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Here Lies Liberty: Steven Anthony and his fight against eminent domain

Wendy Horowitz, Librarian, Photo Department,
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The issue of eminent domain continues to be the subject of heated debate: progress versus preservation, the benefit of the many at the cost of the few, the rights of the county over the rights of the individual.  However, in the case of the ill-fated Hollywood Museum, there was no debate; the county invoked its power and the individual had no say.  In 1963, a group of motion picture industry heavyweights headed by Sol Lesser, Gregory Peck, Mary Pickford and Walt Disney, decided to create a museum showcasing the history of movies, radio and television to be located across the street from the Hollywood Bowl.  The land at Alta Loma Terrace and Fairfield Avenue was already a developed lot with quaint "storybook cottage" style houses dotting the hillside, but the powerful museum committee still managed to convince the County to use eminent domain to force the homeowners out and bulldoze the area.  All but one accepted the low-ball settlement offers. Bartender and former marine Steven Anthony lived with his wife and three children at 6655 Alta Loma Terrace, and he wasn't buying the line that a museum celebrating the entertainment industry was an essential and necessary service to the community.   Brandishing a shotgun, he kept the sherrif's deputies at bay for several weeks amidst the rubble of his neighbors' homes.  Finally on April 13, 1964, as a last ditch ruse to get Anthony out, undercover sheriff's deputies, posing as fellow marines sympathetic to his cause, gained entry into the house and immediately arrested Anthony on an 8 year-old traffic warrant.  Moments later, deputies lying in wait swarmed the house and removed its contents.   Anthony returned the next morning out on bail just in time to watch his house being torn down.  As for the "essential and necessary" Hollywood Museum, mismanagement of funds, lack of organization and internal squabbling caused the project to be abandoned, and the site that was once a picturesque hillside community became what the county supervisors actually wanted all along: increased parking space for the Hollywood Bowl.

Steven Anthony, aiming a shotgun, refuses to vacate his home

Steven Anthony and his shotgun, posing for reporters from the Valley Times.

After tricking Anthony out of the house, deputies waste no time in removing his furniture and belongings.

Despite several appeals and growing support from Los Angeles residents, Anthony loses his house to the wrecking ball.

Gone but not forgotten: Supporters of Steven Anthony pay tribute with a memorial on a left-over strip of land donated by another ousted homeowner of Alta Loma Terrace.

All images from the Los Angeles Public Library's Valley Times Collection

For the whole story, visit the L.A. Times Historical database and the LAPL Photo Collection, both at www.lapl.org

To see the neighborhood as it was before it was razed, go to the Sanborn Map database under Research & Homework, also at www.lapl.org.  Select volume 10A, sheet 1092.

 

 

 


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