Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Time machine opened for holiday shopping

Here's a page - literally - right out of history, from a cache of Westways I found at Circus of Books at Sunset Junction the other day.

Twin Christmas trees! Noontime concerts with fresh-faced choirboys! Long holiday hours! It must have been a blast. I'll have to ask my Abuela about it. But, it's as dead as a doornail now, like Jacob Marley and the landmark downtown Detroit Hudson's.

From the LA Conservancy website:

The 1925 building, designed in the Renaissance Revival style by Curlett and Beelman, was said to have been inspired by the Strozzi Palace in Florence. The symmetrically developed twelve-story structure is faced in terra cotta and brick, with a monumental three-story round arched center entry. Inside there is a forty-foot-high lobby court with beamed and vaulted ceilings.

Here's the building in an undated photo from the LA Public Library online photo archive. According to the caption, it was "built in 1925 and designed by Curlett and Beelman in the Renaissance Revival style. Streetcars and automobiles can be seen on 7th Street."

And here it is today, looking pretty good after an office renovation, in a photo from Lisa Newton's article on downtown architecture and history in Travelin' Local:


Bob Pool, the latest SPJ Distinguished Journalist, wrote in the Times in 1992:

For 111 years, the stores were symbols of decorum and good taste, places guaranteed to make a lasting impression on generations of wide-eyed children who tiptoed around, careful not to scratch the mahogany or crack the crystal. Yet 6-year-old Sarah Meyers and her brother, Bobby, 9, will have another reason for remembering how the end came Thursday to the venerable Barker Bros. furniture chain. They watched in amazement as customers battled over the last leather love-seat in the stripped-bare Barker Bros. store in Glendale.

A sad end.