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[Historic Bars] The Dresden in Los Angeles

Posted on: August 22nd, 2014 by Lauren Walser 1 Comment

 

Preservation Nation continues its tour of historic bars as we sashay our way into America’s historic cocktail lounges, the upscale gin joints where high society has sipped sophistication for decades. This week, we check out the Dresden in Los Angeles.

The Dresden has been a Los Angeles institution since 1954. Credit: Blaise Nutter
The Dresden has been a Los Angeles institution since 1954.

Even if you’ve never been to the Dresden is Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood, chances are, you’ve seen it.

Since it opened in its current iteration in 1954, the Dresden has been ready for its close-up, lending its dark, retro interior to a number of films. It’s where Trent (played by Vince Vaughn) delivers his impassioned “You’re so money” speech” as Mike (Jon Favreau) gathers the nerve to flirt with the object of his affection in Swingers. And it’s where Guy Patterson (Tom Everett Scott) meets his idol, musician Del Paxton (Bill Cobbs), in That Thing You Do.

In many ways, the Dresden is that perfect old Hollywood lounge. Walk in the front door off noisy Vermont Avenue, and you’re taken back to the Los Angeles of yore. Little has changed there since it was remodeled in the ‘60s by then-owner Carl Ferraro. (Previously, it had been another eatery, Pucci’s Café, which opened in the 1930s; before that, it was a paint store.)

Pause in the small lobby area and let your eyes adjust to the dim lighting. To your right will be a private room, perfect for small gatherings or for escaping the fray of the crowded bar. To your left will be the restaurant, with white leather booths, funky floor-to-ceiling light fixtures, and a menu offering classic American fare such as prime rib and pork chops.

A popular filming location and celebrity hangout, the Dresden features strong cocktails and live entertainment in a classic old Hollywood environment. Credit: Blaise Nutter
A popular filming location and celebrity hangout, the Dresden features strong cocktails and live entertainment in a classic old Hollywood environment.

Straight ahead is the lounge. The décor there is so retro it’s stylish again. Grab a seat at the bar, or sink into one of the brown leather semi-circular booths along the perimeter against the faux rock walls and wood paneling. Or find space at one of the small, white tables with red rolling chairs clustered closely together underneath large globe chandeliers. For a close-up of the live entertainment, you can sit at the long table wrapping snugly around the grand piano at the center of the room.

The dapper, tuxedoed bartenders mix drinks quickly and expertly, and when it’s time to pay your bill, the old-fashioned cash registers will be put to use.

A Swingers poster hangs, anachronistically, above the wall leading to the restrooms and back exit. Follow that path, and you’ll see a hallway lined with headshots of the Dresden’s famous patrons, including Dolly Parton, Jay Leno, Adam West, and Jon Hamm.

If you show up after 9 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday -- and you should plan your visit around those times -- you can order a cocktail and enjoy the sounds of resident jazz musicians Marty and Elayne, who have been playing classic jazz standards at the Dresden since 1982. Sometimes they’ll share the stage with guest musicians, but more often than not, it’s Marty on the drum kit or upright bass, with Elayne on the piano. The duo even appeared in Swingers.

Jazz musicians Marty and Elayne have been a fixture at the Dresden for more than 30 years. Credit: Sarai Mitnick, Flickr
Jazz musicians Marty and Elayne have been a fixture at the Dresden for more than 30 years.

If you think the Dresden is charming on the silver screen, you should see it for yourself. Here’s what you should know before you go:

Location: The Dresden, 1760 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday 4 to 11 p.m.

Year Opened: 1954

As Seen In: The Two Jakes (1990), Swingers (1996), That Thing You Do (1996), What Women Want (2000), Anchorman (2004)

What to Order: The Blood and Sand, a blended rum-based drink, is the signature cocktail.

Best Yelp Reviews: “I have been visiting the Dresden since the days of Swingers. Walking into the Dresden is like walking back in time.”

“For a quiet change of pace with a touch of old Hollywood, go to the Dresden Room.”

“They have, by far, the best bartender I've ever had. He dresses to the nines with his waistcoat and neatly groomed moustache and is essentially psychic in not only fulfilling but anticipating what you'll want next.”

“Iconic. That says it all. Whether you are a fan because you have frequented it for the last 20 years or you just wanted to trace Mikey's steps from the classic movie Swingers, you must hang out at the Dresden Room and sip on a Blood & Sand.”

Bonus: Check out this interview with Marty and Elayne to learn how their duo came to be.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

 

Members of Historical Good, top row, from left: Kayleigh Travins, Margo Boland, Maggie Shoemaker, and Sophia Brady; bottom row: Bridget Brady. Not pictured: Jen Fox, who was away at camp. Credit: HistoricalGood.org
Members of Historical Good, top row, from left: Kayleigh Travins, Margo Boland, Maggie Shoemaker, and Sophia Brady; bottom row: Bridget Brady. Not pictured: Jen Fox, who was away at camp.

For a group of teenagers in Southborough, Massachusetts, summer vacation came with a mission: saving a 167-year-old mansion.

Known as the Burnett/Garfield House, the Second Empire-style stone structure at 84 Main Street was built c. 1847 as the home of businessman Joseph Burnett and his wife, Josephine. Burnett, an active town leader, created the first liquid vanilla extract commercially produced and sold in the United States.

When it was reported earlier this summer that the mansion’s current owner was considering selling it to a developer who would seek demolition, a group led by local teenagers Bridget Brady, 14, and Jen Fox, 15, rallied to save the 2 ½-story structure, which requires sizable repairs.

“Everything else is fixable,” Brady says, “but demolition isn’t.”

Late last month, in the wake of the group’s protests, the current owner decided not to move forward on the sale. The story isn’t over, though. A full renovation is estimated to cost upwards of $1.5 million.

But given the outpouring of local support to save the house, led in large part by this group of teenagers, the future of the house looks significantly brighter.

We spoke with Bridget Brady, who’s starting her freshman year of high school this fall, about the history of the Burnett/Garfield House and why she felt compelled to save it.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

[Historic Bars] Prost! in Portland, Oregon

Posted on: July 31st, 2014 by Lauren Walser No Comments

 

PreservationNation continues its historic bars series with America’s takes on the beer-brewing bodegas that originally sprouted in the Fatherland. Today's last stop for this particular theme: Portland, Oregon.

The c. 1894 building at 4237 N. Mississippi Avenue had been boarded up and vacant for years before its restoration. Credit: Prost!
The c. 1894 building at 4237 N. Mississippi Avenue had been boarded up and vacant for years before its restoration.

It was the old-world, rustic charm that attracted restaurant owner Dan Hart to the modest, 120-year-old building on a street corner in Portland, Oregon’s historic Mississippi neighborhood.

But it’s the authentic German fare and liters upon liters of German beer that, today, draw thirsty Portlanders to Prost!, a friendly neighborhood beer garden.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

 

Three teenagers stand on the Tent of Tomorrow’s mezzanine platform, also made of steel. Credit: Bill Cotter
Three teenagers stand on the Tent of Tomorrow’s steel mezzanine platform.

World’s Fair sites were rarely built to last. Just a handful of relics of these international expositions remain in the United States -- among them, the New York State Pavilion in Queens, New York.

Built for the 1964-54 World’s Fair, the Space Age structure dazzled visitors with visions of an exciting future. And yet 50 years later, despite decades of neglect and deterioration, the futuristic pavilion still stands in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. How did it do it?... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

HOPE Crew: Training the Next Generation of Preservationists

Posted on: July 3rd, 2014 by Lauren Walser

 

140703_blog_photo_HOPECrew_Hinchliffe_1_DuncanKendall
A HOPE Crew in Paterson, New Jersey, paints Hinchliffe Stadium in April.

As any preservationist knows, the task of caring for and maintaining historic sites is a never-ending one. With that in mind, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently launched a new program called Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE) Crew to introduce preservation to the next generation.

HOPE Crew will provide practical, hands-on preservation training to thousands of young people and veterans through a partnership with The Corps Network, a national advocacy and support group for youth development programs that has more than 100 youth corps members. (Read more about HOPE Crew and its partnership with The Corps Network in the Summer 2014 issue of Preservation magazine.)

Each HOPE Crew will partner with local preservation craftspeople and a preservation adviser who will provide mentorship and training. The corpsmembers receive hourly wages for their work; the professionals who provide their expertise on each project receive compensation, as well.
... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.