“To Work Always to a Finer and Better Art of Architecture”: The 1922 Year Book of Architecture and Allied Arts, Part Two

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

Yesterday’s first part of this post looking at the 1922 Year Book of Architecture and Allied Arts, issued by the Southern California chapter of The American Institute of Architects and the Los Angeles Architectural Club focused on projects that were honored for excellence in ten sections, including single and multiple dwellings, commercial structures, semi-public and cultural edifices, schools, public buildings, and landscaping, among others.

Yet, the publication has many other images, photos and drawings, of notable work done by regional architects that this second part will focus on those. There is also a short portion concerning the organizations which published the book, said to be the first in the country paid for by architects.

With respect to The American Institute of Architects, or AIA, it was established in 1857 in New York and had its headquarters in The Octagon House, a 1799 national landmark in Washington, D.C. built by slave labor and which became the Institute’s home a century later. In 1973, the AIA moved to a new structure immediately adjacent and the Octagon House is now run by the Architects Foundation.

The purpose of the AIA was “to promote the aesthetic, scientific and practical efficiency of the profession” as well as have its members be of service to society. Chapters gathered for an annual convention and there was a board of nine regional directors with Edwin Bergstrom of Los Angeles being the one for California and the Southwest.

The Institute was concerned with education, funding, lectures, and a monthly journal, while also producing books on art as well as documents about the practice of architecture in addition to working closely with engineers and contractors. In 1922, the AIA counted some 3,000 members and was inaugurating a junior membership category for recent graduates of schools of architecture.

Concerning the Southern California Chapter, it was noted that it formed in 1894 with fourteen architects, with most still in practice including Abram M. Edelman, one of the few Jews in the organization, Sumner Hunt, Arthur Benton and Theodore A. Eisen, while among those who had died was Octavius Morgan, mentioned in the first post and who passed away in 1922.

The Los Angeles County Hall of Justice by Allied Architects Association of Los Angeles. The building is the oldest standing government building in the Civic Center area.

The summary observed that “these pioneer organizers had faith in Los Angeles and this faith led them to join together that the upbuilding of the profession of architecture might keep step with the growth of the community as they visualized it” while these practitioners soght to “moe carefully and surely build.”

It was added that the chapter struggled for some time and looked to establish “an ever higher ethical basis” with benefitting the community. With much adversity, it survived and “then it became an integral part of” the AIA and was the fifth largest group of architects in the country. As for its purpose, it remained focused on

the highest ethical conduct among its membership, especially in their relations to the public; to be ever diligent and faithful in the rendering of services, which shall be accurate and dependable at all times; to be ready and eager to give its abilities to the public service unstintedly and unreservedly, and finally to work always to a finer and better art of architecture.

The chapter worked with landscape architects, architectural registration boards, the Los Angeles Architectural Club and a technical society of architects and engineers. Officers for 1922 included Sumner Hunt as resident, Edelman as vice-president, and treasurer Alfred W. Rea (who, with partner Charles Garstang designed the Walter P. Temple Memorial Mausoleum at El Campo Santo Cemetery at the Homestead).

As noted, views of the Spanish court and wing at Riverside’s Mission Inn, designed by Myron Hunt.

Honorary members included Eisen, whose son Percy was an Institute Member and who, with partner Albert Walker, was working at the time with Temple on a several commercial building projects in Los Angeles, Alhambra, San Gabriel and El Monte as well as drawing up working plans for the construction of La Casa Nueva (commenced a century ago this summer), as well as Charles F. Lummis, who was not a trained architect but was a prominent figure in preserving historic structures like the California missions and hand-built most of his El Alisal house in the HIghland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles below his Southwest Museum.

Other Institute Members included the Allison brothers; John C. and W.H. Austin; Arthur B. Benton; Bergstrom; Roland Coate; Stiles O. Clements; Pierpont and Walter Davis; Edelman; Robert D. Farquhar; Elmer Grey; Harwood Hewitt; Hunt; Reginal D. Johnson; Gordon B. Kauffmann; Sylvanus Marston; A.C. Martin; Octavius W. Morgan, Jr.; Donald and John Parkinson; Rea; Alfred R. Rosenheim, another Jewish architect of note; Garrett Van Pelt; and David J. Witmer. Among the Associate Members were Edgar W. Maybury; Edwin W. Neff, Sumner Spaulding, and a young Paul R. Williams, the only Black member of the organization and who went to the top of his profession.

Edwin Bergstrom’s rendering of Sid Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre Building, which, however, was built as a six-story structure.

The Los Angeles Architectural Club was founded by draftsmen who sought social interaction as well as learning more about design and construction. Since 1906, it “followed the ups and downs of the practice of architecture in Los Angeles” and was inactive during the First World War “as its members assumed their share in the great struggle,”

Reactivated in 1920, the Club “has flourished and grown during that time until its present membership numbers nearly three hundred” and it “has taken a definite place in the architectural profession in this city.” The group had its offices on Santee Street south of 8th Street in today’s Fashion District, published a monthly brochure of news, exhibited architectural drawings, renderings and sketches and had an employment registry. It also supported the Atelier, a group of students worked in drafting and design.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, designed by John and Donald Parkinson, and opened in May 1923.

Among its members were David Allison; Bergstrom; Clements; the Davises; Julian E. Garnsey, who painted surviving murals in the Los Angeles Public Library, opened in 1926, and in Walter Temple’s Temple Theatre in Alhambra, which was long ago razed; Hewitt; Myron and Sumner Hunt; Johnson; Marston; Maybury; Donald Parkinson; Spaulding; Carlton M. Winslow; and Williams.

One of the more interesting concepts during this period was the formation of the Allied Architects Association of Los Angeles, a consortium that offered its services for public buildings as the Angel City, in the throes of another major development boom, had ambitious aims in this realm. Among its members were such prominent architects as David Allison, Edwin Bergstrom, Elmer Grey, Myron and Sumner Hunt, Reginald Johnson, Octavius Morgan, Jr., and Sumner Spaulding.

The tubercular hospital complex at the soldiers’ home, now the VA center, at Sawtelle (Westwood), Frank Hudson and William Munsell, architects.

The Association would go on to work on Patriotic Hall and the Los Angeles County Hospital, but an early project, a drawing of which is in the book, was the county’s Hall of Justice, a granite-faced Beaux Arts structure on Temple Street combining the jail and courts that is the oldest surviving government edifice in the city. The building, completed in 1925, was largely built as drawn here, though the main entrance has three archways instead of the one shown. Another of the Association’s works in the book is its drawing for the restoration of Mission San Fernando.

Los Angeles County also engaged in a monumental building program with the construction at Exposition Park of the Coliseum. The venue was dedicated to veterans of the First World War (in 1968, that was extended to those of all American wars) and John and Donald Parkinson’s design as largely built as envisioned with the stadium built for not too far under $1 million from December 1921 to the opening on 1 May 1923. There was a capacity of just over 75,000 persons, but, with the 1932 Olympics coming to the Angel City, capacity was increased to north of 101,000. Major renovations took place in the mid-1960s, 1993 and in 2018-2019 and it will be first venue to host three Olympic games when Los Angeles is the 2028 host.

A drawing of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral for alterations by John C. Austin.

Another rare example of a structure built in the hinterlands of greater Los Angeles was the library of Fullerton Union High School, the interior of which with its expansive arches with Greek capitals and soaring wood-coffered ceilings is shown. The work of Carleton M. Winslow, a master of the Spanish Colonial Revival style who was also the local architect, with Bertram Goodhue based in New York City, of the Los Angeles Central Public Library, the edifice was one of many that beautified the Orange County campus, including the auditorium, now under restoration and formerly known as the Plummer before the name was removed because of the school superintendent’s 1920s ties to the local Ku Klux Klan.

A second Orange County project in the book was the landscape plan for the city park in Anaheim, with the design made for the rendering shown here done by Wilbur Cook and George Hall. Now known as Pearson Park, the 19-acre facility was completed on Harbor Boulevard north of Lincoln Avenue in 1927 with many of the features, such as an impressive amphitheater, shown in this image, as well as a 1921 preliminary plan now in the Ralph Cornell papers at UCLA.

Reginald D. Johnson was the architect for the Pasadena house of Singer Sewing Machine president Arthur K. Bourne.

A third Orange County connection came with a photo of a garden, though the location was not named, designed by one of the few women in the field of landscape architecture, Florence Yoch (1890-1972). A native of Santa Ana, Yoch studied at the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell and the University of Illinois’s Champaign-Urbana campus and opened her practice in 1918. Among her best-known projects was the garden for the wife of Henry E. Huntington’s son Howard, the Wilshire Country Club, the Bixby family’s Rancho Los Alamitos in southeast Long Beach, and the set for the Tara plantation in 1939’s classic film, Gone With the Wind.

The Mission San Gabriel stone church, built in the early 19th century, and mentioned in the first part of this post because of the photo of the structure that was bestowed with a prize, is also represented in an architectural rendering by Donald Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Architectural Club. This historic building is also being restored because it was set fire to by an arsonist in July 2020. Another rendering is of Arthur B. Benton’s plan for the restoration of the Mission San Luis Obispo.

A rendering of Anaheim City (now Pearson) Park, designed by landscape architects Wilbur Cook and George Hall, and opened with alterations in 1927.

Another Catholic church of note featured in the book is St. Vincent’s Church, located at Figueroa Street and Adams Boulevard and paid for by oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny. The design of Albert C. Martin was, however, altered significantly from the rendering here before the structure was completed in 1925. The church, known officially at St. Vincent de Paul, was designated a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1971. Elsewhere, John C. Austin’s drawing of St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, being readied for alterations, is also shown.

A more modest public building than most shown in the book is William Lee Woollett’s city hall for Eagle Rock, the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood which was an independent city until 1923 and which best known for its namesake natural rock formation as well as for being the home of Occidental College. Completed in 1923, the edifice is also a city monument, earning that designation in 1969 and underwent a renovation eight years ago and then became a field office for former Council member José Huizar, now awaiting trial on a bribery charge.

A rare woman landscape architect was Florence Yoch, a native of Santa Ana, who designed this unidentified garden, perhaps that of the residence of Howard E. Huntington, son of Henry, the real estate and transportation tycoon and book, manuscript and art collector.

The aforementioned Benton was the architect for much of the famous Mission Inn hotel in downtown Riverside, but the two images in this book, located below his San Luis Obispo rendering, are for work done on what was then still known as the Glenwood Mission Inn (it opened as the Glenwood Inn in 1876) by Myron Hunt. Hunt designed the Spanish Patio and Wing, with the distinctive Anton clock, in the 1910s.

Another rendering of interest is that of Edwin Bergstrom for Sid Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre Building at the northeast corner of Hill and 6th streets across from Pershing Square, which is shown in front of the edifice. What was conceived and what actually built, however, here again is revealed, as Bergstrom’s drawing shows a six-story theater building surrounded on three sides by a twelve-story height-limit office structure that was not built. Instead, the more modest six stories were built throughout when the edifice was finished in January 1923, though it lasted not quite four decades and was razed in 1962.

Formerly at the northwest corner of Hope Street and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles was the Pacific Finance Building, designed by William Dodd and William Richards.

Nearby, at the northwest corner of Hope Street and Wilshire Boulevard, was the Pacific Finance Building, a height-limit commercial structure designed by William Dodd and William Richards. Completed in 1925, the building lasted under a half century and was torn down in 1971 to be later replaced by the United California Bank Building, a 62-story Modernist skyscraper, later known as the First Interstate [Bank] Tower, and which, in 1973 when finished, the tallest building in the world outside of New York City and Chicago. It is now the Aon Center.

Sumner Hunt and Silas Burns designed several projects for Thomas Bundy, the developer of Wilshire Boulevard’s “Miracle Mile,” including the well-known Wilshire Ebell Theater. The architects, also responsible for the design of the Southwest Museum, were brought in by Bundy for his new Los Angeles Tennis Club, and their drawing of the Mediterranean Revival building, finished in late 1923 with awards accruing to its designers and which still stands, is included here, as well. Another sports venue (albeit for the elite as with the tennis club) featured is the Wilshire Country Club, with its Spanish Colonial Revival design by Hunt and Burns.

John C. Austin, Abram M. Edelman and Gustave A. Lansburgh collaborated on the Al Malaikah Temple, better known as Shrine Auditorium, though the massive southwestern tower was abandoned when the edifice was completed in spring 1926.

A fairly modest residence in the book is the Pasadena house of Singer Sewing Machine president Arthur K. Bourne, designed by Reginald D. Johnson. As mentioned briefly in part one, Johnson was one of the architects Thomas W. Temple II suggested his father, Walter, hire to help complete La Casa Nueva. The Bourne house shown here, completed in 1920, still stands near the California Institute of Technology (which Thomas attended for the fall semester of 1922) but Bourne later built a much more imposing San Marino structure, designed by Wallace Neff.

Not at all modest, and there are many in the book, was the Grayhall mansion owned by Silsby M. Spalding, son-in-law of oil magnate Charles Canfield, a partner of Edward L. Doheny in bringing in the Los Angeles oil field in the 1890s. Spalding, who owned a large Santa Barbara County ranch, was an avid aviation supporter and enthusiast and was the first mayor of Beverly Hills later in the Twenties,, bought the 1909 hunting lodge and expanded and extensively remodeled it. The photo in the book is of an incredible ornate organ screen in his manse.

Silsby Spalding’s Grayhall mansion in Beverly Hills, with Hunt and Burns as architects and George W. Reynolds as interior decorator, featured this opulent organ screen.

A notable building reflected in a drawing is that of the Al Malaikah Temple, or what is best known as Shrine Auditorium, built by the fraternal order, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.), otherwise known as the Shriners. This being an early drawing with the trio of John C. Austin, theater architect Gustave A. Lansburgh and Abram M. Edelman (a Jew working on a building with Moorish Revival elements built by a group playing with Arab imagery) working on the design, it, too, was altered, mainly with the massive tower at the southwest corner abandoned. The auditorium, dedicated in April 1926, has been a famous venue for nearly a century and still stands on Jefferson Boulevard across from the University of Southern California.

There are four images of another long-iconic structure in the Angel City, the Ambassador Hotel, designed by Myron Hunt and Harold C. Chambers, with one a drawing by Robert Lockwood of the Los Angeles Architectural Club showing the structure during construction and three photos of the main building, but two others of the bungalows on the expansive grounds. The hotel, which was extensively renovated with designs by Paul Williams, closed in the late 1980s and was torn down in 2005-2006 with schools built by the Los Angeles Unified district there now.

Bungalows near the iconic Ambassador Hotel in Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, designed by Myron Hunt and Harold C. Chambers.

Beyond the Fullerton High School library, other educational buildings depicted in the work include the West Athens School near today’s Interstates 105 and 110, though the building is long gone and the lush landscape in the rendering of Archie C. Zimmerman only an affectation; Le Conte Junior High School in Hollywood, much of which looks to be intact today, with the drawing by Edgar H., Cline; and the Liberal Arts Building at Huntington Park High School.

This latter was designed by the firm of Charles Garstang and Alfred W. Rea, who made their mark in Joplin, Missouri before coming to Los Angeles. The duo were the architects of a building still standing in Whittier for Standard Oil Company (California), which may well be how they were hired by Walter P. Temple, whose fortune came from a lease by that company of his Montebello-area ranch, when he built his mausoleum at El Campo Santo Cemetery at the Homestead. The Huntington Park High campus, however, was badly damaged in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake and replaced by an Art Deco version much of which still stands.

It only lasted until the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, but the campus of Huntington Park High School was designed by Alfred W. Rea and Charles Garstang, architects of the Walter P. Temple Memorial Mausoleum at the Homestead’s El Campo Santo Cemetery.

There is more, including the tubercular hospital at what is now the Veterans Administration complex at Westwood (long known as the Soldiers’ Home) and a drawing for alterations to St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, but these examples show the diversity and range of the buildings from the yearbook and demonstrate how much greater Los Angeles architecture transformed by the early 1920s, as the region was at the peak (1923 was the biggest year) of yet another development boom.

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