03.14.09 Buildings We Love . . . the Masonic Hall at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (Hollywood Forever) was established in 1899 by one Mr. Isaac Van Nuys, a farmer and businessman who bought one hundred acres between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue to the chagrin of community residents who were apparently very unhappy at the prospect of graves in their backyard. (Residents, however, grew to appreciate the grounds eventually with a sort of macabre pride in having famous “neighbors” such as Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks).

In 1931, the Southland Masonic Lodge moved into one of a group of Renaissance Revival buildings that stand at the cemetery gates on the Santa Monica side. (Not to be confused with the other stocky, stoic, Spanish-infused Renaissance Revival tower nearby, which houses the Eliza Otis chimes. Yes, that Otis.) These days, the Masonic Hall is mostly used for theater productions, small events and music shows – and possibly the occasional, secret underground grand knights of templar ceremonies involving sacrifices and large hats (but that’s just speculation).

Beyond the old Hollywood ghostliness of the place – the hulking stone walls, the meticulous mosaic tilework and the beautiful darkwood detailing inside – we especially adore the featured Mies Barcelona chairs in the sitting lounge off the main hall, the three-dimensional, rainbow pentagram pendant light in the main hall (scale slightly off), and the spooky, empty-of-all-human-life cemetery photographs hanging – off kilter – on the stairwell walls. Definitely visit the place if you get a chance.

And thanks for the extra photos Robyn.

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