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Woman’s Club of Hollywood

The Woman’s Club of Hollywood has been an institution since 1905, when a handful of local ladies convened with the intent to improve the “social, intellectual, and civic life of Hollywood.” 

The Woman's Club of Hollywood
The Woman's Club of Hollywood (California State Library)

Their efforts began with establishing the first public library. That June, the Club hosted a fundraiser at the Hotel Hollywood resulting in the donation of 203 books, which filled a temporary library on Cahuenga Boulevard as they built a permanent structure at the northwest corner of Prospect and Ivar, land donated by “Mother of Hollywood” Daeida Wilcox Beveridge. In return, the Club was authorized to hold meetings in the basement.

Hollywood's first public library
Hollywood's first public library (CA State)

As membership boomed into the hundreds, the women needed their own clubhouse. In 1914, they purchased a plot of land at 7078 Hollywood Boulevard just east of La Brea Avenue and commissioned architect Arthur R. Kelly, who went on to build Arthur Letts Jr.’s estate in Holmby Hills — now known as the Playboy Mansion. 

The clubhouse, “dedicated to every woman in Hollywood,” stood for the “betterment of home, school, district, and state, and thus a better universe,” noted Woman’s Club president Mrs. Cassius Smith at the cornerstone ceremony (which made the front page of the Los Angeles Times on June 4, 1914.

Woman's Club of Hollywood groundbreaking
Mrs. Cassius Smith (center) at the cornerstone ceremony

Among the members who joined her on the Building Committee: Mrs. Rollin B. Lane (homeowner of Holly Chateau, now the Magic Castle) and Maud Gage Baum, wife of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum. The couple lived with their dog Toto at Ozcot, their family residence on Cherokee and Yucca.

The Spanish-Colonial structure was two stories, with arches along the ground level and ornamental iron balconies at the second-floor windows. In the rear was a courtyard and later, an auditorium that could seat a thousand people.

The first floor comprised a reception room (with tiled fireplace donated by the Batchelder Company), two committee rooms, a ladies dressing room (done in ivory and rose), and coatroom for male visitors.

Two wide staircases led upstairs to a lounge, banquet hall, and kitchen equipped to serve a party of four hundred.

Woman's Club of Hollywood interior
clubhouse interior (Woman's Club 1923 yearbook)

Over the decades, the Woman’s Club was instrumental in organizing the Hollywood Bowl and Hollywood Studio Club, a safe place for aspiring actresses to live. During both world wars, they turned the clubhouse into a Red Cross center for nurses.

However, as more women joined the workforce, the Club had to downsize. In 1946, they sold the opulent clubhouse (which was demolished twenty years later in 1966) and built a smaller one around the corner at 1749 La Brea, on the same property as the former Hollywood School for Girls, alma mater of Jean Harlow.

Woman's Club of Hollywood sketch
sketch of new Woman's Club (1948)

Nearly eight decades later, the Woman’s Club of Hollywood remains a charitable, civic, and social organization, now with an emphasis on “the preservation and celebration of our historic club and property.”


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