In honor of the centennial celebration of Beverly Hills, we’re taking the opportunity to talk about our favorite Academy building, the City of Beverly Hills Water Treatment Plant No. 1. This spectacular Spanish Romanesque building standing at the corner of La Cienega and Olympic is home to the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library.
Constructed in 1927 as a way to ensure the fledgling municipality’s independence from the city of Los Angeles, the building’s primary function was to house the equipment that filtered the water for the citizens of Beverly Hills. Over time, as the city became more firmly established and fears of annexation abated, Beverly Hills began buying water from Los Angeles.
The building sat empty from the mid-1970s until 1989 when the Academy stepped in to save it from demolition with an imaginative adaptive reuse plan.
The beautiful wrought iron doors at the entrance are among the building’s signature features.
Equally captivating are the bell tower and the ornate windows above the entrance. The tower is one of a handful in the United States that was created to resemble The Giralda, the bell tower that sits atop the cathedral in Seville, Spain. The windows, one small and one grand, resemble film reels, a happy coincidence for an organization devoted to the art and science of motion pictures.
With the building’s renovation, the water tanks and processing equipment gave way to bookshelves, climate controlled vaults and office space for a staff of more than 70 individuals dedicated to preserving the world’s foremost film historical collection.
For the next two months we are helping Beverly Hills celebrate its Centennial with an exhibition exploring the city’s relationship to the motion picture industry.
Come visit us and see photographs of early Beverly Hills and its famous residents at work and play, celebrity home movies and more. We hope you’ll join us as we say thanks to the city for being a great home. We love the waterworks and we’re looking forward to the next century.