In memory of the Garden of Allah, Bart Lytton commissioned the creation of a scale model of the hotel. He also built the domed structure to the left in this drawing to house the scale model, which depicted the hotel grounds as they looked in the late 1950s. He called the structure “the Pavilion.”
Sheilah Graham mentioned it toward the end of her history of the hotel, The Garden of Allah, published in 1970:
“Today, where the pool and villas stood so securely,” she wrote, “where Benchley laughed and Scott weaved along the narrow paths, all that remains on the Sunset Blvd. plot at the foot of Laurel Canyon is a model of the Garden in a glass case. It remains unnoticed by the new nonconformists, who frequent the area, the hippies of the Sunset Strip.”
The model disappeared when the pavilion was demolished to make way for parking at the shopping center that was built around the bank. Martin Turnbull, author of a series of novels set at the Garden of Allah, located the model not long ago.
He learned that shop owner had rescued the model as it was about to be discarded by the shopping center’s management. The owner restored the model and has it preserved under glass in his home in West Hollywood.
For reasons that are obscure, there are life-size replicas of some of the Garden of Allah’s villas at Universal Studios in Orlando – but not in Hollywood.
Then & Now
The former Lytton property was purchased in the 2010s by Townscape Partners. In 2015 Townscape announced that it would develop a mixed use complex on the site – a mix of housing, retail, dining and entertainment venues – to be called 8150 Sunset. The architect for the project was Frank Gehry, one of the best-known and innovative building designers in the world.
In 2020 Gehry released the revised design for the property in the photo above. Demolition and construction were scheduled to begin in 2021.
What Has Been Lost
It has been six decades since the Garden of Allah was demolished and yet its memory lives on. Maybe it’s the tales of a glamorous, seemingly more carefree life. Maybe it’s its association with so many sophisticates from Hollywood’s glory days. Maybe it’s the irreverent, exotic name. Whatever the reason, curiosity endures about the Garden of Allah. Its mystique is timeless.
Thanks for help with this exhibit to Violet Wilcox, Tere Tereba and Patricia Ponder – and for research assistance from Martin Turnbull, Tracy Pattin, MaryEllen Marshall and Sasha Razor of the Alla Nazimova Society.