For the members of the Glendale Historical Society, stepping into the studio space on the corner of Brand Boulevard and San Fernando Road for the society’s annual holiday party on Dec. 16 mirrored the experience of entering a roaring ’20s style speakeasy. The cluster of history aficionados was well dressed for the occasion. Well-groomed men in dapper zoot suits and decadent, flapper adorned women enjoyed “prohibition punch” and hors d’oeuvres after taking a tour of Seeley’s 41 creative studios and office spaces.
Among the tour guides was Julio Hechavarria, a society board member and supporter of L.A. Arts Alliance.
“The whole city is really excited about [the reopening of the space],” said Hechavarria. “It seemed kind of silly that one of Glendale’s most historical buildings had been vacant for 20 years, and the famous neon Seeley’s sign had been down for 14 years. Everyone can feel how significant this is.”
The Glendale Historical Society was not just celebrating the upcoming holidays. A uniting theme amongst members delighting in the festivities was “preservation.” The looming threat of having one of Glendale’s treasured landmarks demolished was resolved after an $8 million renovation. The guests were relieved to see a landmark not stripped of its historical significance, but tastefully repurposed for “adaptive reuse.” Seeley Studios received the 2012 Preservation Award for saving the property and reigniting community interest.
The guests who toured the creative spaces where historical evidence was displayed were able to see a glimpse into how the building has been transformed over the years. Seeley’s was built in 1925 in the Commercial Spanish Baroque style by renowned Glendale architect Alfred Priest. In 1940, the building façade was renovated to match the art deco/Moderne style. The most recent renovation of the building is designed to honor the architectural history of the building while rebranding its appeal to attract some of the area’s brightest creatives.
“Seeley’s is the epicenter of the artistic community. It’s the city’s southern entrance from Silverlake, Atwater Village and Echo Park,” said Hechavarria.
Guests were able to view relics from Seeley’s past as a furniture store including old newspaper clippings, clever advertisements, and vintage miscellany. Each artifact revealed the building’s congenial history with the city and its inhabitants.