Posted: Sunday, July 23, 2017 – 5:37 PM
By Victoria Talbot
This week, Walk with the Mayor participants will enjoy a truly rare treat, spanning the scope of Beverly Hills’ illustrious history with the film community and touring one of the great jewels in the City’s park system. Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse will lead the group on a walk to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library and nearby, La Cienega Park!
But get on your walking shoes! This is a bit longer than usual, but worth every step!
The Margaret Herrick Library is a world-renowned non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form and an industry. Established in 1928 and now located in Beverly Hills, the library is used year-found by students, scholars, historians and industry professionals.
It is also located in an historic landmark on the Local Register of Historic Places in Beverly Hills, as a building that once housed the Beverly Hills Water Treatment Plant No. 1.
Constructed in 1927-8, the Beverly Hills Water Treatment Plant No. 1 has a soaring tower rising over a front-gabled central wing accented by a huge rose window, suggesting a church or mission. It is a huge part of the City’s history; the City of Los Angeles tried to annex Beverly Hills as part of their city, citing the sulfurous water supply (read: “Chinatown”). But the citizens, with the help of some very famous motion picture stars, resisted annexation, and opted to build their own water treatment plant to purify the water.
The City obtained a permit to build the plant on Nov. 2, 1927, with architects Salisbury, Bradshaw and Taylor, at a cost of $145,000. Taylor, who designed the project, said the Spanish Colonial Revival scheme was based on the traditional hacienda layout. The tower housed a disguised chimney used to burn off the the sulphur at a high enough altitude that it would not disturb nearby residents with its awful odor. The plant operated until 1976, and was contemplated for demolition.
Pubic activism and the offer by the Academy to rehabilitate the building for reuse as the museum resulted in the re-opening of this precious landmark in 1991.