A crowd of people in front of building

From it’s magnificent unveiling in 1926 to it’s modern-day revival, The MacArthur has long been one of the most important architectural landmarks in Los Angeles history.

Completed in 1926, The MacArthur was the crown jewel of one of Los Angeles’ most affluent neighborhoods at the time, Westlake Park. The building was built as a private member’s club (Elks Lodge No. 99) and hosted some of the most influential and prominent dignitaries and celebrities of the time.

In 1966, the building was sold to the Baur family. Kay and Gene Baur, who lived in Westlake, had the foresight to open up the building to the public, renaming it Park Plaza and offering it as one of the City’s most spectacular events and performance venues. In addition to events, it was used as one of the most filmed locations outside of the major studios. New York, New York (1977), Stripes (1981), Naked Gun (1990), Chaplin (1992), Reservoir Dogs (1992), The Mask (1994), Prestige (2006), Drive (2011), Gangster Squad (2013), and Mank (2020)  are just a few of the hundreds of movies, television, music videos and commercials filmed at the building.

Arial view of building
Old photo of building
Old photo of building

In the late 1970’s and through the 1980’s, as non-mainstream music and subculture became more pervasive in Los Angeles, the Park Plaza hosted some of LA’s most experiential entertainment. The neighborhood was full of creative as it was a hub for art and dance schools including Otis College of Arts and Design, Chouinard Arts Institute, Art Center and Design, and Denishawn. There was a time when Park Plaza guests such as David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and John Baldessari might run into Muhammed Ali, who would be training in the building, Tony Alva and the Dogtown and Z-boys skating on a quarter pipe in the Elks Ballroom or a relatively unknown rap group called the Beastie Boys performing in the historic lobby. Perry Farrell, lead singer of the band Jane’s Addiction, once said that the diversity of people, culture, and programming at the Park Plaza was an inspiration to create Lollapalooza music festival. The connection to music and the arts remains strong today with local cultural and arts destinations including the Levitt Pavilion in the park, LACMA’s satellite gallery at Charles E. White Elementary, Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth Theatre, and the non-profit Art Division.

Today, the Westlake neighborhood has the second highest density of any community in Los Angeles. It is ethnically and economically diverse with a high Latinx community. It is a wonderful opportunity to not only bring back elements of the MacArthur’s rich social and entertainment past, while also focusing on incorporating the cultural diversity that has changed the neighborhood around it. This is achieved by making The MacArthur a Los Angeles landmark for a broad span of cultural and educational exhibitions, an event center for not only large global corporations but also for local community groups, and a venue for recurring music and arts programming that appeals to different and diverse audiences.

Old photo of hall
Old photo of hall
Old photo of room
Student drawing
Stendahl Art Galleries
Student draw a horse
Bowling alley
Old photo of path along lake