Architectural Gems - Commercial Buildings
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Broadway is fortunate to be the home of some of Los Angeles' most iconic early 20th century architecture, with many buildings that feature Beaux-Arts, Vaudeville, or Art deco style.
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Bradbury Building (304 S. Broadway)-
The Bradbury Building , the oldest commercial building in Downtown Los Angeles, was constructed in 1893 built by novice architect George Wyman. The building was commissioned by mining millionaire Lewis Bradbury who decided to construct the five-story building at Broadway & 3rd Street as a monument to himself, allowing his legacy to live on as the namesake of the building. The building's incredibly unique interior design was inspired by Edward Bellamy's 1887 book "Looking Backward," a novel that took place in a futuristic utopian society in the year 2000. Artistic interpretation from this early sci-fi work heeded the unique designs that make the Bradbury Building such an iconic landmark today with its 50-foot high interior atrium, beautiful carved wood, terracotta tiles, and intricate wrought-iron grillwork.
The Judson-Rives Building (424 S. Broadway)-The Judson-Rives Building is a 10-story reinforced concrete and brick structure designed by architect C.R. Aldrich and constructed in 1906. It features a granite and terra cotta façade. The building is named after its 1920’s era owner who installed the movie theater that once occupied the ground floor.
12-story reinforced concrete on steel frame structure by Curlett & Beelman with ornamental bands and a rounded corner, glazed cotta facade designed to look like cut stone. The 1926 building is perhaps most distinctive for the decorative black and gold iron grille above the street-level storefronts. The intricate accessory was long covered by stucco and swap meet signage.
It has since been restored. Inside the building’s Fifth Street entrance, which is below a distinctive overhang bearing a stenciled cutout of the property’s namesake developer, an ornate carved lobby ceiling has been carefully repainted.
Broadway Spring Arcade Building (540 S. Broadway)-
Originally known as the Mercantile Arcade, the building was designed by architects Kenneth MacDonald Jr. and Maurice C. Couchot, modeled after 19th century shopping arcades in Paris and London. The Spanish Renaissance Revival/Beaux-Arts structure spans a full block between Broadway and Spring Street, featuring a unique retail arcade/pedestrian paseo. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Broadway Theatre and Commercial Historic District.
According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, the building was constructed on the site of Mercantile Place, a small street that by 1924 had been lined with shops for more than 40 years. A competition was held to find a design suitable to replace Mercantile Place. The winning architects, who were awarded $60,000 for their plans, preserved the retail activity and ambience of the street through the design of a glass-roofed arcade, which offers retail and a pedestrian paseo/promenade. Hallmarks of the structure are its intricately detailed, looming, terra cotta entrance arches. Thin twisted and beaded columns shape the narrow, delicate arches, which traverse the monumental entranceway arches. The central stories above the arches are sheathed with terra cotta molded to imitate stone blocks and the uppermost stories feature Doric columns, hanging swags and a scalloped cornice.
The historic Broadway Spring Arcade will be the new location of the popular Downtown restaurant/bar Royal Clayton’s. Royal Clayton’s gained popularity with Downtown crowds as one of the first establishments offering food and drink in the burgeoning Arts District more than five years ago. Peterson-Gower is serving as project representative for the pub’s new location, which will be operated by Tony Gower and owned by Gower Pubs LLC. The pub was fashioned after a 15th century pub, with found artifacts adding to its distinct décor. A similar ambiance is planned for the Broadway Spring Arcade location, which Tony Gower feels is ideal due to its reminiscence of London’s Covent Garden.
The pub, which will employ approximately 35 people, will offer three meals a day as well as late night service and patio dining, beginning this fall. It will specialize in fish and chips, shepherds pie, bangers and mash, Sunday roast, and full English breakfast, as well as healthy California specialties. Plans include an expansive bottled and draught beer selection to complement the pub atmosphere.
Schaber's Cafeteria Building (618 S. Broadway)-
Schaber Cafeteria was designed by Charles Plummer in the late 1920's.
Schaber’s Cafeteria on Broadway was a popular Downtown L.A. attraction, were people came for meals before and after shows at one of Broadway's movie theaters. The building and restaurant opened in 1928.
The building was severely damaged in the 1992 riots.
Other Commercial Buildings Include:
Singer Building (806 S. Broadway)
Apparel Center Building (814 S. Broadway)
Eastern Columbia Building (849 S. Broadway
May Company (S.W. 8th & Broadway)