Completed around 1925, the building at 550 South Western Avenue was designed as a dealership and service station for Hudson and Essex automobiles, at a time when car dealerships had yet to develop a unique architectural form. The property consisted of a two-story office and showroom facing Western Avenue, a one-story garage and service department behind it, and an adjacent parking lot. The building’s main facade was perhaps best described as an ornate blend of revival styles. Oddly enough, most of its defining details were above the ground floor, including its bulky balconets and tiled parapet.
In 1926, the building was acquired by the Greer-Robbins Company, then the region’s unique distributor for the nascent Chrysler corporation. The Western Avenue branch was the company’s first to serve the city’s growing west side, complementing its main office at Twelfth and Flower Streets and an existing branch by Exposition Park. Within its first year of business, the location’s financial success prompted further expansions for the Greer-Robbins Company; three additional branches had opened within the city by late 1927.
Much has changed since then for both the building and its original tenants. Greer-Robbins closed its doors in 1961 on its last remaining store in Beverly Hills, and the Western Avenue building has since been converted for office use. As shown in the contemporary photograph, nearly all of its exterior details have been destroyed, replaced by white stucco walls and two large blocks of opaque blue panels.
1. “Branches cover city.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Aug. 1927. H12.
2. Dredge, Bill. “Greer-Robbins to close doors.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Jul. 1961. D2.
3. “Greer-Robbins open another sales branch.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Jun. 1926. G6.
4. Walter M. Murphy Motors Company. Advertisement. Los Angeles Times. 14 May 1925. Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “552 South Western Avenue, Los angeles, CA, 1931 – DW-1931-04-10-57.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15799coll170/id/18493/rec/35