Nathan Marsak


  1. nathan
    February 17, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

    Alert reader and downtown expert Bert Green saw the tiny 50s pic of the Stimson Block, above, and said, hey…

    So the entrance to the Stimson block looked something like this after it was built.


    And by the early 50s it looked more like this (a 49 or 50 Ford having replaced the streetcar):


    And everyone’s gone into hiding by the late 50s and the insallation of the Paraiso:


    …and that’s when Bert said waitaminnit, I’ve seen that signage (hey, he’s a downtown guy with a good eye) — and forwarded me an image of the Stimson’s neighbor:


    …and I had to kick myself for not making the association.

    Now, as long as we’re on the subject of the Stimson neighbor–you’d think that this isn’t the same building. Justifiably so, but you’d be wrong. According to City records, this is still the same 1905 building it’s always been:



    We are admittedly working with a very loose definition of same. Somewhere along the line the building was clad, which is typical enough, but also lost a story.



    Little known fact for our younger readers: did you know that many years ago, after the advent of electricity but before Google Maps, we actually had to drive to these places? (Back when LA was really dangerous, what with Quetzalocoatli battling invading Visigothi and everything.)

    Images, California State Library Picture Catalog


    • nathan
      February 19, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

      And yes, no, we’re not on Bunker Hill, not even on some far-flung part of Figueroa or Hill that one can argue as "Bunker Hill adjacent," rather, we’re just running with this whole Stimson Block thread, because, ya know, you just can’t own one without the other.

      Seems the corner on which the the Bryson Block stood (before the War Between the States, site of one of LA’s two public schools) was an empty lot for a dozen years. Here, in a photo dated June 25, 1934, the Bryson is surrounded by its demolition fencing:



      Workmen were wrecking the Bryson block, September 5, 1934, when J. J. Fisher, of Western Iron and Metal, peered into an old steel column being yanked for scrap. Inside, he found copies of the Times–complete issues dated November 26, 1897 and August 6, 1898. No mention of singing frogs.


      That it was demo’d for the Mirror bldng is one thing, but they didn’t break ground for another ten years and change. What was the demo rush?  ’33 quake damage? Had the Times intended to build earlier, but their coffers were otherwise occupied? Well, since it’s not on the Hill, I won’t go too crazy trying to find out.


      Above, that’s the Stimson, big chocolate-brown Block, center near the bottom. Over its shoulder, the square empty lot, from this 1940 model, is the spare space that existed between the 1934 demolition and Rowland H. Crawford’s ten-story 1948 Late Moderne masterpiece:




      • nathan
        February 28, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

        In this reply thread, while making mention of some character discovering goodies within the columns of the 1888 Bryson Block, I referenced singing frogs: I sleep soundly believing that every OBH’er immediately flashed on our particular shared frog and the cornerstone from which he was freed. (And this, in a post describing the SRC library cornerstone-stuffing.)

        First of all, I hope I don’t have to say, that cornerstones rule. (Masonry has a veritable fetish for them.)

        So let me say a little bit more about the frog reference—and the demolition of the J. C. Wilber Building. (Harris, Levitow, Washam & Thompson, 1892).

        The J. C. Wilber, of course, exists only in Warners’ 1955 “Merry Melody” One Froggy Evening cartoon (while it was written by Michael Maltese and directed by Chuck Jones, four gents named Harris, Levitow, Washam & Thompson were the animators, and thus the building’s architects).

        The picture begins with some wholesale rounded arch demolition. But this façade is too elegant to be termed Romanesque Revival; no monochromatic, course, rock-faced exterior for the Wilber.


        For all we know this had a mansard roof and a pedimented pavilion. Check out the rusticated quoins:


        Whatever it was, it’s gone now. It was 1955; there was stuff to be demolished. But this guy did pry open the cornerstone.


        And out pops a frog…


        …entombed since 1892 (though he sings Hello! Ma Baby which any schmoe can tell you wasn’t written until ’99), obviously based on cohort-of-Coolidge Ol’ Rip, and then stuff happens for about six minutes.

        After some trials, Mr. De-entomber, defiler of cornerstones, appropriately smote, tosses the green accursed thing into the cornerstone of the Tregoweth Brown building, a magnificent corporate skyscraper of sleek modernity, shimmering steel and glass among purple piles of brick:


        But in one hundred years, when the International Style has apparently gone all moss-colored and post-apocalyptic, and the built environment is replete with perispheres and skybridges and giant snack dishes, the Tregoweth must come down.


        Of course the frog is released from his modernistic mausoleum, and the whole thing begins again (though shouldn’t he be singing schmaltz from the time of his last encasement, e.g. Close the Door, They’re Coming in the Window?) and we assume the man of the future learns eternal lessons, etc.

        Point being, cornerstones are cool.


        • Castle dweller
          April 20, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

          Dear Nathan:

          Thank you for the information about this building. I used to walk past it on my trips to the LA Public Library when I was young and lived on Bunker Hill in the 1950’s. I wondered what this elegant building was like inside and what it housed.


  2. nathan
    February 19, 2009 @ 5:55 pm





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