Sportsmen's Lodge: Where Hollywood Went Suburban

Up until around the time it became Sportsmen's Lodge in 1942, this was a rural attraction, far away from most people at the end of a dirt road.

Sportsmen's Lodge: Where Hollywood Went Suburban
"Theme of fashion benefit fits this photo as pretty models test props and get acquainted with setting for 'Fashion Highlights in Life of My Fair Lady' on April 4. Locale will be Sportsmen's Lodge, North Hollywood. Sponsors are ladies of Notre Dame High School Patrons Club. Fair ladies, from left, are Mmes. D. W. Donahue, Charles Todd, Gino Conte and Rudy Falvo." March 19, 1957. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
March 3, 1948. Valley Times Collection/LAPL

Season two, episode five of "Columbo" featured a scene shot at Sportsmen's Lodge, an entity you could call a restaurant but was really more of a community center for multiple generations of Angelenos.

Sportsmen's Lodge operated on a pretty big chunk of land in Studio City. It was built around a small body of water that was diverted into multiple ponds from the 1880s, when trout fishing there was commercialized, through the 1920s, when adult fish were first trucked in from farms for catch-and-eat entertainment. At one point the business was called "Hollywood Trout Farms;" in the 1930s and early '40s it was "Trout Lakes." Up until around the time it became Sportsmen's Lodge in 1942, this was a rural attraction, far away from most people at the end of a dirt road.

LA Times. June 14, 1968.

The San Fernando Valley urbanized as the entertainment industry grew, and Sportsmen's Lodge became less of a country-fried diversion and more of a meeting hall for the many midwestern transplants who brought their earnest, community-minded culture with them. Many articles were written over the years attempting to describe the Lodge as a glamorous Hollywood hangout, but it really looks like any celebrity appearances were incidental: they were sometimes at the Lodge, because the Lodge was a big place with a lot going on. The writers were possibly confusing "hip" with "a lot of TV shows shot scenes here."

LA Times. May 31, 1964.

Charitable foundations, youth groups, professional associations, wives-of-professionals associations: they made up very middle class, very suburban scene at Sportsmen's Lodge. The image above shows three different events at the Lodge announced on the same day.

"Winning couple Sylvia Romoff and Murray Hoffman, center, receive trophy from Handre Blau, left, dance instructor, and Bernice Rappaport, right, his dancing partner, at Valleyites City of Hope Spring Soiree at Sportsmen's Lodge, North Hollywood. Proceeds from affair went toward hospital activities. Valleyite group is composed of young adults." April 6, 1956. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
When L.A. was a small town. LA Times. February 12, 1964.

Most of the old structure has been torn down and re-built as an outdoor mall, Shops at Sportsmen's Lodge. Overall, it seems not bad: the developers have incorporated a little nature into the property. The U.S. doesn't really do social clubs like it used to, so that part of the Lodge is probably lost to history. As are hats. Please enjoy these photos of the Sportsmen's Lodge of yesteryear, and the glorious hats people wore to luncheons and teas there.

"Mrs. Harry Loud, left, accepts gavel of Sherman Oaks Woman's Club from Mrs. E. R. Butterfield, installing officer and past State junior coordinator. Mrs. W. C. Rehwold, right, takes office also for second term as first vice president. Ceremonies were held at Sportsmen's Lodge." June 14, 1956. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
"'Emerald Elegance' was the theme chosen by members of the Valley Panhellenic Association for their annual fashion-luncheon benefit, this year featuring the fabulous creations of Travilla. Setting for the gala affair was Sportsmen's Lodge with Mrs. C. J. Walley as general chairman. Funds from the event will be used for scholarships for Valley high school girls. This year's scholarship winners will be announced at a tea planned for May." Photograph caption reads, "Tickets aid scholarship fund. Mmes. Neal Fugate, left, William Bradley buy more." April 3, 1961. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
"Spring hats bloom. Mrs. William Pollack." April 3, 1961. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
"Joseph Shell, candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, called on a Valley audience Thursday to help him reverse the trend that has pushed California 'further into socialism than any other state.' Speaking before 500 women from the Federated Republican Women's clubs in the Valley and Hollywood at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City, Shell declared: 'It took Soapy Williams 12 years to ruin the state of Michigan, but it's taken Pat Brown only four years to ruin California.'... Shell, who emphasized he was the only gubernatorial candidate who understood the state's problems, repeated his contention that he may be ahead of both Nixon and Brown in the polls by May 10." April 27, 1962. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
"Colorful hats complete the afternoon ensembles of Mrs. Ollen Peck, North Hollywood, left, and Mrs. Mike Myers, Encino." August 16, 1962. Valley Times Collection/LAPL
"Planners for annual fashion show sponsored by the North Hollywood Junior Woman's Club are, from left, Mmes. John Notter, Edwin Kysar and Ronald Firestone. The event will be held March 20 at Sportsmen's Lodge, Studio City." March 12, 1965. Valley Times Collection/LAPL