(April 13, 2022) – The Los Angeles City Council voted today to designate Oil Can Harry’s, the legendary Studio City bar and nightclub, as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
For 52 years, Oil Can Harry’s was a center of LGBTQ life in the San Fernando Valley. “When Oil Can Harry's opened in Studio City in 1968, it was illegal in Los Angeles for two men or two women to dance together. At a time when LGBTQ people were routinely subjected to police harassment and even arrest, Oil Can Harry’s was a place of refuge for LGBTQ people,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who led the effort to secure monument status for the site.
In the 1970s, the club became an informal headquarters for the emerging Gay Pride movement, and the site of many fundraising and organizing events during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. As recently as 2019, Oil Can Harry’s drew world press for its glamorous Grammy Awards afterparty and celebrity-packed country line-dancing sessions.
“One of my predecessors as Councilmember in this district, Joel Wachs, said in a recent interview that well before he could openly express his identity as a gay man he could visit Oil Can Harry’s as a Councilmember supporting a local business,” said Krekorian. “Designation of Oil Can Harry’s as a Historic-Cultural Monument honors the heritage of LGBTQ solidarity and social justice activism in Los Angeles.”
The building, located at 11502 Ventura Blvd., was sold on December 9, 2020, and Oil Can Harry’s closed its doors permanently in January 2021. The property is now listed for sale as a sports/entertainment property. The designation of a property as a Historic-Cultural Monument does not prevent demolition or alteration. However, the designation will require that mitigation steps be proposed to the Cultural Heritage Commission, which will take appropriate action to recognize and preserve historical significance of the location.