Inside the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California, the Yamashiro Historic District is situated on Sycamore Avenue.
The villa which serves as that of the district’s focal point was built for the German-American brothers Charles L. Bernheimer (July 18, 1864 – July 1, 1944) as well as Adolph L. Bernheimer (October 6, 1866 – March 18, 1944) to shelter their catalogue of Japanese art as well as precious assets from 1911 to 1914 by artisans and craftsmen from Japan. The Yamashiro Hollywood was indeed the name of the business, although it was also renowned as that of the Bernheimer Villa and Oriental Gardens.
The house was given the name Yamashiro since it was built on top of a hill. Yamashiro is indeed a Japanese term that meaning “mountain castle”. The area is made up of the villa, a few smaller structures (some of which are no longer standing), and manicured gardens. In 2012, the area was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The property is now home to an Asian restaurant. While the Bernheimer brothers spent a significant amount of money to build a location to house their Japanese antiquities, estimated to be approximately $2 million, the majority of their art collection was auctioned off near the end of their life in the early 1920s.
Throughout this remarkable period, known as the Roaring Twenties, the Yamashiro Hollywood rose to prominence as just a meeting place for the cinema industry’s most prominent members, the 400 Club. However, due to the Great Depression as well as the impending Second World War, its reputation was short-lived. When the economy collapsed at the end of the 1920s, the brothers were compelled to offer it up to public, offering locals tours to pay the bills. Following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack, Americans across the country changed their minds about the Japanese-cultured base, resulting in the birth of an anti-Japanese movement.
Many people thought the Yamashiro was indeed a Japanese signal tower there at time and damaged it as a consequence. It camouflaged itself as a boys’ military school and subsequently an apartment complex towards the conclusion of the war to protect its surviving native design from further threats.
Thomas O. Glover, a landlord, purchased the building in 1948 well with purpose of renovating it into a hotel and updated flats.
However, after seeing the Yamashiro’s exquisitely carved wood and silk wallpaper, he changed his mind and decided to restore it to its former state. From that, he as well as his son, Thomas Y. Glover, started the Yamashiro Restaurant, using the estate’s spare rooms to accommodate up to 500 people. The restaurant, which also has a Pagoda Bar as well as a seasonal Farmers Market, aims to maintain Japanese culture and heritage via its meals as well as the Los Angeles cityscape.