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8745 Appian Way - Mystery Solved!
Posted by Joann Deutch, Attorney on Dec 18, 2011 - 11:25:57 AM

LAUREL CANYONWhile searching for the roots of the Lookout Inn perched on Appian Way, I discovered an entry in the 1932 Los Angeles Phone Directory for 8745 Appian Way.  Miss Whiteman served as the supervisor of a sanitarium. A sanitarium desguised as a camp? Was this the site of Lookout Inn before it burned down?

12203 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, Ca. 91604


Now that I have made peace with the fact that the Lookout Inn was located on Appian Way I wanted to know more about the Inn.  How big was it?  Did it really have a ballroom? Did guests come for a month, like they did at the turn of the century in the White Mountains in upstate New Hampshire, or the Catskills in upstate New York?  If it wasn’t for overnight accommodations, was it more like a club?


So what usually happens with my investigations happened - I get side-tracked. The Inn is disappointingly memorialized by two paltry postcards. There are few newspaper articles giving us little information about the “who, what and why” of day-to-day operations of the Inn. So I set about looking for its address, hoping to find a map. I struck out.  Records dating back to the 1910s are scarce. I imagined I was looking for a large lot on Appian Way. A drive along the street came to naught. While there are several large houses there, I didn’t think any were big enough to have been the site for an inn that had a ballroom. So I turned to old phone directories. In searching Appian Way, I came across an address that was a possibility - 8745 Appian Way. It was listed as the residence of Mary Whiteman, who by profession was identified as a supervisor.  What kind of house needs a supervisor in residence? That struck me as odd. More noising around turned up a housekeeper, Kate Dorland, along with Eugene Dorland, a butler; Denis Smithson, a caretaker and May Smithson, a cook.  My curiosity was peaked. This kind of staff must have worked at a monster house, something you’d expect in Beverly Hills. Maybe this was what was built on the burned out remains of the Lookout Inn.

I had originally researched these directories trying to figure out what kind of people lived up in the hills years ago, as a clue to the type of neighborhood it was when it was first built. These old directories listed the address, phone number, profession, and residence for each house which had a telephone. It was closer to a mini census report, than today’s secretive White Pages. I was on to something. Then I discovered another entry for 8745 Appian Way. It was called El Nido Camp, where Miss Whiteman served as the supervisor of a sanitarium. Is it possible that the sanitarium and camp were one and the same? Now that’s an odd combination, and most likely a disguise of some sort. It was, after all 1932.  Were children sent to the camp for its fresh air? A sanitarium suggested mental health issues.


El Nido Camp did not make any headlines. After more digging I uncovered old minutes in the society pages for a meeting of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), which mentioned their supervision of the El Nido Camp in Laurel Canyon. There’s a National Council of Jewish Women’s thrift shop at 12203 Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. Is there a connection?  Yes. The NCJW continues to support the El Nido Family Centers in Los Angeles ( Something that started in our neighborhood so long ago continues to serve those in need.


Even more astounding -  I spoke with a woman who lived at El Nido Camp when she was 9 years old.  Stay tuned!


Cliffside Malibu




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