Lost Parkinson Auto Showroom Discovered on Figueroa

Once you notice the roof-level details, 2100 Figueroa is hard to ignore. Now the headquarters for an electrical manufacturing firm, the building was once a lavish showroom in the heart of Los Angeles’ Auto Row. Most of the buildings that comprised this district were demolished to make way for the Los Angeles Convention Center, Staples Center and the LA Live Complex. Thus, 2100 Figueroa is a rare survivor. It is also an overlooked and underappreciated survivor. The building doesn’t show up on the L.A. Planning Department’s recent survey of potentially historic buildings and so its significance has not been officially noted. This puts this neglected gem at risk of being demolished without review or public comment. The ground floor has been radically altered and the loss of integrity means that the building wouldn’t be eligible for historic designation. However, the importance of the architects and its link to the city’s auto history should be recognized.[1]

DSCF9968

Figure 1: 2100 South Figueroa, currently the headquarters of Orbit Industries. The building was designed in 1926 for Jack Maddox’ Lincoln dealership. While the ground floor windows have been sealed, much of the original detail survives above. Photo by author, 2017.

Designed in 1926 by John and Donald Parkinson for Jack Maddox’s Lincoln dealership, the building’s opening was highly anticipated. Writers for the LA Times described it as the “biggest and best exclusive Lincoln home in America.” Reporters gushed about the showroom’s amenities which included a luxurious lobby with “retiring rooms” for guests, bellboys for errands and a luggage check room. Behind the scenes, staff were treated to a plush employee lounge with books, magazines and easy chairs. Much was also made of the soft water pipes that ensured a sparkling finish for any car washed by the dealer.[2] The building’s exterior decoration was an “artistic but subdued” interpretation of the Spanish Renaissance style. The interior was, “of a class suited to the display of this most aristocratic of American motor cars.”[3]

dscf9971.jpg

Figure 2: The building occupies a full block of Figueroa between 21st and 22nd Street. John and Donald Parkinson decorated the all-concrete building with Spanish Renaissance details. Photo by author, 2017.

During the first decades of the 20th century, John and Donald Parkinson designed some of LA’s most impressive and treasured buildings, including Union Station, the Bullocks Wilshire Department Store and the Memorial Coliseum. They also collaborated with architects John C. Austin and A. C. Martin on the Los Angeles City Hall. Besides these large civic commissions, the pair designed hundreds of buildings for everyday LA – banks, hotels, schools and shops. As Stephen Gee notes, the Parkinsons, and John in particular, “defined the look and feel of Los Angeles as a city looking to the future.”[4] Commissions from auto related businesses were an important part of the firm’s forward-looking vision.

LAPL 00019076

Figure 3: Photograph of 2100 Figueroa from the Security Pacific National Bank Collection at the Los Angeles Public Library, circa 1935.

In addition to the Maddox dealership, the Parkinsons created an extravagant showroom for Earl C. Anthony at Hope and Olympic[5], as well as assembly plants and warehouses for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and Ford Motor Company. These were functional buildings, but the architects added details that made them stand out. As part of this legacy, 2100 Figueroa contributes to our understanding of the firm’s approach and sheds light on the city’s emerging autopia. The building definitely deserves more attention.

 

[1] I’ll be submitting this info to the Survey LA team at http://preservation.lacity.org/survey/contribute

[2] Elaborate Plant Planned by Maddux in New Building”, Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Dec 5, 1926; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times, pg. G9

[3] “Maddux Plans New Building on Auto Row”, Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); May 9, 1926; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times, pg. G3

[4] Stephen Gee, “Iconic Vision: John Parkinson Architect of Los Angeles” Angel City Press, 2013

[5] http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?p=5937586

Join the conversation. Comments, especially corrections, additions and questions are welcomed.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Bastard Urbanism

Somewhat contrarian takes on urbanism, city planning, and transportation.

The Office Blend

ALL THINGS WORK LIFE

visual/method/culture

by Gillian Rose

HistoryProfessor.Org

Zachary Schrag's Guidelines for History Students

Nursing Clio

The Personal is Historical

Eric Brightwell

Exploration, Adventures, and Maps

Longreads

The best longform stories on the web

Los Angeles Revisited

Avenue: 1. a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees spaced at regular intervals along its sides, 2. a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something.

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Tropics of Meta

historiography for the masses

LAST ONE ON THE BUS

. . . RETRO & REGIONAL HISTORY OF L.A. & THE WEST COAST

L.A. Creek Freak

towards healthy Southern California streams, creeks, rivers and neighborhoods

Remaking Los Angeles

An insider look at researching and writing L.A.'s dynamic history

Boom California

Avenue: 1. a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees spaced at regular intervals along its sides, 2. a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something.

Delirious LA

work and writings in urbanism by Alan A Loomis

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection » Blog

Avenue: 1. a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees spaced at regular intervals along its sides, 2. a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something.

Historic Highland Park

Avenue: 1. a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees spaced at regular intervals along its sides, 2. a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something.

Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles

Avenue: 1. a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees spaced at regular intervals along its sides, 2. a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something.

Photo Friends LAPL Blog

Avenue: 1. a broad road in a town or city, typically having trees spaced at regular intervals along its sides, 2. a way of approaching a problem or making progress toward something.

%d bloggers like this: