After a morning meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center, I decided to walk down Figueroa Avenue, south of downtown, to visit some buildings I had only talked about driving by on the tour bus. I wanted to see them up close and personal. It was a boiling hot day and at each block I wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back to the bus stop to catch the bus that would take me home to the cooling breezes of Culver City. But ever the intrepid adventurer, I forged ahead.
The first building on my list was the 1891 Stimson House, home to the lumber and banking millionaire, Thomas Douglas Stimson. From the beginning it has been a city landmark and the costliest home ever built at the time, to the tune of $150,000. Stimson hired the 27-year-old architect H. Carroll Brown to design his home in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, reminiscent of a castle or fortress with rough-hewn stone, arched windows and a turret.
As it was already past my lunchtime and my tummy was rumbling, I headed over to Popeye’s, the only eating establishment in my field of vision. I ordered the three-wing meal with red beans and rice and a biscuit. Oh my, compared to this Kentucky Fried Chicken is health food! But I gobbled it up. While sitting in the restaurant I noticed the MTA local 37 at the bus stop. It had the heading West LA Transit Center so I realized I did not have to walk all the way back to Venice Blvd. to catch the 733, I could take this bus and transfer to the Culver City Line 1.
Next I visited St. Vincent de Paul’s Catholic Church, designed by architect Albert C. Martin, Sr. and dedicated in 1925, it is the second oldest Catholic church in the city. It is also famous for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1999 film End of Days. The exterior is in the Spanish Churrigueresque Baroque style and inside you can imagine you are indeed deep in the heart of Spain with a magnificent gold leaf altar and beautiful stained glass windows.
I arrived just in time for the noon service. Although I am not religious, I always feel a profound sense of peace and comfort in any house of worship.
From there I moved on to the Automobile Club of Southern California building erected in 1921 in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. The architects were Hunt and Burns, and Roland E. Coate. Walking through the Figueroa entrance I was greeted by a century-old Moreton Bay fig tree. I was then surprised by the size of the complex. The immense courtyard is actually a parking lot (with another one behind it). An old-fashioned (I am guessing from the 1920s) AAA truck stands in a covered parking spot. An array of flags hang from the building in the rear but I have not been able to find any information on them.
Knowing I could catch the number 37 bus on Adams, I decided to walk further. I was delighted to find some Victorian houses including the Amat House. Then I walked through a gate into what I thought was a park to find myself on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s College Doheny Campus. This is the advantage of taking the bus and walking through neighborhoods versus driving everywhere. Mount St. Mary’s is a liberal arts Catholic college, primarily for women. The campus is comprised of two city blocks of Queen Anne-style Victorian mansions including the Doheny Mansion built in 1899 by the architects Theodore Eisen and Sumner Hunt.
At this point I was hot and tired so I found the next bus stop. I climbed on board the bus happy that I had yet another adventure to add to my list.
(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)