The Factory was built in 1929 to accommodate the booming success of the Mitchell Camera Corporation. Mitchell Cameras revolutionized filmmaking and continued to influence camera technology until the digital era arrived in the early 2000s. Following the camera company’s move to the suburbs in 1946, The Factory was converted to serve a series of new uses--most famously, Studio One, a pioneering gay disco that opened in 1974.
Founded by a Beverly Hills optometrist and openly gay man, Studio One provided a place for gay men to socialize and proudly and openly celebrate their identity while being entertained by the likes of Patti LaBelle, Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli. As such, it was associated with the gay rights movement throughout its history. When the AIDS epidemic hit in the early 1980s, for example, one of the nation’s first major fundraisers took place at Studio One.
Today, The Factory, one of the last remaining industrial buildings in West Hollywood built specifically for the technical aspects of the film industry, is threatened with demolition. A large-scale hotel project would route a pedestrian “paseo” or walkway directly through a portion of the site on which The Factory now sits. This route could easily be realigned to spare this landmark from the wrecking ball.