Monday, November 5, 2012
The New Hotel Rosslyn
I went back and forth about this postcard. I try and limit things on The New Found Photography to actual photographs or images based on photos. At first I couldn't make up my mind. Was this postcard a drawing or was it a hand colored and heavily manipulated photograph converted to a card. In the end, after looking close with my best magnifying glass, I decided that all the fine detail that can be seen on the building's facades indicated photo, so here it is.
Finding the history of The Hotel Rosslyn was a bit tougher than I expected. In separate articles, I found dates of 1911, 1912, and 1913 for the main building's opening. 1913 was the only date that I could find that was mentioned multiple times, so I'm going with '13. The annex opened in 1923. (At least there was agreement on that date.) I also found mention of an addition that burned down in the early 1940's. Both the main building and the annex were designed by architect John Parkinson.
When the Rosslyn was built, Fifth and Main was the financial center of Los Angeles. After World War 2, the banking and business hub of downtown L.A. moved west and north and the former banking district slowly went into decline and eventually became a haven for the down and outers, drunks, and drug users, prostitutes, hustlers, and petty criminals. In 1959, the main hotel closed. It reopened in 1979 with a different name, The Frontier, but the new owners either couldn't afford,or didn't care enough, to change the outside signs. A good thing, since one of the great things about both buildings are the large roof top neon signs. Watch enough television, and some cop show will have a fight scene on the roof, with the sign framework in the background. It must have been confusing having a Frontier Hotel signed Hotel Rosslyn right across the street from the actual Hotel Rosslyn, that was originally the Hotel Rosslyn Annex.
This card was postmarked "LONG BEACH, CALIF, FEB 4, 1:30 PM, 1935" Judging by the message, the Rosslyn's decline was still in the future. "Dear Donna, This is where mother and Esther stayed last night. We have the grandest time here. Love, Mother." Addressed to, "Donna Wilson, 2946 Russell Ave. No., Minneapolis, Minn." And somehow or another it made it's way back to L.A.
And now for my own remembrance of the Rosslyn. When I was in my mid twenties, and first arrived in Los Angeles, I spent a couple of nights at the hotel. It was an experience. I can remember getting out of bed when I heard a lady weeping in the hallway outside my room. I took a quick look and saw a woman leaning against the wall, shabbily dressed, with a platinum blond wig, crying. A few hours latter, another woman knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to party. And she'd only charge me twenty bucks! The second night of my stay, water started coming through the ceiling. I found out, the next morning, that my upstairs neighbor had died of a drug overdose while filling the bathtub. Two nights were enough for me.
Today the main building has been converted into lofts. Micro lofts starting at $789 per month. The annex is still a hotel.