Ormsby House Renovation Photos – June, 2003

June is shaping up to be another big month. With the sky bridge from the parking garage finished, they were able to reopen Curry Street. They also painted and prettied up the first floor of the parking garage, in readiness for the grand opening of the Winchester Club. And then, on June 12th, they put up the banners announcing that the Winchester Club casino was open for business. This means that the owners are finally able to start taking in some revenue after three years of caretaking for a dead building. Hopefully this also means that the workforce will now turn their hammers towards the Ormsby House in earnest. Let’s press on and see what they’re doing! And remember, click on any picture for a closer view.

The month started off with some very lonely concrete forms. The workmen seemed to take a couple of weeks off around Memorial Day. Forms were set up, and then the site was left lifeless. Interior work was continuing on the Winchester Club, but nothing was happening outdoors.

These forms were set up right along Carson Street, in front of the old front doors. This area isn’t going to be the main entrance anymore, but I’m not sure if these foundations are for an addition to the structure or just some decorative element.

And then, after the hiatus was over, the concrete trucks rolled onto the scene and started pumping out their mud.

The concrete set and the forms came off, and the shape of the building additions started to be more visible. This foundation is for the portecochere which will house the main entrance and the valet parking.

This is where the building is going to be expanded to the south, creating a new entry lobby.

In the back you can see where the building is going to come out to meet the sky bridge. For a long time I was wondering why the bridge ended so abruptly. Now I can see what’s really going on.

The inside of the building hasn’t changed in a couple of years. Gutted as usual. This area used to be the V&T coffee shop on the north end of the building.

This shot is looking from the west wall directly through to the main casino floor. That desk is sitting where the stage used to be when live bands would play here. Note the barbeque against the far wall. Lunch, anyone?

Another view onto the main casino floor. The elevator shafts are somewhere along the wall to the right. This corridor heads in from the west door, which used to be the route you would take when coming from the parking garage.

After a couple of months of detours and road closed signs, Curry Street was reopened to through traffic. Not that there is much traffic at seven in the morning.

A lone Subaru tools along underneath the new bridge.

The main entrance is right under the bridge. The parking garage has only been opened up to the second level, as you will see on the next page.

The bridge still stands there looking very lonely, waiting for a building to butt up to.

The Port-A-John basks in the warm sunlight and looks very impressed at all the progress.

The banners for the Winchester Club have been unfurled, and the disembodied hand of Lady Luck points the way.

This is the sign that is meant to be seen from Carson Street. It’s a little too small and a little too far away, but I’m sure it’s just a temporary setup. Right?

After the casino was open the workmen finally put the final(?) coat of white stucco on the wall. The barriers have come down on the garage entrance, beckoning to passing gamblers.

The garage floor has been resurfaced and painted. Gloss white may not have been the best choice, because after two days it is already scuffed up pretty badly.

I think this is what the parking garage for heaven would look like. Only without the stop sign. There are no stop signs in heaven.

The first floor is done. The second floor is not. The second floor looks like a burned-out warehouse in south central LA. Luckily, the second floor is closed off to traffic.

At the corner of the garage, untouched by the renovation, sits the elevator shaft in all its FakeRock™ glory.

The elevators are still out of order. I’m not sure if the FakeRock™ is going or staying. On the ground floor, in the lobby of the Winchester Club, they smashed the FakeRock™ and redid the wall in a nice marble tile. I wonder if the rest of the floors will get the same treatment?

Now that there garage is open, there is a new vantage point to watch the construction going on over at the Ormsby House. You can see the new foundations much better from a few feet up. I’ll let you look at a few of the pictures while you read my account of my first visit to the Winchester Club.

The place had a good crowd, maybe 20 or 30 people. I was walking around, and I noticed that it’s a no-coin casino. Meaning the machines don’t take or give coins, only bills. This means two things: 1)you can’t walk around with a pocketful of change, hopping from one machine to the next, like I like to do. 2)When you cash out, it doesn’t even give you a cashier’s ticket or anything. The light flashes, and an attendant has to come over to hand over your winnings (or the few dollars you were able to salvage – either way). When I decided to pop in for a couple of minutes, I knew neither of these things. And #2 I didn’t find out until – well, let’s say until it was too late.

It is a fact that luck can be passed down genetically within families. I know this because bad luck is one of the hereditary traits in my family. And while the bad luck gene is recessive in me, it still does assert itself every now and then. Once I got into the Winchester Club and found out that my pocketful of change would be no good, I looked in my wallet and found a single dollar bill. I dropped it into a nearby nickel machine and started to play poker. My gambling luck was unusually good, and I had quickly built my pot up to four dollars. That was good enough for me, so I hit the Cash Out button. “Call Attendant — Pay $4.00” started to flash on the screen, and “We’re In The Money” started to play in that annoying casino-synth rhythm. I looked around; there were no attendants to be seen. I looked on top of my machine; the light was most definitely not flashing. And there were a couple of seedy guys in the area, so I didn’t want to abandon my machine to go find someone. So I sat there to wait for an employee.

Of course I had picked the one corner of the casino that the employees seem to avoid. Nobody was coming to my aid. The perky jingle my machine was playing was attracting some attention, though. “Four hundred dollars!?” somebody asked. “No, four,” I said sheepishly. I still didn’t want to get up. The guy next to me in particular looked like he’d have no problem “holding” my seat for me. So I waited. Finally a waitress came by, and I asked her to get an attendant for me. She disappeared around a bank of slot machines and didn’t come back.

While I was sitting there I somehow found the magical combination of buttons that turned the music off. So now my machine was just sitting there mocking me. “I have your four dollars”, it said menacingly. “And there’s nothing you can do about it.” After a while, the same waitress came back around the corner, and looked right through me like she didn’t remember. “I still need an attendant,” I said. “Oh, OK,” she answered, and proceeded to take drink orders around me. The poker machine kept on mocking me.

Finally an attendant came over and looked at my machine. “Oh, I guess the light didn’t turn on,” he said. “I’ll go get the guy with the money.” He disappeared around the corner too, and I thought my one chance had gone. But a few seconds later the man with the cash showed up, and proceeded to count out four wrinkled dollar bills to me. I thanked him, and stuffed the bills deep in my pocket. They weren’t getting any of these back, not after what I went through to get them.

So, I guess it’s good to see that after three years, there’s finally gaming taking place on the grounds of the Ormsby House. But I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of gambling there. Not that I’m much of a gambler anyway.

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