You Ask … Studio City Patch Answers is a weekly column for locals looking for solutions to community problem or issues or questions—from public nuisances, to eyesores, to local mysteries.
If you have a question, a query, a gripe about a public problem in Studio City, post it below in the COMMENTS area or send it to MikeS@patch.com and we'll get an answer for you. Come back and look for your answer every Monday in the Opinion area.
If your question appears in our column you will receive a gift certificate of $25 to a local business from Studio City Patch.
And, if you think there's a question that Mr. McGrath can't answer about Studio City, well then, you don't know Jack . . .
Birds in the Busch
I've seen some of the stories about this exotic bird up a tree in my neighborhood and it occurred to me that some of these may be remnants of Busch Gardens that was in Van Nuys. What do you think?
Busch Gardens was a major tourist attraction in the '60s and '70s at the Anheuser Busch brewery off of Roscoe Boulevard in Van Nuys. My longtime friend, Andy Grant, was the general manager from 1969 to 1976.
He tells me in a phone interview, they had 2,222 birds in captivity at the Gardens. At various times, the birds would get loose. They would end up in back yards of neighbors in the area. Andy would send his zoo staff over to find the lost birds. He then started receiving calls from people who lost their birds, and needed help. The staff would help find the wayward birds.
The big problem, according to Grant, would be when large Chilian Pink Flamingo birds would get loose, and end up on the runway at the Van Nuys airport. It would not be good pr for the airport to allow jets to take off and suck up the birds in the engine intakes. So the Department of Airports would close down the runways until the wayward birds, could be caught and brought back to Busch Gardens by the zoo staff.
The bird zoos were a big hit for a number of years, and seven other Busch Gardens were constructed in cities across the United States. The Van Nuys park never made money, and was closed in December of 1976.
Andy Grant moved to London, where he built a very successful business developing tourist attractions of the famous castles in England.
Arch Drive's Circular History
I've lived in an apartment on Arch Drive for the past 20-something years and I love it. It is up against the Los Angeles River on one side and I wondered if there were ever any single family homes in the area. I do remember a nursery at the end of the road at one point, but what was it like before?
Circling for an answer,
Dear Clay ,
Arch is a very strange street at the east end of Studio City, just west of Vineland Avenue.
It does not travel north south, nor east and west, but starts on Ventura Boulevard, curves around, and ends on Ventura Boulevard. And no, there is no streetlight on either end.
This street started with apartments in the early '60s, and has been large apartments ever since. No condos or single family homes, but only apartments. It's a very short walk to Ventura Boulevard, since the street does not go anywhere.
I talked to a few engineers, and they believed a developer bought the land and subdivided the land only for multiple use. To the north of the street is the Los Angeles River, so it would be expensive to try to expand the area for additional development with a bridge over the river.
So we have to presume, the developer named the street Arch Drive, since it is an arch, really not a typical street.
A Mid-Eastern Temple on Ventura?
There's a strange building at 12229 Ventura Boulevard that really sticks out like a sore thumb. It looks like some kind of Middle-Eastern temple or castle. What is inside?
Scratching my temple,
This building which was originally the Tehran restaurant is now Romanov Restaurant & Lounge. It was developed by a Russian businessman named Mikayel Israyelyan, who has developed and operated other restaurants in Los Angeles.
The two turrets at each end of the building, are a knockoff of the design in Red Square in Moscow. It is a very powerful design inside, and is primarily booked for special events on the weekends.
They welcome Studio City residents to drop by any week day to see the premises. It has a front elevator at the front of the property. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jack himself took me to the restaurant to give me a tour of the impressive decor inside, and a most impressive chandelier, which is probably the most spectacular in all of Studio City!)
Are any family members from the William Mellenthin Co. still around in the SF Valley?
The father, William Mellenthin was the founder of the company. His son, Michael, took over the company and built many houses in the San Fernando Valley. Michael, is a resident of Studio City, and is a commercial property owner in Studio City.
Realtors still love to receive a listing of a Mellenthin home. They have a distinct design, with a bird cage at the top of the roof. They are known to keep their value even in a downturn.
William started building subdivisions in 1935. One was Hidden Woods, located near Riverside Drive Elementary School. In Studio City in the 40's, and 50's, he built homes on Sunshine Terrace and Laurel Canyon Blvd.
The Mellenthin home is still considered one of the best designed homes in the San Fernando Valley.
The Houdini Mystery
I was wondering if that home on Laurel Canyon Boulevard just over the hill at Lookout Mountain is really the home of Harry Houdini?
I'm going to let our Studio City Patch Editor handle this one. And, Happy Halloween.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I wrote extensively about this for the Los Angeles Times, and researched it for about a month. All public records for the place were gone, I talked to a Houdini relative who even visited him in Los Angeles, as well as many historians and journalists, but even though the house is listed in a dozen tour books as being his house, there is no solid evidence he ever set foot there. Because of my story, the realtors stopped calling it the Houdini Estate, but that doesn't stop the legends. Houdini would have rented the house, and there are no lease records available.
The answer is as mysterious as the magician himself. I tend to believe Houdini expert and magician Manny Weltman of the Magic Castle who says, "If there's any evidence that Houdini set foot on that property, I'll eat my magic hat."—Mike
This week, if your question gets asked, you can get a $25 gift certificate to any of the below businesses:
* The Magic Apple magic shop
* Knight Ware Inc. game shop
* Mark's Pet Supplies
*Rusty's Discount Pet Center