WEST HOLLYWOOD — The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives — the largest repository of its kind on the West Coast — will re-open Sunday with guided tours and an exhibit that celebrates a renowned Westwood-based women’s bookstore.
The archives, which preserve lesbian and feminist history and culture, is inside the Werle Building on Robertson Boulevard, which has been renovated with a American Disabilities Act improvements, an elevator, and a meeting space dedicated to community programming and events specific to West Hollywood’ lesbian community.
“By creating a safe place for women to explore the richness of lesbian history, perhaps adding to it themselves, we are paving the way for future generations to understand more fully their own identity and history and help maintain this vital link to their own past,” according to a statement about the Mazer Lesbian Archives’ re-opening, which will take place from 2 to 5 p.m.
Starting next week, the space will be open Tuesdays from 11 a.m to 2 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m to 3 p.m., and by appointment.
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The archives are home to thousands of items: personal papers, group records, scrapbooks, flyers, posters, artwork, photographs, newspapers, magazines, records, videotapes, manuscripts, books, among other memorabilia.
“The Simone Wallace Collection of Sisterhood Bookstore” exhibit will spotlight the independent shop, which, after a 27-year history, shuttered in 1999.
The Sisterhood Bookstore also doubled as a community center, where women and men gathered to exchange information and move the community toward political action.
The exhibit will feature items from the store and its cofounder, Simone Wallace, who will be speaking Sunday at the re-opening.
MAZER ARCHIVES HISTORY
The archives was founded in 1981 in Oakland as the “West Coast Lesbian Collections.” Four years later, it moved to Southern California and into the home of June Mazer and her partner, Bunny MacCulloch in Altadena.
When Mazer died from cancer in 1987, MacCulloch changed the name to the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives and continued to run it with volunteers.
In 1989, the archive relocated to the Werle Building, which as its own colorful history.
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WERLE BUILDING HISTORY
The 7,533-square-foot, two-story office building was built in 1940 in the Streamline Moderne style. The City of West Hollywood purchased the Werle Building in 1987.
In 2003, the city entered into agreements with various nonprofit organizations to use the property on a temporary basis, but in 2011, those tenant arrangements became long-term. The city also agreed to make necessary property improvements.
The Werle Building also is home to other organizations:
- The West Hollywood Recovery Center, which serves more than 6,000 visitors monthly and provides a meeting place for 12-step groups and assistance with addiction recovery, prevention, and education
- The ONE Archives Gallery & Museum, which is part of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
The Werle Building is named for Daniel Werle, a fashion designer whose “Werle Originals” graced film and television actresses such as Loretta Young, Gloria Swanson, Barbara Stanwyck, and Marlo Thomas.
Werle’s ready-to-wear creations were sold nationally in such stores as Saks Fifth Avenue and I. Magnin.
Werle died in May 1985.