Though hardly anyone would recognize it today as one of Wilshire Boulevard’s lost landmarks, the former manufacturing showroom at the northwest corner with New Hampshire Avenue boasted a rather impressive pedigree. Upon its completion in 1929, the Art Deco building stood out prominently among the district’s few commercial structures, largely built in French and Spanish Revival styles. Although comparable in height, the showroom had a commanding yet elegant presence thanks to its tall, expansive bays complimented by thick fluted piers. In 1930, its architects, John and Donald Parkinson, were honored for the quality of their design by the Southern California chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
As one may have figured out, however, the showroom was quickly overshadowed in the year of its opening by a more majestic sibling designed by the same architects, Bullock’s Wilshire. Geographically separated by only three blocks, the two buildings were largely conceived during the same period, and show striking similarities in their designs. Similarly clad in cut terra cotta, both structures featured tapered, fluted piers and a decorative chevron motif. The two-story showroom, in fact, bears a significant resemblance to an initial design for Bullock’s published in 1928.
Although it was occupied by several tenants in the interior furnishing business, most of the showroom’s 39,000 square feet were initially leased to the Chesterfield Furniture Company of New York, whose name is emblazoned on both facades in the top photograph. It appears, however, that the building was never publicly known by any name other than its street address, 3257 Wilshire Boulevard.
Though it remained in use for four decades, the building was eventually converted primarily into office space. During the late 1960s, the former showroom housed the city’s headquarters for two successful and historic Republican campaigns, hosting Ronald Reagan’s 1966 run for Governor of California and Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign of 1968. The building quietly met its end shortly thereafter; an 18-story office tower designed by Maxwell Starkman & Associates has stood in its place since 1973.
Bullock’s Wilshire Building [Big Orange Landmarks]
1. “Architectural awards given.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Mar. 1930. A12.
2. Elliot, James W. “New buildings planned here.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Jan. 1929. E1.
3. “K B’s new high rise trio.” Los Angeles Times. 4 Feb 1973. L24.
4. “Nixon HQ will open here Monday.” Los Angeles Times. 30 Jun. 1968. B7.
Bullock’s rendering: “Greater service aim exemplified in buildings.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Apr. 1928. A2.
Original photograph: Dick Whittington Studio. “Street scenes, forestry division – City of Los Angeles, Southern California, 1931 – DW-1931-15-21-137~14.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15799coll170/id/17739/rec/135.