The Saint Enterprises Office in 1946 Hollywood

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Saint Enterprises Office in 1946 Hollywood

When Leslie Charteris lived in the Hollywood area in the mid-1940s, he ran Saint Enterprises, a small publishing house, out of an office on North Robertson Blvd. It was on the North-East corner of N Robertson and W Beverly Blvds, just around the corner from The Mysterious Bookshop of all places! Yahoo Maps has nice view of the area. The exact address was:

Saint Enterprises
314 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048-2414

A greatly detailed description of his vast enterprise was written by Leslie Charteris and sent out to a large number of subscribers to his weekly newsletter.

If someone could comment below and tell us all what is there now, that would be wonderful.

From 'A Letter From The Saint', May 16, 1946:
This, then, involved an Office; because as everyone knows no business executive can execute properly without an Office. Wherefore we made ourselves heirs to a heavily mortgaged piece of real estate of sufficiently white elephant proportions to carry the gaudy howdah which we felt our new role in life demanded of us. It has been suggested to us that you might be interested in knowing what this environment is really like.

This exotic mausoleum occupies most of a short block on a Hollywood boulevard otherwise distinguished by hand laundries and hamburger stands. It is a one story building, partly because we are selling most of our spare stories, and partly because we cannot afford insurance for all the visitors who might otherwise fall or be helped down the stairs.

At one end of this building is a large barn known as the Shipping Room, which for some unaccountable reason is usually stacked to the ceiling with large quantities of Saint books which we are still waiting for various characters to buy.

Northwards of this is the main entrance, fronted by a spacious and studiously uncomfortable reception room, where writers, entrepreneurs, and general creditors endeavor to struggle past a receptionist whom we have thoughtfully protected with a sheet of bullet-proof glass. Those who are lucky or persistent enough to gain entrance to the interior, would find on their right the studio of Milt Neil, the artist already referred to, who with the help of three or four assistants turns out our book jackets and other illustrations, as well as plenty of other work of his own. This is a very convenient arrangement for us, but results in a considerable loss of man-hours when he is working on pin-up calendars with live models.

Turning your back on this temptation, you might progress to an open section known as the Slave Market, where the most beautiful girls in the world pound typewriters to perpetuate incomparable manuscripts, or adding machines to keep abreast of our incoming debts.

Opening off this Elysian backwater are a number of black doors with enormous brass handles, resembling bank vaults in every respect except the amount of money cached behind them. These portals admit to various offices occupied by the male bees, or drones, in this hive, or dive.

These are mainly paneled in redwood, fluorescently lighted, healthily ventilated, equipped with bookshelves and restful couches, and swept out once a week. In subsequent letters we may tell you more about their occupants. On this first cursory once-over, you may be informed that one of them contains two gentlemen named Cleve Cartmill and Roby Wentz, who are the mainstays of our Editorial Department, while another harbors our office manager and general panjandrum, Mr. Robert Black, whose perpetually worried expression is probably due to a congenital inability to get used to coping with visiting sheriffs.

A third vault is actually the sanctum sanctorum, or Saint's Den. This over-sized chamber, as befits the hideout of the master mind, contains more bookshelves and more books (mostly by Charteris) than any of the others. It also has a victrola equipped to play radio transcriptions, a radio with short-wave facilities to give adequate warning of police raids, and a piano which has probably been played worse than any similar instrument in the country. Through this Grand Central station passes more busy traffic than any other section of the building, except one.

This section is fortunately next door to my office and is strictly a structural liability. But it always did seem to me that if anyone has to work for a living he might as well have some simple comforts with it.

This other room therefore is a bar. Not one of those converted closets, but a nice big room decorated for mental relief in South Sea island style, with straw matting on the floor, woven bamboo on the walls, and tarred fishnet draped across the ceiling, in which several petrified starfish seem to have become inextricably entangled.

In this sanctuary our braintrust and preferred visitors congregate, first thing in the morning for coffee, at noon for the first cocktails justified by the elevation of the sun across our drooping yardarms, at the end of the day for post mortems, relaxation, and more plans to be disappointed in tomorrow... and since you have let me talk myself into it, that is where I am going now, since this letter is already long enough and I have to save a few items for next week.

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1 comments for The Saint Enterprises Office in 1946 Hollywood


Blogger Dan Bodenheimer said...

By using the new Google Street View option, you can see what is there now. The closest building is now a large gallery, and the next possible building is being renovated. Here's a listing for one of the galleries:
Scalo | Guye
302 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 358-9396

Thursday, August 09, 2007  

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