World Magazine, Issue 2.10, January 1998
A photo of the Hanna-Barbera Cartoons building, taken
last year when the company was displaying Jonny Quest
banners across the front. Photo courtesy of and © Michelle
Is the Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Building a Historical Monument? Many people in the animation industry think so. But at a public hearing on December 17, 1997 the eight-person board of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) denied to grant Cultural-Historic Monument status to the building at 3400 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, home to Hanna-Barbera Cartoons' television animation production studio for 35 years.
Time Warner, which acquired Hanna-Barbera and its property in the 1996 merger with Turner Enterprises, has strongly opposed the initiative since it was first proposed by a Hanna-Barbera employee. At the final hearing, one of the lawyers representing Warner Bros. pleaded to the board that designation of the building as a historic monument could have "a chilling effect on a sale that's about to happen." Warner Bros. has been negotiating the sale of the building with Universal for several months. Universal owns much of the neighboring property, but at presstime, the sale had yet to be closed. CHC representatives visited the Hanna-Barbera building for review on December 3.
Nearly 50 people were present at the December 17 hearing, including former Hanna-Barbera president Fred Siebert, other ex-employees of the studio, industry professionals and several Time Warner legal and publicity representatives. Despite a show of industry support, including letters from presidents of Women in Animation and the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union, the board voted unanimously against the measure, citing owner opposition as the motivating factor in their decision. Commission members were under pressure from the L.A. mayor's office to vote against the designation. Immediately before making the motion to vote, one board member joked, "I wish I'd gone out and bought 100 shares of Time Warner stock this morning so that I would be disqualified from this vote."
Peter Moruzzi, a member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Conservancy, called the CHC's decision "scandalous," and said, "The bottom line is that the commission did not follow the [city] ordinance. It met the most significant cultural criteria. In the history of television animation, the Hanna-Barbera building is absolutely the most important site in Los Angeles."
Designed by architect Arthur Froehlich, Hanna-Barbera Studios' futuristic Jetsons-style building has become a landmark to the animation industry since it was erected in 1962, five years after William Hanna and Joe Barbera founded the company to produce television animation. This month, the remaining staff of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons is scheduled to be relocated to a Warner Bros. building in Sherman Oaks, where their productions will continue.
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