Founded on September 4, 1781, Los Angeles is 232 years old. It’s older than Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. In fact, when L.A.’s founders were gathering at El Pueblo, the city’s birthplace, New York City was still occupied by the British army. Which means we have a long history to tell. To do that, we are sharing the stories behind iconic objects that represent our city.
#119: Dorothy Chandler Bell
Fabulously wealthy amateur musician William Andrews Clark, Jr. collected books and art, and built a huge mansion in West Adams. In 1919, he decided that Los Angeles should have a permanent symphony orchestra, and bankrolled the Los Angeles Philharmonic. After spending decades in a drafty old hall, the group began a fundraising effort for a new home in 1955. It was led by Dorothy Buffum Chandler, daughter of the founder of Buffum’s department stores, and wife of the publisher of the Los Angeles Times. In less than a decade, Chandler raised more than $20 million dollars to build a performing arts complex that would play host to the world’s greatest musicians and establish Los Angeles as a cultural center. This bell hung in her fundraising office. “She used to invite a lot of heavyweight financial people to cocktail parties,” says architect Bruce Becket, son of Music Center architect Welton Becket. “My dad told me those parties were pretty wild. She would point to people in the crowd and say ‘You’re going to give me $50,000!'” The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opened on December 6, 1964.
Photograph courtesy Music Center Archives
By Chris Nichols