Carol Hughes as photographed by Schuyler Crail, with Hollywood and Cahuenga in the background, courtesy of Mary Mallory.
One of the most important and busiest intersections in Hollywood has always been that of Hollywood and Cahuenga Boulevards. The location of Hollywood’s first hotels, the intersection also soon became the home of one of Hollywood’s first banks, the Hollywood National Bank. The location serves as witness to much of the city’s business and movie history, acting as a gateway to dreams.
In 1888, Horace D. Sackett constructed a simple two story hotel on the southwest corner of Prospect Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard on three lots generously given him by town developer Harvey Wilcox, the heart of the speculator’s subdivision as well as a prime stage coach stop. The quaint inn, which he called the Sackett Hotel, consisted of eighteen rooms with one shared bathroom, while downstairs featured a general store, lobby, parlor, and kitchen. Just three years later in 1891, Sackett opened the city’s first post office in part of his general store, becoming a prime gathering spot for the growing community.
“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.
The Creque building, as updated in the 1931, at Hollywood and Cahuenga, via Google Street View.
Over the next twenty years, Hollywood quickly evolved from a small rural outpost into a successful farm and ranch community prospering on its bountiful crops. Flourishing farmers soon required the need of financial institutions to manage their money and aid their growth.
Recognizing an opportunity and a prime location, capitalist J. P. Creque purchased the Sackett property now owned by Mrs. Gillig to convert into one an office building holding the town’s first bank, which the November 10, 1910 Los Angeles Herald called the oldest business block in the Cahuenga Valley. Per the paper, Creque would demolish the hotel at 6400 Hollywood Blvd. in order to construct a “handsome fireproof two-story building,” with the Hollywood National Bank occupying the front corner of the first floor along with four stores, and 22 offices and small apartment on the second.
Creque hired architect Emil Fossler, with the December 4, 1910 Los Angeles Times stating his plans called for a pressed brick building with the second floor reserved for dentist and doctors’ offices, along with a restaurant on the first floor. Plans continued changing, with costs now estimated to be $36,500 by April 12, 1911. The November 19, 1911 Times reported the completion of the building, noting the luxuriousness of the Hollywood National Bank. Oak and mahogany woodwork lined the walls, marble and bronze added a rich touch, and tinted windows completed the look. The bank’s vault was constructed of solid concrete and steel, protected by an electric alarm system.
The bank expanded rapidly as the city’s population exploded. Advertisements in magazines and newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor also aided the growing business. Its location in the prime of Hollywood didn’t hurt.
Courtesy of the DWP via the Los Angeles Public Library.
This location, just blocks from many moving picture studios, also played a factor in the intersection and building’s popularity with the developing film community as well. As film historian John Bengtson has pointed out, such stars as Mary Pickford, Mildred Davis, Mabel Normand, Marie Dressler, and Charlie Chaplin filmed scenes right in front of the bank, and legends Harry Houdini, Douglas Fairbanks, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd shot scenes just across or down the street. Normand, Dressler, and Chaplin posed in front of the building during a scene from the 1914 film “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” while Pickford filmed a 1917 Liberty Bond short peering around the corner of the structure.
The bank’s growing deposits led to a merger with Citizens Saving Bank, and the new name Security Trust and Savings, before the larger operation moved to grander quarters within a few years. The building evolved to serve the needs of other establishments, undergoing renovations and upgrades for these purposes, and taking on new addresses spanning 6402-6408 Hollywood Blvd. as well.
Owner A. G. Horner completely renovated the building in 1931, adding two floors in order to gain more retail space, and at the same time upgrading it to match architectural fads of the time. On September 3, 1931, he took out a permit to add two stories to the building along with elevator. A November 30 permit stated that he would replace the exterior tile face, converting into the Art Deco style. His December 17 permit reports that he would enlarge the penthouse and install skylights to add more illumination, while later permits speak of upgrading awnings, moving partitions, and so on.
The building retains its Art Deco look to this day, and serves the needs of many businesses large and small. It continues to witness the course of Hollywood history as it remains one of Hollywood’s busiest intersections. Once the Sackett Hotel, then the Hollywood National Bank, and now home of many small businesses, 6400-6408 Hollywood Blvd. serves as a reminder of Hollywood’s business past while acting as witness to the evolution of the movie city.