I’ve been at this location hunting gig for a long time now but occasionally a filming site manages to fool even me! Such was the case with the famed Los Altos Apartments, the lobby of which was transformed into an elegant 1960s-era bar for an episode of the NBC drama series “Aquarius” (now streaming on Netflix). Despite my long familiarity with the building, I failed to recognize it at first glance, which, considering its iconic beauty, is rather surprising.
Located at 4121 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles’ Windsor Square neighborhood, the striking Spanish Revival complex was designed by architect Edward B. Rust for building contractors Luther T. Mayo and Preston S. Wright of Mayo-Wright Properties, Inc. Originally conceived as a co-op comprised of 75 custom-designed, individually-owned apartments (the first of its kind on the West Coast!), the structure was completed in 1926. According to an L.A. Times article from that year, the lavish site was built at a cost of approximately $1,000,000 (and we’re talking 1920’s money!) and “established a new standard of beauty and dignity in Los Angeles apartment-house construction.”
The building also set a new level of luxury for its tenants. Early residents were treated to grand balls in the soaring lobby, hair styling in the onsite beauty salon, relaxing refuge in the rooftop solarium, tennis games on the rear court, fine dining in the in-house restaurant and parking for 100 cars in the adjacent garage. As such, the Los Altos attracted many of the movers and shakers of the day. A 1979 L.A. Times article described the building as providing “elegant shelter” to “the beautiful people of the ‘30s.” Indeed, everyone from original “It Girl” Clara Bow to two-time Oscar-winner Bette Davis to screen legend Judy Garland called the place home during its early years. William Randolph Hearst is also said to have commissioned a “lavish 10-room, six-bath suite complete with a screening room” on the premises for his longtime love Marion Davies.