Welcome to the Park Plaza Hotel, you can have any room you’d like… just not here.
When you visit the Park Plaza Hotel, the first thing you might notice is the elaborate exterior. The immaculate stone facade is adorned with statues and columns and reliefs. The soaring bronze entrance is topped with a brass elk’s head, and is flanked with “Park Plaza Hotel” on both sides. If you look a little closer, you may notice the outside is a little too clean, with no garbage cans, valet stands or suitcases. If you get close enough, you’ll finally realize that the doors are locked, and there’s not a guest or staff member in sight.
Although it’s called a hotel, you won’t find any pillow top mattresses, room service, or concierge here. In fact, there isn’t a single “hotel” room in the building. Confused yet? Don’t worry, we’re about to sort it all out.
As you might have guessed, it was a hotel.
Park Plaza opened in 1925, serving as Elks Lodge No. 99 for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The 11-story concrete structure was designed by renowned Art Deco architect, Claud Beelman. He designed the Lodge as a memorial to the soldiers who had fallen in World War I. The massive Neo-Gothic style structure is adorned with sculpted busts dressed in varying military uniform and enormous cast stone angels around the corners of the exterior. A brass sculpture of elk antlers surrounds the clock above the main entrance to the building. The interior is covered with intricately painted ceilings by famed muralist Anthony Heinsbergen, who later created murals for dozens of LA landmarks as well as private homes.
Elks Lodge No. 99 hosted many wealthy and elite members with 169 hotel rooms overlooking the then-pristine MacArthur Park. Aside from it’s sprawling ballrooms, the building also had a gymnasium, a bowling alley and a pool for the guests’ enjoyment. Eventually, the Elks memberships diminished and the building was sold in the 1960s. The building then served stints as a YMCA, a luxury retirement hotel and a punk rock venue. Over time, the neighborhood has suffered through urban decay but the Park Plaza Hotel name remains. In 1983 it was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. It is unclear when the upper hotel room floors were removed, but the tower is now vacant and the gym, bowling alley and pool remain hidden away in unsavory condition. Still, the main lobby and the ballrooms make Park Plaza Hotel easily one of the best remaining buildings in Los Angeles.
Currently, Park Plaza is only used for weddings, private parties, and other special events. If you can’t find your way onto a guest list, there are still plenty of opportunities to see the interior – albeit not in person. Due to its unique and historic interior and exterior, it has been, and continues to be used in countless TV shows, commercials, and movies (including one of my favorites, Gangster Squad). Luckily the current owners are keeping Park Plaza in pristine condition, and perhaps if the surrounding neighborhood cleans up, it can serve as a grand hotel once again.
Park Plaza Hotel
607 S. Park View St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057