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Artists Roster

In the Old Days:
Windward Avenue

Canals, Bridges


Lagoon and Midway

Miniature Railroad

Night Scenes

Market Street

Scenic Railway

1921 Amusements

Cabrillo Ship Cafe'

Venice Pier

Bath House or Plunge




Arielle Haze
Venice Photos

Arielle Haze views
Beach Art

Scott Shellstrom
Venice art

Jack Chipman

Dale Hartman

Venice Paintings by
Pat Hartman

Ehrlich buildings
Homage to Old Venice

Chris Burden

Unpainting the Town:
lost murals

Helen K. Garber photos

Jeff Verges

Lance Diskan

Avid Brickman

Art at the Rose Cafe'

New Venice Sign

Robbie Conal

Venice-based Art

Ferus Gallery

Mario Barrios

Gary Steinborn

Earl Newman

St. Charles Mural

Spoons of Venice

Rena Small


In the Old Days:

Mecca Buffet

The Mecca Buffet was one of the original buildings of 1905 Venice. The main entrance was on Market Street and the building also faced on the boardwalk. Originally there were two stories of brick, topped by what appears to be a wooden structure. It is an odd historical fact that the Mecca Buffet waiters were the first lifeguards of Venice Beach. Maybe they kept watch from the roof?

Above: The Boardwalk at Venice Beach in the early 1900s.
In the foreground on the right or landward side is St. Mark's Hotel, at Ocean Front and Windward, also one of Venice's original buildings. It was demolished in 1964. Then a vacant lot with five columns in place but no building. Next is the Mecca Cafe.
On the left (west) side is the Plunge or bathhouse, which was open to the public and also sponsored swimming events that drew as many as 5000 spectators. In a bizarre publicity stunt, manager Jake Cox put on full-body suit that appeared to be made of shag carpeting, set himself on fire and dove from the rafters into the water.
Also seen are signs for the Potter Apartments, where Ann Nietzke many years later wrote Windowlight, her memoir of Venice in the late 1970s.
Also visible is the sign of the Neptune Theater, built around 1915. In 1923 a judge was speaking onstage against the proposed annexation of Venice to Los Angeles, and someone tried to shoot him.

Jeffrey Stanton says Harrah’s was in the Plaza building at the entrance of the pier, and opened July 1932. Others say that Harrah’s was in the Mecca building. There’s no reason why gambling establishments couldn’t have been in both places and many more besides. At other stages of its history, the building was a drug store and a 20-bartender saloon.

The Mecca Buffet turned out to be one of the most famous buildings in America in its later incarnation as the Gas House.

Mecca building as Bridgo parlor 1947

Former Mecca Buffet in a photo Jeffrey Stanton dates 1947. Bridgo is a variety of bingo.


During construction

Mecca Buffet when new, circa 1905

In both the above views, we are looking more or less Westward, seeing just a corner of the Mecca building. The structure decorated like a series of caves is the Thompson Scenic Railway.

The Thompson Scenic Railway, on the right, west, or seaward side, shows the effects of its 1913 remodeling in a postcard mailed in 1916. The Mecca building is on the left or inland side of Ocean Front Walk.

Interior, Mecca Buffet, early 1900s

© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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