El Royale Apartments

(1929)* – View showing the high-rise El Royale apartment building shortly after it was built at 450 N. Rossmore Avenue. Note the large roof-mounted neon sign.  


Historical Notes

In August 1929, the Barco Investment Company announced in the Los Angeles Times that construction of a 12-story, Class A apartment house had begun at the southeast corner of Rossmore and Rosewood Avenues. The company hired William Douglas Lee, the iconic architect of the Chateau Marmont and many other LA buildings, including what is now the Downtown Women’s Center (one of the many structures designed during a long partnership with developer Florence Casler).

When the white concrete building opened in 1929, it boasted the fanciful Spanish/French Rococo/Renaissance architecture evident in many of Douglas's buildings and, perhaps acquiescing to gaudier California impulses, had acquired a pretentious name—The El Royale—displayed in a pistachio green neon sign on the rooftop. The building, with its parquet and marble floors, cornice moldings and heavy chandeliers, was described as “a decorous setting of inimitable beauty.”*




(1931)^ - View showing a golf tournament at the Wilshire Country Club with the El Royale Apartments seen in the background (designed in 1928 by William Douglas Lee, built in 1929).  


Historical Notes

Situated in prestigious Hancock Park immediately opposite the exclusive Wilshire Country Club, the El Royale’s enviable address has long been heralded as an enclave for a fortunate few.




(2012)^ - The back and side of the El Royale Apartments, 450 N. Rossmore Ave., in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 309.  


Historical Notes

The El Royale became the go-to home-away-from-home for blue blood East Coasters “wintering” in California. Actors including Clark Gable, Loretta Young (with whom Gable had a secret child), Harry Langdon, and Helen Morgan, and writer William Faulkner all called the El Royale home.

One of the most popular tenants during the 1930s was the notorious actor and Mob associate George Raft, who lived in one of the penthouses and even threw a birthday party for a friend’s child in the reception room.**




(2017)* - View showing the El Royale Apartments, located on the SE corner of Rossmore and Rosewood avenues.  


Historical Notes

In the 1950s, the building was bought by the Scott family. It would stay in their hands for more than 50 years, bringing a much needed stability and warmth. Matriarch Martha Scott ran the El Royale as if its tenants were extended family, fostering a tight-knit community within the ornate halls. During the ’60s and ’70s, many wealthy elderly people moved into the El Royale, downsizing from nearby mansions.**




(2017)* – Close-up detail view showing the front entrance to the El Royale Apartments at 450 N. Rossmore Ave.  It is constructed of reinforced concrete with stucco finish and terra-cotta decorations. Architect: W. Douglas Lee.  


Historical Notes

Martha Scott died in 2009. In 2012, her children sold the building to Kamran Hakim and Farhad Eshaghpour for $29.5 million dollars. Fittingly, Hakim is one of the biggest landlords in New York City, the city whose glamour and style the El Royale aspired to from its inception.*




(2010s)^ – View looking up showing roofline of the El Royale Apartments. Photo courtesy of El Royal Apartments  


Historical Notes

The apartment building is known as a home for celebrities, and for its iconic green neon rooftop sign, which had been unlit for 50 years. The rococo details used by William Douglas Lee throughout the exterior and interior of the building are what visitors initially find most striking when they first lay eyes upon the majestic El Royale.

The El Royale Apartment Building was declared LA Historic-Cultural Landmark No. 309 in 1998 (Click HERE to see complete listing).

Stars like Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow, Uma Thurman, Jack Black, Ellen Page, and Josh Brolin have lived at the El Royale. It was said that Katie Holmes, during her courtship with Tom Cruise, would give Scientology tracts to the doorman to hand out to other tenants. Recently, it was reported that Melanie Griffith was touring the building for her daughter, Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson.

Local legend Huell Howser lived at the El Royale from the 1980s until his death. He loved the building, especially in winter, when the sky was clear and the ocean could be spotted from the upper floors, and the whole city took on a “medieval apricot glow.” *



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