950 S. Wilton Place

In December of 1916 it is announced that Andre H. Cuenod—a Swiss lumberman who came to Los Angeles in 1891—was putting up this nifty Colonial he’d designed himself. The two-story, seven-room $4000 frame residence would feature a concrete foundation, shingle roof, hardwood floors, hardwood and pine trim, and mantel. (The picture above from a January 1918 blurb in the Times about how he’d sold his place to M. S. Phillips for $9000. Tidy little profit.)

One hundred years and change later, she still stands proud, with her great gambrel roof and dentil-filled pedimented entryway. Even has all her original windows and giant chimney!

Sure the lawn has turned to brick and they’ve glassed in the side pergola, but that ain’t the end of the world
Not crazy about all the white paint, but that’s an easy fix. And no can lights! This could be a breathtaking room.
A shot of an upstairs bedroom. Jeeps, it’s as big as a football field. But God forbid we have genteel living and room to swing a cat in this lifetime; density Nazis won’t be happy till we’re all living in the same airless cubicles we work in. “But it’s micro-living! It’s good for the environment!” No it’s not, Obergruppenführer.

So where did I get interior shots? From the realty listing. But where one sees all this restoration potential—what’s the point in them? Who is buying this to live in it, especially when it is marketed as a teardown:

Dream Realty, La Crescenta

I don’t have to tell you, I suppose, where the story goes next. Coming soon, its five-story, twelve-unit replacement.

The House of Spirits

In February 1958, one Mr. Norman Leibow bought Carmen’s Garage (U. J. Gray, 1924) at 1314 Echo Park Avenue. Leibow tore off the front thirty feet facing Echo Park and rebuilt it, converting the whole works into the House of Spirits.

To advertise his new venture, Leibow called up Mueller Brothers Neon Company of 1229 West Sunset, and had this $1000 sign erected in March of 1958:

Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Two months later, to the tune of $1200, Leibow had Mueller Brothers construct this roof sign:

Mark Peacock via Flickr

Yes, it’s a quaint little cottage (hey, like the kind we used to have in Los Angeles!) with a wonky-donk chimney puffing out animated smoke. With a sunset behind, or maybe that’s a rising orange moon? It may be the greatest sign in Los Angeles, which would therefore make it the greatest sign in the world. (Why, of course there’s an image of it in my book.) Here is a time lapse of HOS on any given night. Any given night some nights ago, anyway.

Because the House of Spirits went up in flames one morning, in a rainstorm, about nine months ago. We were all waiting for her reopen because it appeared the fire was contained to the back and the neon was undamaged.

But, no. According to this fellow Mr. Leff, the newly-listed property is Tier 3 TOC (Transit Oriented Communities), which means, because it’s a half-mile from some bus stop, the developer can add two additional stories for up to twenty-two additional feet, increase density by 70%, reduce parking to half a spot per resident, decrease the setback 30%, and on and on. This thing is going to be three times as big as anything within miles. Of course the screeching schoolgirls for density have begun wetting themselves with glee and calling everyone the N-word, because what else is new.

You know what disqusted over at Curbed wants for you? The deleterious effects of high-density living seen in mental illness, children’s health, respiratory disease, heart attacks, cancer and human happiness.

That, and no cool neon signs.

And We’re Back!

We launched and were going gangbusters there for a little while, when all went dark…because the City of Los Angeles decided to halt all demolitions, making this blog obsolete!

(Well, maybe not. I just had to go do some dumb things and get them out of the way. Trust me, there’s plenty to talk about. )

So while I prepare today’s post, let me toss this out there: if you’re not familiar with Senate Bill 330, you might want to read this assessment by the LAC. Then, should you be so moved, sign the petition to Governor Newsom (I know, that guy) asking him not to support the bill unless it includes safeguards for historic preservation.

Then come back here later this afternoon for some pix of a 1917 Colonial in Country Club Park…*

*…which’ll have to wait till tomorrow. I got all worked up about House of Spirits.

Let’s Talk About Taix

More than just a shadow encroaching; that’s doom.

Taix Restaurant, at 1911 West Sunset, has not had her demo permit pulled.

Yet. But it will happen. As recently reported, Taix is not long for this world.

Curbed readers, being Curbed readers, reacted as Curbed readers generally do.

Curbed LA

Other people, however, reacted differently.


Full disclosure: I dig Taix the most. In fact, when installed as president of Burbank Shrine Club, I angled to have my installation held at Taix rather than in Burbank, because why wouldn’t I?

Dude, seriously, anyone who isn’t instantly charmed by its Norman-Tudor village vernacular has a dead soul. The most common negative epithet hurled by the Curbed Class is “well if preservationists like it so much why don’t they give it business?!” (a whole twelve disingenuous points below “well if you love it so much why don’t you buy it?”) and the answer is we do give it business, you sad, sad, little men.

Look at the fanciful way they merge interior/external space. This image taken from an excellent write-up of Taix in Ellen Bloom’s wonderful blog
Fun fact: see the second-story window in the gable? There’s no actual room up there—it’s not a real window. Yes! Just like Disneyland!
Image courtesy LATimes

Taix, of course, is a Los Angeles institution, and you can read about its history—and see images of its original home at 321 Commercial—here.

Folk get confounded when they try and figure out where the old Taix structure used to be; rightfully so. Commercial Street ran NW from Alameda; I’ve marked the approximate site of Taix where it stood from 1927-1962.

Less has been said of its post-relocation building. 1911 West Sunset began as a restaurant built for Mrs. Ona Spaulding, designed by architect Edgar E. Butler, and built in 1929; it is run by restaurateur Noah Botwin and is famously known as a hangout for the politicos and police bosses. Spaulding hires architect C. F. Plummer to add a cocktail lounge in the summer of 1938, and hires architect Henry Dean to give it an addition in 1947. It remains Botwins for over thirty years before becoming Rafael’s for all of one year, in 1961, before Mr. Taix’s purchase in 1962. There’s a permit in June of that year to stucco and wood trim the front, thus giving the place its French Provincial character. The west half of Taix to the left of the center gable, with the tall tower, is added in the summer of 1968, and is by Nielsen, Moffat & Wolverton.

Its original incarnation looked, presumably, like this:

From the Flickr feed of jericl

…magnificently illuminated by City Hall. One wonders if it did indeed have such impressive rooftop signage.

Here it is after its 1938 expansion to the east:

And how it appeared after the 1947 expansion to the west, doubling its size.

And its Late Moderne-meets-Klondike bones lurk beneath to this day:

Something else: when Taix moved in and put a gable and half timbering where it once said “Sierra Room,” he elected to retain and maintain the 1940s neon sign:

And so, you might want to spend some time at Taix before she goes away. Yes, I am aware that there will be a mini-Taix reconstructed within the new six-story, 170-unit development.

1111 Wilshire, a typical Holland Residential development, of similar size to that proposed for the Taix site. So now you know what to expect.

371 N. St. Andrews Update

Well, this is how we learn. R.I.P. Los Angeles is not an exact science, yet.

In my defense, the blog was in its infancy when I posted that 371 North St. Andrews Place was not long for this world; I had the Planning Dept info on that corner and I found no demolition permit on Zimas.

So after posting that this wonderful building is threatened, I was contacted in short order by a couple of good folk saying you knucklehead, this building is long gone! Well, they didn’t call me a knucklehead, but I felt like one. Here’s what they said:

From LC: This lovely building was demolished before the date you listed for the permit. I think it was pulled down last fall of winter. After the property was acquired by a developer, they got all the tenants out, then sort of boarded the place up. Naturally, the local homeless community took up residence immediately. They responded by boarding it up a little more securely. That last a few weeks. Eventually, it caught fire. Happily, no one was injured but the roof burned and the building had to be pulled down. We live on this block and construction on the new structures (there are two or three because the developer also acquired the house next door) has been well under way since spring. While your photos show many of the beautiful older buildings still standing in the immediate vicinity, there are in fact four other new construction projects within just a few feet of this one. All are the hideous, boxey eyesores that developers favor. There are now more new buildings than old on these two blocks of Elmwood and Oakwood. It’s depressing.

From allison schallert: this was torn down over a year and a half ago. the young and old people were evicted without payment, and the only good thing is the construction crew, or the owners are letting some unhoused invididuals live in a small corner. I live on the 500 block of North St Andrews Place

So here’s something else I found out. A Bing maps aerial is a lot more current than a Google street-map.

Lookit that. A big lot full of dirt. The first thing that caught my eye was the large white building to the south. Didn’t my ninety-two intersection images prove that there were no VeryTall buildings in the vicinity?

The one on the right, a ten-room, two-unit, designed by A. J. Badger and built in 1920. On the left, a bungalow from 1913. It’s nice to know Los Angeles can be so cavalier about tearing down its bungalows. And this one is on record as being designed by female architect Anna K. Hallock. Well, was. Protip: invest in landfills.

So while we’re on the subject of the immediate neighborhood (as LC states, there are “hideous boxy eyesores” scattered about the immediate landscape) I pulled up a bit and said what the hell is that?

So recently lost are 4847 (51) , 4843 (52) , 4837 (53), and 4833 (54) Oakwood, for whatever that big grey thing is. Because unless I do it, no-one else will and they will be lost forever, let’s look at them.

4847 Oakwood. Look at that amazing, healthy tree. They ripped it out, because they could. Imagine you lived across the street for fifty years and that tree was already old when you moved in.

Look, I’m not an eco guy, I’m a building guy. But aren’t the folks who, really, really like trees upset that developers are ripping up and destroying all the trees in Los Angeles? Shouldn’t the knowledge of that be, you know, a thing? Hey tree people you’re losing your canopy.
Oh, and 4847 Oakwood was apparently built before 1905, because no building records exist of it.

Oooo look honey, curb appeal! Hey you sonsabitches, here’s a protip, don’t paint everything white and put in vinyl windows and CUT OFF YOUR RAFTER TAILS! But I guess it doesn’t matter when Dan Zaharias of Oakwood Development comes to town and destroys it a couple years later anyway.

Above: 4833 Oakwood was one of Los Angeles’ earlier bungalows as its construction records predate 1905. Good work there, LA! But in the name of all that is holy don’t tell me you’ve left some! Are you bereft of your duties? Don’t you have flamethrowers or something?

And here is a summerhouse built by Leonard Jones, designed by A. M. Brown, in 1923.

Ooop! Despite the fact that there are more buildings that died, that need to be remembered, I have to go right now, so if you will, excuse me.