Sunset Tower (West Hollywood)

 
(1932)* - View looking northwest showing the Sunset Tower Apartment Building located on Sunset Boulevard with the Hollywood Hills in the background. Note how the area around Sunset Boulevard is still largely residential.  

 

Historical Notes

Designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant, opened in 1931, the Sunset Tower  is considered one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the Los Angeles area. In its early years, it was the residence of many Hollywood celebrities, including John Wayne and Howard Hughes.^

 

 

 

 
(1930s)^^ – View looking down toward the Sunset Tower through a Eucalyptus Tree. The Art Deco apartment building is located at 8358 Sunset Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

The building was renamed the Sunset Tower Hotel in 2004, after going through several incarnations as the infamous St. James’s Club and The Argyle. Its dramatic setting and elegant Art Deco architecture, along with its proximity to famous restaurants and nightclubs of the 1930s and 1940s, contributed to its landmark status.

 

 

 

 
(ca. 1930)***^ - View of the Sunset Strip in the early 1930s. The Sunset Tower Apartment Building is the tallest building in the area. Click HERE to see contemporary view.  

 

 

 

 

 
(1933)^^ - Sunset Tower Apartments as seen from a gas station across the street. Built partly above and partly below the Strip, the Sunset Tower apartment building was the tallest thing going on the strip when it was built in 1931.  

 

Historical Notes

Originally operated as a luxury apartment hotel, it was one of the first high-rise reinforced concrete buildings in California. When it was completed in August 1931 at a cost of $750,000, the Los Angeles Times reported: "What is described to be the tallest apartment-house in Los Angeles County, rising 15 stories or 195 feet, was completed last week at Kings Road and Sunset Boulevard by W.I. Moffett, general contractor, for E.M. Fleming, owner."^

 

 

 

 
(1939)^^ – Early model cars are parked on Sunset Boulevard in front of the Sunset Tower.  

 

Historical Notes

In 1933, the Los Angeles Times ran an article about the trend toward luxurious penthouse apartments in the city and noted that Sunset Tower boasted the city's highest penthouse: "It is the highest in the city and due to the location of the fifteen-story structure that supports it, its tenants live on a level with the tower of the Los Angeles City Hall. Imagine the view!" ^

 

 

 

 
(1939)^^ – Close-up view showing the front entrance of the Sunset Tower.  

 

Historical Notes

Marketing the building to Hollywood celebrities, an advertisement in the February 1938 issue of the Screen Actors Guild magazine read: "Faultless in Appointment-The Ultimate in Privacy . . . Hollywood's Most Distinguished Address."

 

 

 

 
(1930s)* - An Art Deco masterpiece, the Sunset Tower 'Luxury' Apartments, located at 8358 Sunset Boulevard.    

 

Historical Notes

John Wayne, Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Buss and novelist James Wohl lived in the penthouse at different times, and Hughes reportedly also rented some of the lower apartments for his girlfriends or mistresses. Other former residents include Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Caine, Quincy Jones, Roger Moore, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Billie Burke, Joseph Schenck, Paulette Goddard, Zasu Pitts, George Stevens, Preston Sturges, and Carol Kane.^

 

 

 

 
(1936)* – The art deco Sunset Tower is considered one of the finest examples of the Streamline Moderne form of Art Deco architecture in Southern California.  

 

Historical Notes

In their guide to Los Angeles architecture, David Gebhard and Robert Winter wrote that "this tower is a first class monument of the Zig Zag Moderne and as much an emblem of Hollywood as the Hollywood sign."  It is situated in a commanding location on the Sunset Strip with views of the city and is decorated with plaster friezes of plants, animals, zeppelins, legendary creatures and Adam and Eve.^

 

 

 

 
(2009)^ – Close-up detail view showing the Zig-Zag design on the windows of the Art Deco Sunset Tower.  

 

Historical Notes

The building is decorated with plaster friezes of plants, animals, zeppelins, mythological creatures and Adam and Eve.

 

 

 

 
(2009)^ – Close-up detail view showing the bas-relief figures and Art Deco Zig-Zag design of the Sunset Tower.  

 

Historical Notes

Architect Leland Bryant specialized in luxury apartments, but the Sunset Tower was his crowning achievement. His work was predominantly in Period Revival, but with this building he proved that he was equally adept with the then contemporary Deco style.*

 

 

 

 
(1940s)**^ – View looking up at the Sunset Tower Apartments from the De Longpre Avenue side of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

To attract a demanding clientele, the Sunset Tower incorporated the latest in both technology and design. There were modern conveniences, like outlets in every bathroom for electric shavers, and the windows were made larger to take advantage of the spectacular views.*

 

 

 

 
(1955)* - Full view of the Sunset Tower Apartments showing the Art Deco design details, especially at the top of the building.  

 

Historical Notes

The Sunset Tower is a Hollywood landmark. Up to the 1950s it was as much a tourist attraction as the Hollywood sign itself. It has appeared in a number of films, including The Italian Job, Get Shorty, The Player and Strange Days. Its first literary mention was in Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely (1940). The film version of that novel, Murder, My Sweet, released four years later, was its first screen reference..*

 

 

 

 
(1975)*^ - Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin looks out from the Continental Hyatt House with the Sunset Tower seen across the street. There is a framed blow-up of this picture in the lobby of the Sunset Tower.  

 

Historical Notes

Rock bands and hotels have a long and checkered history, one that has tended to involve property damage. There is the oft-told story about the members of Led Zeppelin riding motorcycles through the lobby of the Chateau Marmont, also on the Strip.. 

 

 

 
(1979)* - Looking out upon West Hollywood from a balcony at the Sunset Hyatt Hotel (later Andaz West Hollywood), showing the neighborhood and the iconic Sunset Tower; Downtown Los Angeles is partially visible through the haze on the right.  

 

Historical Notes

After a period of decline in the early 1980s, the building was renovated and has been operated as a luxury hotel under the names The St. James's Club, The Argyle, and most recently the Sunset Tower Hotel.

 

 

 

 
(1970s)* – Sunset Towers with its Art Deco zig-zag decorative effect.  

 

Historical Notes

Sunset Tower is renowned for its Vanity Fair Oscar party and the celebrities who have lived or stayed there,

 

 

 

 
(2005)*^ – View showing the Sunset Tower Hotel located at 8358 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.  

 

Historical Notes

The building was saved from deterioration and possible demolition when it was purchased in 1985 from architect David Lawrence Gray, FAIA by Peter de Savary who promised to "lovingly restore" the building to its former glory by spending $25 million to convert the building into the first American branch of his luxury hotel chain, the St. James's Club.

The Lancaster Group purchased the hotel from de Savary in 1992, renaming it the Argyle.

In 2004, Jeff Klein purchased the hotel.  Klein hired designer Paul Fortune to renovate the hotel, adding more modern amenities, and restored its original name.^

 

 

 

 
(2010s)* – Night view of the Sunset Tower Hotel, 8358 Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.  

 

Historical Notes

Sunset Tower was a contemporary of some of LA’s most treasured examples of Art Deco architecture, like the Bullocks Wilshire department store, the Wiltern Theatre on Wilshire and the Eastern Columbia building downtown. On close inspection though, Sunset Tower may be a more intriguing example of the Art Deco style’s inspirations than some of those better known buildings.^

 

 

 

 
(2011)^ - Sunset Tower, 8358 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, with the Downtwon LA skyline in the background.  

 

Historical Notes

The Sunset Tower building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

 

 

 

 
(2016)^ – Looking up to the top of the Sunset Tower from in front of the Best Western on Sunset Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 70's, the building was seen on the popular detective show "Cannnon", as Cannon's apartment building. As the St. James, it housed a private club, hotel and restaurant, with members that included Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor, and David Bowie.It was also the locale for memorable poolside scenes from the movie 1992 "The Player", and has also appeared in "The Italian Job", "Get Shorty" and "Strange Days". Leonardo DiCaprio and friends were spotted at the Fenix bar at the Argyle.*

 

 

 

 
(2018)^– Sunset Tower Hotel, located on the south side of the strip at 8358 Sunset Boulevard.  

 

Historical Notes

In the 1990's the Sunset Tower Hotel was known as the Argyle Hotel. Before that it was known as the St. James Club and Hotel, a grand 13 story, the Strip's 1st high-rise (built in 1931), and one of Hollywood 's best examples of Art Deco design. Virtually every star in Hollywood stayed here at one time or another. It was a favorite of Howard Hughes, who kept a number of suites here fore his various girlfriends; other guest included Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and John Wayne (who is said to have kept a cow on the balcony outside his penthouse suite for fresh milk).

 

 

 

 
(2020)^.^ – The beautiful Art Deco Sunset Tower as seen from across the street. Photo by Don Saban  

 

Historical Notes

Designed in 1929 by architect Leland A. Bryant, opened in 1931, the Sunset Tower  is considered one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the Los Angeles area.

 

 

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