Inside 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

With apologies to Joe Campana, here’s the Charles Mintz staff circa 1932 superimposed on their studio building in 2017.

Last fall, when I visited 1154 N. Western Ave.–Charles Mintz’s first Hollywood studio–I had to bask in its history from outside on the sidewalk. Some of the businesses that currently rent space in the building even had signage specifically requesting that you not ring their doorbells.

But on the same L.A. trip, I also went to Mintz’s second studio, at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.–and I strolled right in, hung around, and chatted with its occupants, who are well aware of their building’s connection to animation history and tickled by it. The lovably quaint Spanish-style structure is now home to LAXART, an experimental art space which would be worth visiting even if it weren’t hallowed ground for Scrappy fans.

I wrote about 7000 Santa Monica’s rich legacy in 2015. To recap, it was built in 1929 and originally served as RCA Victor’s west-coast headquarters. For roughly seven years it was home to the Mintz studio, until Columbia took over and relocated the staff to 861 Seward St. (I visited that, too, and plan to write about it.) Eventually, the ex-Mintz facility became Radio Recorders, a legendary recording studio where everyone from Louis Armstrong to Frank Zappa made music which the world still cares about.

Having taken a gander at the building via Google Maps long before I dropped by in person,  I knew that 7000 Santa Monica’s exterior was still very much recognizable as its 1930s self. It’s lost most of its roof tiles and gained a rather enormous tree and a gate–and sadly, it no longer says “The Charles Mintz Studio” and “Screen Gems, Inc.” above the door. But if Sid Marcus or Art Davis were teleported there today from the great beyond, they’d know exactly where they were.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd. circa 1932, in Mintz’s staff photo (top) and in 2017

One of my big questions, of course, was whether the interior still looked like the inside of a 1930s animation studio. Well, not really. The place has been through a lot of reinventions over the decades, and presently has the open spaces, white walls, and lack of ornamentation that you’d expect of an art gallery. (When I was there, an interesting exhibit of Latin America video art filled it up.)

There was one element that looked like it had been there since Charlie Mintz’s day, because it almost certainly had: a built-in safe in an alcove-like area on the second floor. It was manufactured by the Cary Safe Co. of Buffalo, which Wikipedia says went out of business in 1929, the same year 7000 Santa Monica was erected. I don’t know offhand what a 1930s animation studio proprietor would have wanted to secure in a vault, but there seems a decent chance that Mintz used it for something. And while I didn’t think to ask, it’s nice to hold out hope that it’s currently locked up and filled with priceless Scrappy art which will some day be busted loose.

Cary Safe

Visiting LAXART and chatting with staffers Hamza Walker and Makayla Bailey about their building was a joy. Landmarks like Termite Terrace and Disney’s Hyperion studio were demolished long ago; 7000 Santa Monica–for all the ways it’s changed since the young men and women of the Mintz studio worked there–is living history that’s open to the public.

7000 Santa Monica entrance

On top, Charles Mintz and his sister Anna in front of his cartoon studio; below, LAXART program & curatorial assistant Makayla Bailey and executive director Hamza Walker in 2017

Let’s end this post with a cartoon produced in this building 83 years ago…

3 comments to Inside 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

  • D.Wilt

    In most of “Let’s Ring Doorbells,” Scrappy & Oopy have solid black pupils for eyes, but in some sequences later in the cartoon they have “normal” eyes (black dots on white). Odd.

  • Harry

    It’s almost a defining trademark of Mintz cartoons that they didn’t worry much about continuity–not only from cartoon to cartoon, but scene to scene,

  • theorbys

    That eye thing sure does change the look and feel of the characters. Still that house was a bit of a haunted house so the haunted, hole like, all black pupil eye look worked ok.

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