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Infamous WeHo Dance Palace On National Trust's Endangered List

Infamous WeHo Dance Palace On National Trust's Endangered List

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A 1920s-era camera factory became a trendsetting disco in the early 1970s and later a locus of AIDS activism. It's now threatened by redevelopment.

The Factory, one of the largest gay nightclubs in greater Los Angeles, currently occupies an edifice in West Hollywood that's played host to plenty of history. Recognizing a proposed hotel development could mean the end of the building, the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the nightclub on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Built in 1929 as an industrial structure for the Mitchell Camera Corporation, the building was integral to the booming film industry and its transition to "talkies." When the camera company decamped for the suburbs after World War II, the building was adapted into a cosmetics warehouse, a furniture showroom, a private nightclub for celebrities, an antique market, and an experimental theater. But in 1974 a gay Beverly Hills eye doctor turned the building into Studio One, which became one of the most celebrated nightclubs in the country. Stars such as Patti LaBelle and Liza Minnelli performed there, and more than 1,000 people would dance under its disco balls and strobe lights.

Aside from the legendary parties, Studio One hosted some of the country's first AIDS fundraisers, with entertainers like Joan Rivers helping pack the house.

Later Studio One would become the Factory, which was famous in the 1990s and 2000s for its throngs of shirtless men, as well as the Girl Bar parties for lesbian and bi women. The club now features parties like "Rasputin" and "Magnum."

"The Factory is a trove of important and multilayered history that simply cannot be replaced," Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement. "The Factory has proven many times over its history that it can successfully evolve with changing times to serve a variety of uses. As West Hollywood plans its future, this is just the type of place to protect and preserve, not destroy."

A hotel developer is planning a pedestrian paseo that would cut through the Factory; the trust wants the paseo diverted and the nightclub preserved.

Click here for a full list of the trust's endangered places and check out a video on the sites below:

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