A Venice Beach Boardwalk building that formerly housed the Venice West Café, where “Beat” poets met for readings in the late 1950s and early 1960s, has been added to the list of historic-cultural monuments in Los Angeles.
The City Council voted Friday, March 19th to approve the historic-cultural monument designation for the building at 321 Ocean Front Walk in Venice. The city Cultural Heritage Commission had found that the structure successfully meets one of the landmark criteria by reflecting the “broad cultural, economic or social history of the community.”
Built in 1922, the one-story building at Dudley Avenue and Ocean Front Walk is the former site of the Venice West Café, which opened in 1958 to cater to the emerging Bohemian scene in the Venice area. As the Beat Generation evolved in Venice, many poets gathered at the café to write and recite their works, while listening to jazz.
Local artists who spent time at the café and read their works there included The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison and poet Allen Ginsberg.
John Haag, a co-founder of the Peace and Freedom Party and owner of the café, was arrested for distributing reading advertisements without a city permit but the case was later dismissed and he eventually closed the business in 1966.
Cultural Heritage Commission staff said the property qualified for city monument designation as a building associated with the Venice West Café and the development of mid-20th century Bohemian counter-culture.