New Sites Recognized for Historical Significance

The Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commission nominated three sites for Golden Shield Award recognition and also finalized the plaque language for two previous honorees. 

During its Jan. 11 meeting, the commission discussed the new nominees, which include two recognizable restaurants, La Dolce Vita and the Dolores Drive-In. The commission’s third selection at their meeting was the site of the former Wonderbread Bakery, near Alpine Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard.

“I remember growing up and you could smell the bread from everywhere on Santa Monica Boulevard,” Commissioner Craig Corman said of the former bakery. “It’s one of those memories that’s just baked into your brain; sorry for the pun.”

The Wonderbread Bakery, also known as Holsum Bakery, opened in 1924. It had a plaster exterior with red brick trim and was one of several bakeries in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas to begin selling pre-sliced bread, a novelty in the 1930s that would become the norm in the United States. It is one of two recent Golden Shield nominees that were eventually closed and no longer physically exist in the city.

Before the Dolores Drive-In was razed to build an office building in 1981, it had been a place people gathered to celebrate California’s car culture while enjoying burgers and sodas. It was opened by Ralph and Amanda Stevens in 1946 on Wilshire Boulevard, near Le Doux Road, and named after one of their daughters. Over the years it wound up featured in numerous murals and other works of art, and commissioners noted that its proximity to an upcoming Metro station makes it a prime location to highlight for visitors to Beverly Hills.

The third Golden Shield nominee, La Dolce Vita, almost suffered the same fate as the bakery and drive-in. It was shuttered as the result of the pandemic in 2020 but was renovated and reopened by new owners last March. It had been a regular hangout for classic movie stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra, the latter being one of the restaurant’s initial investors.

Three other locations, Arturo Shoe Fixx and the original sites of the Beverly Hills Athletic Club and Beverly Hills Garage, were also considered at the meeting. Although they were not selected as Golden Shield honorees this time, commissioners acknowledged their historical significance and were still in the running for future nominations. 

Commissioners also revised details of the process to select and inform the public of culturally significant sites and finalized language on plaques for two previously selected Golden Shield recipients. These were the Beverly Hills Handbag Studio, jeweler and purveyor of fine goods David Orgell and the site of Ye Old Bridle Path.

The Beverly Hills Handbag Studio was founded by Leopold Pfefferberg-Page. He was a Holocaust survivor who tried to tell practically every writer who walked into the store about how German industrialist Oskar Schindler helped him, his family and over 1,000 Jewish people avoid the horrors of Nazi concentration camps.

David Orgell founded his business on Rodeo Drive in 1958. The high-end jewelry he sold to celebrities and royalty helped create the city’s reputation for luxury.

Ye Old Bridle Path in the area of Sunset and Roxbury drives hearkens to the earliest days of the city’s existence. It served as the parade route for annual horse shows that began in 1925. As horse travel became obsolete, it was later reopened to cyclists in the late ‘30s. But eventually it was curbed and paved over as automobiles became America’s primary mode of transportation in the ‘50s.