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Old Posted Jul 2, 2013, 8:20 PM
Oviatt Building Fan Oviatt Building Fan is offline
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My Sunday slideshow lecture on Sunset and Crescent Heights's "mystery building" is now a thing of the past, so I'll go ahead and share some of the discoveries here.

The building, a combination shopping/medical center, was designed in 1931 by Norstrom & Anderson (architects Alvan Edward Norstrom and Milton Lawrence Anderson) for developers C.H. Thomsen and W.L. Easley. It would prove to be the grandest commission of the architects' careers.

The year before, Norstrom & Anderson had also designed a building directly across the street, on Sunset Boulevard's north side ... and for the same developers. Fortunately, that building still exists, and is best known as the home of the Laugh Factory and Greenblatt's Delicatessen:

Huntington Library

The "mystery building" stretched westward along Sunset Boulevard's south side: from Laurel Avenue to the beginning of the southward curve down to Crescent Heights Boulevard. Here's a composite photo showing how it looked in 1932:

Huntington Library / Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photo Collection

Named the Sunset Medical Building, it soon became known as the Crescent Heights Shopping Center. The structure was luxurious: its entire front and side facades were paneled in dark tan Napoleon Grand Melange marble from Southern France, and trimmed in burgundy-colored Rosso Levanto marble from Italy. (At the time, only one other commercial structure in L.A. was so completely covered in marble: downtown's 1915 Merritt Building.) The mansard roof's ceramic tiles were glazed a dark green. All cornice trims, display window fittings and gutters were made of copper. The building's rooms were paneled and floored in mahogany; some rooms had terrazzo marble floors. Doctors' and dentists' offices were on the second level: a covered bridge walkway allowed patients to cross from one wing to another. The building's back court had a 30-space parking lot.

Colorized photo of the roof tiles and marble paneling:

"Built for the Ages"? Alas, no.


In 1955, the Belousoff Investment Co., which owned the building by then, decided to remodel --but not demolish-- it in the name of "modernization". Googie-style architects Armet & Davis were hired to do the redesign. The suspended glass box in the middle didn't end up being built.

Courtesy Sheldon Belousoff

The 1956 remodel included the complete removal of all marble panels, the mansard roof, the tower, and the covered bridge walkway. The building's east and west wings were reshaped into two pink stucco boxes. You can really see the changes below:



In 1987, when West Hollywood did its own historical survey of the area's notable architecture, the "mystery building" was completely passed over and didn't make it onto any list. Perhaps no one on the survey commission remembered what it had once looked like. The following year, the whole thing was finally demolished ... and today, Schwab's Pharmacy is the only part of it which people know about. But as you can see, I'm trying to change that.


Last edited by Oviatt Building Fan; Jul 2, 2013 at 9:11 PM.
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