Aragon Ballroom
Santa Monica, California

(Originally known as the Bon Ton Ballroom)

Building was built: 1897
Destroyed by fire: 1912
Opened as the Bon Ton Ballroom: 1922
Destroyed by fire: January 7, 1924
Rebuilt as the Bon Ton Ballroom: 1924
Opened as the Aragon Ballroom: 1942
Opened as the Cheetah Club: 1967
Destroyed by fire: May 27, 1970

Built in the 1920s on Lick Pier in Pacific Ocean Park Amusement Park in Santa Monica, California.
Lawrence Welk and his orchestra performed there for ten years.
Swing movies were filmed there.
Pacific Ocean Park was an early version of Disneyland, with many rides and attractions.

On May 18, 1951, Klaus Landsberg created and directed what became the "Lawrence Welk Show", which was televised every Friday night at 9:00 P.M. from the Aragon Ballroom.

Source: Quote by mufeedah
"The once-elegant ballroom had grown seedy by the early 1950s, at which time it enjoyed a brief revival as the location of early Lawrence Welk show broadcasts. In the 1960s, the Aragon was again revamped under a different name as a short-lived rock concert venue - with appearances by Alice Cooper (is his pre-Cooper days) and Jim Morrison of the Doors. It was destroyed by fire shortly afterward."

Source: Wikipedia
The Aragon was best known as the hall where Lawrence Welk and his big band, the "Champagne Music Makers," parlayed a scheduled six-week engagement in the late 1940s into a ten-year stint and a legendary television show. Welk's orchestra played to crowds numbering as high as 7,000. Local station KTLA began broadcasting a weekly show live from the Aragon featuring Welk's big band. The show evolved into The Lawrence Welk Show, broadcast each Saturday night on ABC and later in syndication for more than three decades.
The opening date of the Venice Beach Aragon is unclear, and may be lost to the ages. The Welk show left the Aragon for a television studio in Hollywood in the mid-1950s, and the hall went into decline. It was demolished sometime in the 1960s.

L.A. Resort Is Razed By Fire; 4 Million Loss
Three Piers, Theaters and Auditorium Burn at Ocean Park
100,000 Watch Blaze
Six Departments Fail to Save Wharves; Two Men Rescued

Special by Leased Wire to The Chronicle
Ocean Park, Cal., Jan. 6 – Fire which is thought to have started in a small fish market on the ocean front walk completely destroyed the entire amusement zone here this morning, causing loss estimated at $3,900,000.
The major loss was sustained through the destruction of three pleasure piers – Pickering Million Dollar pier, recently purchased by the Venice Investment Company; Fraser Amusement pier and Lick’s Dome pier.
Flames spread rapidly before the thousands of pleasure-seekers who thronged the ocean front walk realized that the whole zone was threatened. From the small fish market flames quickly ignited the Giant Dipper, a new ride recently built at a cost of $100,000.
Almost immediately the three piers which are adjacent burst out in flames, fanned by a draft under the pilings upon which the whole zone was built.
Costly Amusement Places Are Destroyed
The Dome Theater, operated by the West Coast Theatres, incorporated, valued at $500,000; the Rosemary Theater, valued at $250,000; the entire Lick Pier, valued at $1,000,000; the Bon Ton Ballroom, constructed last year at a cost of $300,000 and the Fraser Pier, known as Fraser’s Amusement Pier, were razed.
In addition to the larger buildings, the many numerous concessions operated by private individuals and worth more than $750,000, were razed by the conflagration.
The large Municipal Auditorium building, constructed less than two years ago at a cost of $350,000, was partially destroyed; only the united efforts of fire department succeeded in saving a section of the building.
Large Buildings Said To Be Heavily Insured
The insurance covering the loss on the large buildings destroyed could not be obtained, but it is reported unofficially that they were heavily insured.
Two fire companies from Los Angeles were rushed to Ocean Park upon urgent request of the beach city’s officials. The apparatus arrived on the scene within an hour after the flames were discovered.
Chief Vollmer, upon being uniformed police officers and a dozen or more plain clothes men.
Although the exact cause of the fire is undetermined, it is unofficially reported that it was the result of an overheated stove.
Large buildings, which were saved only through the united efforts of volunteer workers, included the St. Regis, Ocean View Edmunds and other hotels and apartments scattered along the ocean front.
In 1912, the same region was swept by fire.
[Source: San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco,), dated January 7, 1924]

Dancers and feminine pulchritude isn’t lost on the KTLA (5) presentation of Ina Ray “Blonde Bombshell” Hutton and her all-girl band at 9 p.m. In addition to the lovely Ina Ray, there’ll be the girls in the band and the Marion Rankin Dancers. The show emanates from the Aragon Ballroom on Lick Pier in Ocean Park and Klaus Landsberg is the producer.
[Source: Long Beach Independent (Long Beach, California), dated July 28, 1950]

Welk To End Ten Years At Aragon
Santa Monica, Calif. (UPI) – Lawrence Welk’s orchestra ends a 10-year stint at the Aragon Ballroom May 27 and the second weekend in July begins playing its champagne music from the famed Hollywood Paladium. The move “downtown” was announced Friday.
“I wouldn’t have made the move myself,” said Welk. “I think of the Aragon as home, and I’ll hate to leave the folks here.” But, he said, “The Paladium will be a much more central location for the tremendous tourist trade we seem to attract.”
[Source: Eureka Humboldt Standard (Eureka, California), dated March 11, 1961]

Bubbly Aragon Now Rubble
The Aragon Ballroom, scene of marathon dancing in the 1930s and once filled with the sounds of the Benny Goodman and Lawrence Welk bands, was destroyed by fire early Wednesday.
The blaze, believed deliberately set, broke out under Lick Pier in Venice. Three-hundred feet of the pier, including the abandoned ballroom, collapsed onto the beach.
The pier was originally constructed in 1897 and survived three fires in the early part of the century. It was twice rebuilt.
The ballroom originally was known as the Bon Ton. It burned down in 1924, was rebuilt, and in 1940 became the Aragon.
Its most recent metamorphosis was The Cheetah, a discotheque which went bankrupt. The rotting structure had been condemned and was due to be demolished.
In addition to Goodman and Welk, orchestras led by the Dorsey Brothers, Stan Kenton, Harry James, Paul Whiteman, Ted Fio Rito and Western fiddler Spade Cooley played dates at the Aragon.
Battalion Fire Chief William B. Nash said the blaze definitely was started by arsonists. He said hippies lived under the pilings and sometimes built campfires.
[Source: The Independent (Long Beach, California), dated May 28, 1970]

Aragon Ballroom Burns
Firemen continue to pour water on a pier housing the famed Aragon Ballroom, once the home of Benny Goodman, Lawrence Welk and country and western singer Spade Cooley. The blaze started just after midnight yesterday. The fire, which broke out under Lick Pier in Venice, shot flames and cinders 200 feet into the air as the 73-year-old pier was destroyed. No estimate of damage was made as the former ballroom, most recently the Cheetah nightclub, was condemned and due to be demolished. The blaze was believed to be deliberately set and caused the ballroom to collapse onto the beach. In 1924 the ballroom, then known as the Bon Ton, was burned down. It was rebuilt and in 1940 became the Aragon. In addition to Goodman and Welk, orchestras led by the Dorsey brothers, Stan Kenton, Harry James, Paul Whiteman and Ted Fio Rito played at the Aragon. Fire Chief William B. Nash said the blaze was definitely started by arsonists. He said hippies lived under the pilings and sometimes built campfires.
[Source: The Argus (Fremont, California), dated May 28, 1970]

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