Hollywood.
History of the Argyle Civic Association
The Argyle Civic Association was founded in the early 1990s by noted Hollywood community activist Fran Reichenbach along with Gene Austin, Roy Kennish, Sally Little, Merle Singer and others. By 1995, the group had become cohesive enough to apply for official non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) corporation.
In the past two and a half decades, the ACA has targeted neighborhood issues and accomplished goals that make it one of the most active and responsive groups of its kind in Los Angeles. Through the vision of its board, the persistence of its officers, the support of its community, and the dedication of its members, the ACA continues to play a vital role in the ongoing renewal of Hollywood.