AKA: Douglas Block, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA; Douglas Building Lofts, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses

Designers: Reid Brothers, Architects (firm); James William Reid (architect); Merritt Jonathan Reid (architect)

Dates: constructed 1897-1898

5 stories

257 South Spring Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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3rd Street and Spring Street

Building History

Midwestern lumberman Thomas D. Stimson (1828-1898), who had made the bulk of his fortune in Michigan, commissioned the San Francisco architectural firm of the Reid Brothers, Architects, to design this five-story office building. The Reid Brothers had gained fame in Southern CA for designing the remarkable Hotel del Coronado (1888) in Coronado, CA.

Building Notes

In 1909, the Standard Oil Company occupied offices in the Douglas Building. In 1921, the Douglas Oil Company Building was located at 3rd Street and Spring Street. In 1924, Carl Henry Boller, Architect, and A.J. Williams, Associate, moved into Office #341 in the Douglas Building.

Alteration

The Los Angeles City Council passed an Adaptive Re-Use Ordinance in 1999, that enabled commercially-zoned office properties to be converted to residential uses as apartments. This stimulated interest among investors such as former architect Thomas Gilmore, to transform unused office space into useful housing for people eager to live in an urban enrvironment.

This former office block became renovated into 50 residential units beginning in 2005, becoming known as the "Douglas Building Lofts." Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital Partners, and its American affiliate Downtown Properties Holdings, LLC, managed the restoration project. Downtown Properties Holdings worked with Shamrock's Genesis LA Real Estate Fund on the financing of the remodeling. (See Business Wire.com, "Historic Bradbury Building Sold," published 07/29/2003, accessed 05/23/2019.)

Condopedia.com said of the building's restoration: "The renovations were difficult and costly. They included problems such as a flooded basement, ventilation issues in the basement, and the removal of false ceilings and floor coverings from the 1950's and 60's. Rockefeller Partners Architects, however, were determined to maintain the historic integrity of the building and they went as far as to have workmen restore the original floor tiles, which had been discolored by glues from linoleum and carpet, by sitting on their knees and shaving off one-fortieth of an inch of the tiles with hand-held grinders. They also were lucky to find an original wooden door sealed in a modern Sheetrock wall. This allowed them to copy the original chrome mail slot and doorknob, and have them installed throughout the building. Despite difficulties, the renovations were completed only five months late with many of the original 1898 details restored." (See Condopedia.com, "Douglas Building," accessed 05/23/2019.)

Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument: 966

PCAD id: 11287