Back in 1991, the Kress building was still home to the famous Frederick’s of Hollywood. Hollywood writer Martin Turnball writes that the Kress department store opened in 1947 at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard.
Frederick Mellinger, whose big claim to fame was that he invented the push-up bra, opened his flagship store in the once fancy Kress department store –selling bras, panties, corsets, bedroom slippers, a vast array of hosiery, bridal lingerie, special occasion lingerie, and more.
Established by Samuel Henry Kress, which operated from 1896 to 1981, there were Kress stores with ornamented architecture on “Main Street” in hundreds of cities and towns. In 1934, S.H. Kress opened the department store on Hollywood Boulevard. In 2008, the new owners spent 30 million dollars to restore the historic art deco building. It had a nightclub and dining room that was quite fabulous.
Now it is sadly abandoned with drug dealers out front.
In 1999, I ventured around Hollywood and took some photos. Little did I know then I would move to Hollywood and live here for 40 years. I want to share a few of my THEN and NOW shots with you and add a bit of Hollywood history.
These photos were taken from the alley behind my building at The Broadway Hollywood located next-door to what was once the famous and glamorous Hollywood Plaza Hotel. Now it is a retirement building where the only action they get is weekly ambulances. Excitedly, I managed to capture the same palm trees from 30 years ago. This back area was once a swanky swimming pool where movie stars like Jackie Gleason, Doris Day, and Marilyn Monroe sunbathed. Bette David lived at the hotel with her mother when she first moved to Hollywood in 1930. Ava Gardner checked into the hotel in 1941 but was forced to move to the cheaper Wilcox Hotel. Frank Sinatra frequented the barbershop in the basement. And George Burns had an office in the 1930s. From episodes of “I Love Lucy” you can see the building from Lucy’s flat.
The building and its neon signboard were designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 665 on September 29, 1999 – however it is difficult to see the starry sign behind a tacky new billboard that went up on the roof.