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Old Posted Dec 23, 2012, 3:49 AM
tovangar2 tovangar2 is offline
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Location: West Los Angeles
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Diamond Bob's 111-year-old Date Palms at the Plaza Hotel, Hollywood

google maps

Col Robert Northam, called "Diamond Bob" for his extravagant tastes, made a fortune off real estate in Huntington Beach while working for Abel Stearns.
In 1901 he bought the block bordered by Hollywood, Vine, Selma and what-was-then Cosmo, of the original Hollywood tract, from Philo & Daeida Wilcox Beveridge.
Northam built a Spanish/Moorish home, surrounded by citrus trees and date palms, smack in the center of the block, facing east.
In 1902 he added another parcel, also acquired from the Beveridges, southeast of Vine and Selma where he built a barn and raised horses.
Less than two years later Diamond Bob moved on again, selling his Hollywood property to Jacob Stern (some accounts claim Northam lost the property to Stern in a bet).

Original Wilcox/Beveridge Hollywood tract:

The original plans for the Northam home were more ambitious that what was actually built. (It was planned for Northam's first wife and finished for his second):


Diamond Bob Northam's house with citrus trees and date palms facing Vine, ca 1901-03:
(the palms don't even have trunks yet, they're just sprays of fronds coming out of the ground)

Northam-Stern estate, east front of house.
The palms have gained a bit of height., 1910:
(population of Hollywood: 5,000)


Northam-Stern estate, 1920, showing the great arc of date palms (Hollywood & Vine, upper right):
(population of Hollywood: 100,000)

2012. Compare with the shot immediately above. The site of the remaining palms was at the NE corner of the Northam-Stern house
(The site of the actual house is now a vacant lot. - 2017 UPDATE: it's a parking structure now):

google maps

Stern meant to keep the estate until retirement, but the crush of commercial development led him to rent his barn in 1913
to filmmakers LL Burns and Harry Revier who, in turn, sublet it later that same year, to Lasky, Goldfish (Goldwyn) and DeMille
of The Lasky Company/Famous Players (the deal was signed at the Alexandria Hotel, drawn up on Alexandria stationary).

DeMille signs on the dotted line for the Lasky Company, 1913:


Northham-Stern estate, center left margin.
Famous Players/Paramount stretches along Sunset Blvd, east of Vine.
(including DeMille barn at SE corner, Vine and Selma), pre 1925

In 1925, giving up all hope of a quiet life on Vine Street, Stern enthusiastically embraced real estate development
and built the Hollywood Plaza Hotel (Walker & Eisen, 1925) on Vine near Hollywood Blvd, carefully preserving
a stand of Diamond Bob's date palms to enhance an outdoor lounge plaza for guests at the rear of the building,
giving the hotel its name. The plaza was called Patio de las Palmas.

The extremely convenient hotel attracted a fabulous clientele.

Patio de las Palmas, 1925


In 1931 the palm grove became The Russian Eagle Garden Cafe with an equally awesome roster of customers,
Greta Garbo always sitting at the same table.

The Russian Eagle Garden Cafe, 1931:


Two palms were moved in 1952 to build a pool in the palm grove for guests.
(Palms have very shallow roots and are actually easy to move and replant. Their tap root grows back quickly)

ebay via e_r

In 1973 the pool was filled in and the hotel converted to senior housing.
The building's owner, Robert Stern, grandson of Jacob, resisted
advice to grub out the palms for additional parking.
The date palms still stand, 50 to 60 feet tall and 111-years old.



Other 1920's development on the west side of Vine between Hollywood and Selma:
Vine Street Theater (Myron Hunt, 1926)
Dyas Specialty Emporium/The Broadway Hollywood (Frederick Rice Dorn, 1927)
Mom's/The Curb Charbroiler/Molly's (1928)

More info:


As of February 2017, the palms are still there and now 116 years old (here seen from Ivar):


Last edited by tovangar2; May 24, 2017 at 6:46 AM. Reason: fix pix
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