AKA: Ambassador Hotel and Bungalows, Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Hunt, Myron, Architect (firm); Walker and Eisen, Architects (firm); Williams, Paul R., FAIA (firm); Julius Ralph Davidson (architect); Percy Augustus Eisen (architect); Myron Hubbard Hunt (architect); McNeal Swasey (architect); Thomas Tomson (landscape architect); Albert Raymond Walker (architect); Paul Revere Williams (architect)

Dates: constructed 1919-1921, demolished 2005

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3400 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202

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Building History

Architect Myron Hunt (1868-1952) designed the Ambassador Hotel c. 1920; Hunt had already designed a number of large-scale hotels by 1920, including the Potter Hotel (1902), Montecito, CA, Hotel Maryland #2, Pasadena, CA, (1903), Wentworth Hotel, (1907), and additions to the Mission Inn, Riverside, CA, (periodic work after 1913). McNeal Swasey (1891-1946), newly arrived in Los Angeles [1919] following service in World War I, served as Construction Supervisor for Hunt at the hotel. The Schine Family owned the Ambassador from its opening in 1921 until 1971; it was set back from Wilshire Boulevard on 24 acres, which included the main hotel, a garage and several detached bungalows. Hunt designed the bungalows in 1920 which were to contain approximately 75 rooms and 50 baths.

The hotel closed in 1989; the Ambassador served as a site for the Academy Awards six times: 04/03/1930, 11/05/1930, 11/18/1932, 03/16/1934, 02/29/1940, 03/04/1943; the hotel also contained the legendary Cocoanut Grove Nightclub, the place for Hollywood celebrities to congregate in the 1920s-1930s. Architectural historian Thomas S. Hines indicated that the German emigre architect J.R. Davidson (1889-1977) designed the interior of the Cocoanut Grove. (See "Architecture of the Sun: Los Angeles Modernism 1900-1970," [New York: Rizzoli, 2010], p. 518.) The hotel also had a large banquet room called the Fiesta Room; the Oscars were held in both the Cocoanut Grove and Fiesta Room; Richard M. Nixon wrote the "Checkers Speech" while lodging at the hotel in 1952.

Building Notes

In 1926, the Cocoanut Grove Orchestra had a 10-11 P.M. weekly radio broadcast on KNX Radio, Los Angeles, CA.

The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission declined the Ambassador Hotel as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark on 07/31/1987. (See "Historic-Cultural Monuments," Los Angeles Times, 11/19/1987, p. 46.)


Bungalows were built on the property in 1920; Walker and Eisen added a new entrance pylon at the Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, in 1938; Paul R. Williams (1894-1980) renovated the interiors of the Ambassador and was responsible for the design of its Moderne coffee shop. Landscape architect Tommy Tomson (1900-1986) collaborated with Williams on alterations to the Ambassador.

Demolished 10/2005-01/2006. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) after a protracted battle, succeeded in tearing down all of the hotel, except for the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub, by 01/16/2006. The Cocoanut Grove portion was to be integrated into the new school building. The LAUSD tried to give away bungalows on the property to any takers free of charge in 2004.

PCAD id: 3810