Buzz readers are invited to check out another excellent local example of Streamline Moderne architecture from the 1930s recommended by local architecture guide Eric Evavold, who also provided the photos.
“I call this the “ship of Plymouth,” said Evavold, referring to the building’s details characteristic of the Streamline Moderne style of architecture intended to evoke modernity and movement with architectural details like windows shaped like portholes, curved balconies with metal railings and modern metal windows. Evavold told the Buzz he loves pointing out these local treasures that we are able to see everyday all around us.
Built in 1936, 844-846 South Plymouth Blvd., located in Windsor Village, between Wilshire Blvd. and Olympic Blvd., is a four-unit apartment building featuring large two and three bedroom units. According to one real estate website, the 7,666 square foot multi-family home was built on a 8,970 square foot lot with 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. The multi-family building was an early commission of the architectural firm Plummer, Wurdeman and Beckett according to the building permit.
The firm’s architects Charles Plummer, Welton Beckett and Walter Wurdeman would become quite famous for their other projects around the city.
When the building was designated a Historic Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles in 2010, the following biography of the firm was included in the Planning Department’s staff report:
The firm’s first commission was the iconic Streamline Moderne style Pan Pacific Auditorium (HCM #183; 1935/destroyed by fire in 1989). Following Plummer’s death in 1939 and during World War II, Wurdeman and Becket went on to successfully design government housing units for military families and war workers. In addition, Wurdeman and Becket’s best-known buildings from the 1940s include Bullock’s Department Store in Pasadena as well as the General Petroleum Building and Prudential Insurance Building, both in Los Angeles. The subject building dates from this period of their architectural work. After Wurdeman’s death in 1949, Becket continued his practice as Welton Becket & Associates. By the 1960s, the firm was one of the largest architecture firms in the world and played a significant part in defining the built environment of postwar Los Angeles, designing landmark buildings including the Capitol Records Tower (HCM 857; 1956), the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (HCM #570; 1961), and Pacific’s Cinerama Dome Theatre and Marquee (HCM 659; 1963).
Locally, we have the Larchmont Medical Building, designed by Beckett in 1964.
Evavold suggested the building was intended as a luxury building with larger units, quite different for the more common one bedroom and efficiency units being built at the time. The driveway with the underground garage is also unique, allowing tenants to drive right into the building.
“All this points to a building that was designed to be more than just a box,” added Evavold.
He’s quite right about that. According to the HCM application research, when it was completed, building owner Charles Baum place this advertisement in the Los Angeles Times: “Finest in California. New eight room apartment. $150. Three bedrooms library, two balconies, cooling system. 844 South Plymouth.”
844-846 S. Plymouth is located on a lovely street in historic Windsor Village surrounded by several other historic neighborhoods preserved by the City’s HPOZ ordinance.
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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584 1/2 N. Larchmont Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90004