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The Uplifters Clubhouse in the Pacific Palisades

Aug 29, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Designed by the noted architect William J. Dodd, the Uplifters Clubhouse, located in the Pacific Palisades, is #663 on the list of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments.

Started in 1913 as an offshoot of the well-known Los Angeles Athletic Club–which was founded in 1880–the Uplifters was built as a social club and ranch.

The mission of the Uplifters was to "uplift art, promote good fellowship and build a closer acquaintance," among members.

During the twenties, 1923, the Uplifters built another facility in Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, where they built a Clubhouse along with a swimming pool, baseball diamond, and tennis courts. Social events like dinner meetings, annual outings, and Poets’ Dinners, continued throughout the thirties and, as the events gradually dwindling in number, by 1947, the Club was closed.

What first drew the Uplifters to Rustic Canyon was the relative isolation of the area, which remains today. Not surprisingly, during the Prohibition era, the Uplifters were known as a high-class drinking club, of which many prominent local politicians and wealthy residents of the city were members.

Following the Depression, the club began to sell off the homes and other holdings in the area and finally disbanded in 1947. The original Clubhouse and Ranch, however, were donated to the city of Los Angeles. Now, although the name has changed to the Rustic Canyon Recreation Center, the Uplifters live on, even if in name only.

One of the coolest parts of the Clubhouse was the old James D. Kaplan gym. With its wooded rafters ceiling, I could almost imagine them shooting hoops and playing basketball. In case you didn’t guess, those curtains at the end, do indeed open up to a small stage, which is still being used.

Dedicated on June 29th, 1929, the James D. Kaplan gym was built in honor of Louis F. Gottschalk, musician, conductor, and composer; and also one of the prominent members of the Uplifters.

If you’d like to visit the Clubhouse, you can find it at 601 Latimer Road.

It’s a beautiful drive to get to the Uplifters Clubhouse in the Pacific Palisades, and if you’re in the mood, try riding a bike there for a good workout as there’s plenty of hills up there.

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