Friar's Club Building | Los Angeles Conservancy
Demolition underway. Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Friar's Club Building

The 1961 Friars Club building at 9900 Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills was demolished in early 2011, signifying the continued erosion of Greater L.A.’s legacy of 1960s architecture and underscoring the need for stronger local preservation protections.

According to the City of Beverly Hills Community Development Department, the owner demolished the building with no imminent plans for a replacement project. The city’s review power over the Friars Club property extends only to a new project that would replace the building, not to the demolition of the building itself.

The Friars Club building featured an innovative modernist design that was -- and perhaps still is -- ahead of its time. The structure became the new home of the New York Friars Club annex established by Milton Berle in 1947. It closed its doors in 2008, after last operating as Club 9900.

The building was included in a 2006 survey of commercial structures in Beverly Hills. The survey identified the building as being eligible for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources for its association with the Friars Club, as well as its architectural significance as “a good intact example of the work of a master architect, Sidney Eisenshtat.”

Fortunately, the building’s demolition was not in vain. In January 2012, the City of Beverly Hills adopted a new Preservation Ordinance to help protect the city's irreplaceable historic and cultural resources. A wave of high-profile demolitions, including that of the Friars Club Building, helped catalyze the community and City leaders, leading to the ordinance adoption and other significant progress in protecting historic places in Beverly Hills.

Video about the building from the club's heyday

Sidney Eisenshtat (1914-2005), architect for the Friar's Club, was a prominent Los Angeles-based architect whose notable designs included schools, community centers, bank buildings, and synagogues. He was internationally recognized for his development of synagogue architecture; some of his innovative designs include Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills and Sinai Temple in Westwood. Eisenshtat's designs were often characterized by dramatically oversized interior rooms and exterior walls typically made of thin-slab concrete or brick.