On August 10, 2014 an article entitled “Builder to save old hotel’s façade” appeared in the Sun-Sentinel and shortly thereafter in the Miami Herald, and in an Orlando newspaper. Unfortunately the article was filled with errors (disinformation?), so I wrote the papers refuting them but my letter wasn’t published. Perhaps it’s too long. In any case, people who did read it were impressed and sorry it wasn’t made public, so I’m putting it here, very slightly condensed. I think my comments will suggest what I am rebutting.
Following the letter are various events from Augusts past.
Here’s my letter:
“It is sad enough to allow a historic landmark to be destroyed, but it is really shameful to adjust history to suit your purpose. I refer to the excuses given for plans to demolish most of the Great Southern Hotel, built by city founder Joseph W. Young, Jr. , leaving only the entrance façade as a forlorn attachment to an out-of-scale 19-story erection. An article by Susannah Bryan and Robert Nolin begins : “there were no halcyon days of balls, debutantes or dignitaries. “ Refuting this would take a paragraph, but in fact the Great Southern Hotel had a ballroom, Hollywood never had any debutantes, and as for “dignitaries,” this is too sweeping to cover in a letter. No, Hollywood had no debutantes to strut in the Great Southern ballroom, but Hollywood’s first teen center, The Rec, began in this hotel.
Having attempted to establish that the Great Southern was created to be mediocre, the next paragraph quite incorrectly states that Young built this hotel as “home to the workers who built the city nearly a century ago.” Total fabrication, written by people who have apparently not bothered to read either Virginia TenEick’s History of Hollywood, or my own Guide to Historic Hollywood. No, visionary city builder J. W. Young did not spend half a million 1920s US dollars to hire an important Miami architect to plunk a hotel for laborers on the main corner of his carefully planned downtown Boulevard and grand circle park.
The simple, and obvious reason that Young built the Great Southern Hotel was that his city was so successful, and growing so fast that visitors needed more hotel rooms. He therefore hired architect Martin Hampton, who had worked with Addison Mizner, and who was designing buildings for George Merrick at the same time, to design his second hotel. The rooms are small? It’s a 1920s hotel. I stayed in the grand and famous hotel in Banff, Canada, and guess what? The rooms are small.
Left: a room in the Great Southern Hotel from a flyer, 1920s or 1930s. Note the handsome drapes, stylish wicker chairs, sofa, oriental rug, and bureau with mirror.
From the Hollywood Historical Society
Right: two rooms in the Hollywood Beach Hotel, from a flyer of the 1930s. Note the drapes, bureau with mirror, lamps, etc.
Which room is for the “laborer”? Neither, right.
From the Hollywood Historical Society.
Apparently to imply that Young himself wouldn’t deign to stay in his Great Southern Hotel, this article states that Young chose to live in his first-built hotel, the Hollywood Hotel (later the Park View Hotel). Yes, Young did live in the Hollywood/Park View, beginning in 1923, for a very good reason: it was the only hotel in Hollywood at the time. He didn’t begin to build the Great Southern until September, 1924.
Calling the Park View “Young’s tourist venue” isn’t exactly accurate, either. Young built both downtown hotels as accommodations for people who came to the new city to buy land. There was nowhere else for them to stay in the first few years of Hollywood’s existence. Both hotels served meals, as well, filling another need. Businessmen stayed in both. Laborers stayed in neither. Eventually it fell into neglect—what historic site hasn’t? The White House nearly collapsed on Harry Truman. And so on.
We can honor our past, or distort it, but the historical facts will remain.”
This ends my letter.
And here, below, is the Great Southern Hotel today.
Back to the past now, to August in Hollywood. From the start Young planned to build an enormous grand hotel on the beach at the east end of his Hollywood Boulevard, but first he had to put in roads, drain marshes, build a bridge across the canal, and so on. Meanwhile, his advertising was so successful that thousands continued to flock to his city, and they needed housing before his Beach Hotel was constructed. They wanted the beach, so Young was happy to provide for that, with a big development he called:
TENT CITY. Virginia TenEick tells us that in August, 1923 Young was actively planning “Tent City” on the beach. The 1920s postcard, at right, looks down a long “street” lined with Tent City accommodations. while the sunbather front right, lounging in a beach chair, offers a suggestion of how roomy each of the “tents” was.
It’s often supposed that Tent City, also called Beach City, was built for laborers. Wrong again. So many people were flocking to Hollywood looking to buy land, or just enjoy the scenery, that Young and others couldn’t build hotels for them fast enough. People in the 1920s were big on the outdoors and fresh air so Young came up with another concept he had heard about, a resort under canvas. This huge stretch of frame structures with canvas roofs could house 100, right on the beach.
In this photo, at left, labeled “Beach City,” the extent of the “city under canvas” may be grasped. The large structure lower left is the dining hall (there was also a sitting room or library). There appears to be a milk wagon making a delivery. In the distance, upper left, is South Lake.
Yale Studio photo, c. 1925
Not exactly roughing it—the tents were supplied with electricity, lights, running water and maid service. Not surprisingly Tent City was demolished by the 1926 hurricane, but its residents had been moved to the Hollywood Beach Hotel which survived that and all storms since.
NIGHT TIME SCENE AT BEACH CITY, ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, HOLLYWOOD, FLA. How idyllic!
Tinted postcard c. 1925
KINGTON, KRIEKHAUS BUILDINGS. Other buildings going up in downtown Hollywood in August, 1923 were the Kington Building, now the Broward Building, and across the Boulevard the Kriekhaus Building with its unusual coral rock façade.
At right, top, is the Kington Building under construction, from one of Young’s Hollywood Reporters. Ward Kington was a very early supporter of J. W. Young, building a fine home just across the FEC tracks (behind the trees) in 1922. He chose his locations on the Dixie Highway and Hollywood Boulevard so that travelers would see how handsome a city was under way.
The bottom photo shows the completed structure, with shops on the ground level and six large apartments on the second level. The building is on the southwest corner of 21st Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.
These two views of the Kriekhaus building with its coral rock facade both appeared in Young’s publications, the bottom photo on the cover. There seems to be a shop with men’s wear in the window, and at right in the distance may be seen the Park View Hotel.
The Kriekhaus building was damaged by the 1926 storm and torn down, but the Kington Building, one of Hollywood’s oldest, now called the Broward Building, has been carefully restored.
At right, from Young’s Hollywood Reporter, the president is the tall man, center. He is greeting the Hollywood Land & Water Company’s top salesmen before lunch at the Park View Hotel.
Upon his death, the downtown Circle, then called either The Circle or Circle Park, was renamed Harding Circle, and so it remained until after the death of J. W. Young who did not want anything named for him. Harding’s death also led to the naming of Coolidge Street for the new president, the last Hollywood street to be named for a president.
When it was completed, Hollywood’s train station was considered to be the most beautiful station on Florida’s coast. But 50 years later this notable structure was considered to be in the way, and was demolished to widen the road.
SEMINOLE VILLAGE. And according to Don Cuddy, in August of 1924 the Seminole Okalee Indian Village, 481 acres, was established on both sides of Stirling Road at US 441. Today Hollywood completely surrounds the Seminole land there.
PERSONAL NOTE FOR AUGUST, 1925. Lamora Gleason (later Mickelson) arrived that month from her home in Vermont. She came to visit her brother John Gleason, an RPI engineer working with a Tony Mickelson. No, she didn’t come by truck–that’s the Hollywood Light & Water Company’s float for the 4th of July in 1926. She is sitting in the chair, facing forward. I can’t figure out what the theme of this float was supposed to be.
SAMMONS HOME REDISCOVERED! About that same time, Young had exhorted his top company officers and salesmen to build homes in the city they were promoting, putting their money where their mouths were. One of these, built by J. M. Kagey, Sales Manager, is now the Hollywood Art & Culture Center.
Photo at left:
Another, built by C. Warren Sammons, Manager of the Miami Division of the Sales Department, has been thought to have been demolished. But a recent inquiry about a handsome home on Hollywood Boulevard led us to the discovery that it is in fact the Sammons home built in about 1925.
HOLLYWOOD TAKES PART IN WORLD WAR TWO. More on this in future posts, but by August, 1943 there were two Navy training schools in Hollywood. First to arrive were officers and trainees of the Naval Air Gunners School, commissioned August 4, 1942 and by August 10 the first Gunners class began training, 335 men, average age 19. The Naval Officer Indoctrination and Training School with classes of one thousand graduating every three months occupied the Hollywood Beach Hotel.
The photo at right shows one of the first classes of trainees in the Hollywood Beach Hotel gardens.
Oscar Johnson photo, Hollywood Historical Society.
According to the August 12, 1943 Sun-Tattler, no cameras were allowed on the beach, and civilian Air Wardens “had power over lights.” Blackouts were serious for all coastal Americans at this time. Also in August, 1943, the first WAVE arrived at the Gunners School to “assume her duties as Assistant Communications Officer.” Many of these Naval officers had been commissioned so quickly they arrived in Hollywood without complete uniforms. The August 23, 1943 Tattler headed one article: “Gunnery Girls [sic] Get Uniforms,” while an ad from The Toggery Shop said: “Attention Naval Men—Slate Grays [uniforms] Just Arrived $15.38.”
FAST FORWARD TO 1956. I decided next to go forward a decade, so we pulled at random a Sun-Tattler from August of 1956. Among many other familiar names I discovered that an SBHS classmate, Audrey Feagan was now a columnist. That week she wrote of four local women who traveled to Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Trans-Jordan. Audrey noted that they reached Europe just as the Suez crisis began. Plus sa change… The women were Jean Moore, principal of Hollywood Hills School, Marguerite Hatchett, principal of Hallandale school, Mrs. Jack Burton, a teacher at Hollywood Hills School, and Clara Steele, office manager of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
BACK TO SCHOOL IN 1956. Speaking of schools, that same paper featured some Back-to-School outfits, chiefly dresses. The article shown at left was about a fashion show held that day at Young Circle Bandshell (now long gone). Show director JoAnn Browning at left shows the girls how to pose. They are, l. to r., Charlotte Poole, Joyce Ann Malsom and Carol-Lynn Malsom.
The girls had attended a six-week modeling class and among other classmates who were modeling was Penny Johns.
And some of us know that Penny Johns is the daughter of Elsie Johns, now the second-generation proprietor of Melina’s shop on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Tattler didn’t leave out the college girls. Vickie Williams, at left, seems to be modeling a Lanz, noted for the rick-rack trim–and surely complete with full petticoats. The outfits on P. Patterson (sorry, her first name is cut off) and Lou Orsell were chosen to be suitable for northern schools. Southern Northern schools, I think. The northern college I went to wasn’t nearly so dressy.
STOCK CAR RACING. Did you know that Hollywood once had a stock-car race track? It was on west Pembroke Road, “Just west of Highway No. 9.” I went there with girlfriends, to watch Cotton Hodges and the others bang up their cars, but he doesn’t seem to be among the drivers listed for this particular race.
LAWN ACRES. Real estate news of August 9, 1956 described the Lawn Acres development, fully landscaped with street sewers. Homes had electric kitchens with Thermidor built-in oven and range, Formica-topped kitchen cabinets, tile baths with glass shower enclosure, glass-jalousied window areas, and all houses “are built so there is a gentle cooling breeze through the day and night.” The White Development Corp. offered the house pictured here at $16,500. This is a fairly roomy 3-bedroom 2-bath house, with a dining area. Also note in the plan the Utility Room off the carport (do they offer utility rooms any more?) and the Florida Room at the top in the plan
ELVIS INTERVIEWED. At the time of this interview, Elvis was performing at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami, and staying at the Robert Clay hotel. Betty Moffitt and Jean Henry, seniors at South Broward High School, managed to get a 2-hour interview with him (plus kisses). The August 6, 1956 Tattler gave them a 4-column spread to write their story. (Perhaps you can tell I’m not an Elvis fan.)
AVOCADO ICE CREAM.
You read that right. Avocados are ripe in August and we had 3 trees full. So one day my mother and I decided to try a recipe from a local paper, for avocado ice cream. Need I say that it was awful?