By Susan Motander
When Arcadia icon, the 100 to 1 Club, closed, it seemed another bit of Arcadia’s past would be lost. Enter Pete Siberell, the Director of Community Service and Special Projects at Santa Anita Race Track. He purchased the iconic neon sign that had signaled the way across the street from the track to the club. He then had the sign restored and it now the centerpiece of the new 100 to 1 Club at Santa Anita.
Like the sign, the space itself has been refurbished in a manner the architect who has reworked many areas of the track, Pavel Gertov, calls “historic repurposing.” It is clear that the area now better suits modern uses. The club is open and multi-leveled. Gertov replaced the solid half wall at the front of the club with glass so that there is now an unobstructed view of both the track and the San Gabriel Mountains.
However, in keeping with the historic nature of Santa Anita, Gertov even opened up the ceiling in one area to reveal the underside of the metal roof. This signature element of the track, the green sweeping roof, can now be seen from below. Gertov calls these the bones of the building.
The new look seems to be appreciated by those attending the opening day for the newest element at Santa Anita. Among those who gathered to celebrate the return of the 100 to 1 sign were Brian Carney, the last owner of the old club and Barbara Skinner, the woman who managed that club for its last 20 years. They were pleased with the tribute the track was paying to the place they had loved.
“I’m sorry we had to let the old place go,” Carney said, “but it is not completely gone.”
Skinner, too, praised the new location as she was greeted by people, who jokingly calling out bar orders to her. She had often worked as one of the old clubs bartenders. Several demanded to know if she planned to work at the new club. Her joking response was: “Sure, if they will have me.”
Overheard comments were enlightening: “At least here, you don’t stick to the floor (a reference to the old carpet at the old 100 to 1 Club). The air here smells a lot better, as the club predated the California smoking ban and the walls and fabrics still retain the tell-tale odor of ancient smoke.
One element remains the same, the interaction of people in the area. As Carney said of the old club, “The richest and poorest people in the world would sit side by side and sing karaoke.” That same interaction of people is evident here as well.
This is by design, as Gertov explained, “Modern needs are different. The high-tech elements are needed,” evident here in the screens that dot the walls shows not just to show what is happening at Santa Anita, but at other tracks as well, “but need for social interaction is also required.” In this space he raised some portions of the club to create a terraced feel with spaces for conversation as well as viewing the races going on below.