The story behind the architect that designed Chateau Marmont and his unknown family. written by Yaron Reshef.
The Chateau Marmont is a hotel located at 8221 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA. The Chateau Marmont was designed by Arnold A. Weitzman and was built in 1927 .It was modeled loosely after the Château d'Amboise, a royal retreat in Loire Valley in France. The hotel has 63 rooms and suites.
In 1926 Fred Horowitz, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, chose the site at Marmont Lane and Sunset Boulevard to construct an apartment building. Horowitz had recently traveled to Europe for inspiration and returned to California with photos of a Gothic Chateau along the Loire River. In 1927 Horowitz commissioned his brother-in-law, European-trained architect Arnold A. Weitzman, to design the seven-story, L-shaped building based on his French photos. When deciding upon a name for the building, Chateau Sunset and Chateau Hollywood were rejected in favor of Chateau Marmont, a name conceived by the small street running across the front of the property.
On February 1, 1929, Chateau Marmont opened its doors to the public as the newest residence of Hollywood. Local newspapers described the Chateau as "Los Angeles's newest, finest and most exclusive apartment house … superbly situated, close enough to active businesses to be accessible and far enough away to insure quiet and privacy." For the inaugural reception, over 300 people passed through the site, including local press.
Due to the high rents and inability to keep tenants for long-term commitments during the depression, Fred Horowitz chose to sell the apartment building to Albert E. Smith for $750,000 in cash. The following year, Chateau Marmont was converted into a hotel. The apartments became suites with kitchens and living rooms. The property was also refurbished with antiques from depression-era estate sales.
Designed and constructed to be earthquake proof, Chateau Marmont survived major earthquakes in 1933, 1953, 1971, 1987 and 1994 without sustaining any major structural damage. Nine Spanish cottages were built next to the hotel in the 1930s and were acquired by the hotel in the 1940s. Craig Ellwood designed two of the four bungalows in 1956, after he completed Case Study Houses.
(Sources of Information: California State Library and Los Angeles Relics Facebook page)
On March 24, 1976, Chateau Marmont was named "Los Angeles' Historical-Cultural Landmark 151".
Who was Arnold A. Weitzman?
Arnold A. Weitzman, an architect, was born in Czortkow, Poland in 1889 as Abraham Aharon Weitzman. He was the son of Chaim Selig Weitzman and Szeina Ruchel Stolar. My aunt Ethel Lea Finkelman (my father's oldest sister) had a love affair with Arnold, a good looking young architect in Czortkow (their hometown). Ethel got pregnant, and gave birth to Feivush; Philip. Arnold didn't marry Ethel, left her and immigrated to America in 1914, just before WW1, Maybe promising Ethel that she will come after him with the baby.WW1 separated them for 6 years. Ethel and her son immigrated to the States only in 1920. She met Arnold in New York and they lived there for a short time and moved to Los Angeles CA where they lived together until 1925-6.
In 1927 Arnold met Bertha Horowitz (Fred Horowitz's sister) and left Ethel. He married Bertha and took Philp to live with them. Ethel was left alone and moved back to New York. There are records from 1930 Census showing that Arnold, Bertha and Philip lived together in LA. There are no records about Ethel in that Census. In the 1940 Census Ethel Weitzman (Finkelman) lived alone at 713 E 6th Street Manhattan NY and worked as a dress finisher. I found her son Philip in 1940 Census, 27 years old, married to Eva (Zucker) and their son Irving, 10 months. They lived in Brookline NY.
Ethel died in 1958, in the same year my father Shlomo Zvi Finkelman died.
In 1974 Philip (Arnold's and Ethel's son) searched for my father, his uncle. Philip didn't know that my father passed away already 16 years before, when he was only 50 years old. Philip didn't write my father's first and middle names (Shlomo, Zvi) on the search application he sent to Israel and because my father wasn't alive he never got an answer. I got the original application in which Philip looked for my father, from Lawyer Elinor Kroitoruthat worked at The Company for the Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets.
I found, only a week ago, that Philip had three children. The youngest was named after Arnold Weitzman. I called Arnold and we had a beautiful telecon on September 2nd 2018 in which he was told for the first time about his grandfather and his achievements as an architect.
(This new information is based on Lia Halstuch Sragovicz, Lisa Margolin and my research through the last three years.)
The photos of Chateau Marmont were taken by me during my trip to Hollywood on September 6th 2018.
My Name is Yaron Reshef, the son of Shlomo Zvi Finkelman. I am the author of "Out of the Shoebox": An Autobiographic Mystery (Historical Nonfiction story) which you can find on Amazon.