Harry’s oil canister recommended for monument status

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission on Thursday recommended that the City Council designate Oil Can Harry’s, which closed in January, as a historic-cultural landmark for being one of the oldest gay bars of the San Fernando Valley.

Oil Can Harry’s was opened in Studio City in 1968 by Bert Charot. It closed in January after the property owner sold the property to a buyer planning to turn it into a jazz venue, according to the Oil Can Harry website.

“The creation of Oil Can Harry’s occurred against the backdrop of heightened group resistance to homophobia within the gay civil rights movement in Los Angeles,” said city planning assistant Mickie Torres-Gil.

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“Despite early protests from its Studio City neighbors, Oil Can Harry’s quickly became a haven for the gay community. … It used a spy hole in the front door and an internal siren system to alert patrons of the presence of the police, allowing them to stop dancing or homosexual activity.”

Torres-Gil added that during the AIDS epidemic the club became a “hub for community support and fundraising”, and Charot and his friend Bob Tomasino, who later ran Oil Can Harry’s, raised funds for the fight against AIDS.

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The club has also become a space for the country western subculture of the LGBTQ+ community, hosting country dancing classes two days a week and special western-themed events, Torres-Gil said.

The Los Angeles Conservancy called the meeting to support the nomination and thank Councilman Paul Krekorian for bringing it forward.

“It’s a very big place in terms of LGBTQ+ meaning in LA, especially in the San Fernando Valley where there aren’t a lot of places that help tell that story,” the director said. principal of conservation advocacy, Adrian Scott Fine.

The application will then be submitted to the City Council for final approval.

An HCM designation protects the property from alterations and demolition, and the commission should approve proposed exterior and interior alterations.

According to the planning department, the commission can also object to the issuance of a demolition permit, delaying demolition for up to 180 days, plus another possible 180-day extension, if approved by council. council, to allow time to assess conservation alternatives.

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