Though there is little obvious indication of it today, the two-story commercial building in the above photographs is one of the oldest structures along La Brea Avenue north of Wilshire Boulevard. Although details of its history are sparse, it appears to have been completed in 1925 for the minor real estate brokerage of Donahue and Handley, whose one-story branch office was located next door. In spite of its relatively modern age, the building’s original appearance was vaguely Victorian, ornamented by a small parapet and restrained brickwork. Sadly, much of the original facade has since been lost to rebuilt storefronts and windows, while the cornice has been covered with a layer of stucco.
The top photograph also offers a rare glimpse of La Brea Avenue in the final days of its sparse frontier state, soon to be overtaken by the central city’s western expansion. Even as the roadway remained unpaved between Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, by the mid-1920s, La Brea was commonly referred to by its boosters as “the new Western Avenue.” Although paving of the street’s central section began in 1926, it was not until mid-1927 that La Brea Avenue became the city’s westernmost north-south traffic artery.
Another view of the same building, with adjacent realty office [USC Digital Library]
1. “North-south artery near.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Nov. 1925. E7.
2. “Paved traffic artery opened” Los Angeles Times. 1 May 1927. E3.
3. “Survey shows progress in development of major highway system.” Los Angeles Times. 12 Aug. 1926. A12.
Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “Mr. Handley, 316-320 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 1925 – DW-1925-07-21-56~01.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15799coll170/id/4239/rec/18