The top photograph, a Kodachrome slide by Palmer Conner, shows the Hershey Arms Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard shortly before its demolition. Built between 1906 and 1907, the Hershey Arms was the first hotel to open along the nascent boulevard, and remained for several decades one of its best-known landmarks. Located two blocks west of Westlake Park, the establishment featured a distinctly suburban form, seen in its expansive footprint and prominent front lawn. Designed in Jacobean Revival style by John C. Austin and Frederick G. Brown, the hotel building was divided into three main volumes arranged in an irregular E-shape.
The Hershey Arms Hotel eventually fell victim to the eastern expansion of the Wilshire Center office district. After remaining in operation until 1956, the property was purchased by commercial real estate developer Dwyer-Curlett & Co. The hotel was demolished in the following year, and was soon replaced by an office building for the Cincinatti-based Western and Southern Life Insurance Company.
Curiously enough, the Hershey Arms’ replacement was designed by Austin, Field, & Fry, whose senior partner was none other than John C. Austin. Like many of the firm’s other works, the five-story building makes use of the imposing volumes of late Streamline Moderne, complemented by austere yet sumptuous finishes. It notably makes extensive use of dark red hues, seen on the Wilshire Boulevard facade’s porcelain enamel panels, and the polished granite that clads its east and west walls.
1. Cohan, Charles C. “Investment flow to L.A. continues.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Jul. 1958. F1.
2. “Hershey Arms changes hands.” Los Angeles Times. 20 Jul 1913. V1.
3. “Houses, lots and lands.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Oct. 1906. V1.
4. “Noted Wilshire Blvd. landmark purchased.” Los Angeles Times. 15 Jan. 1956. E4.
5. “Office building to rise on site of noted hotel.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Jul. 1957. F12.
Original photo: Conner, Palmer. “Hershey Arms Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard – photCL 486 (014).” Palmer Conner Collection of Color Slides of Los Angeles. Huntington Digital Library. Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15150coll2/id/6194