AKA: Saint Vincent Jewelry Center, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA; St. Vincent Jewelry Center, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - department stores

Designers: Parkinson and Bergstrom, Architects (firm); George Edwin Bergstrom (architect); John Parkinson (architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907

10 stories, total floor area: 806,000 sq. ft.

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639 South Broadway
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90014

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The Bullock's Department Store would come to occupy 639-657 South Broadway.

Overview

With the financial backing of his mentor, Arthur Letts (1861-1923), department store mogul John G. Bullock (b. 01/14/1871 in Paris,ON- d. 09/15/1933 in Los Angeles, CA) opened his grand Bullock's Department Store at 639-657 South Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles in 03/1907. The store was designed by the new architectural partnership of Parkinson and Bergstrom, that formed in 1905. During its first four decades of operation, it grew into a behemoth, swallowing up nearby buildings, more than doubling its original size.

Building History

Operated by John G. Bullock, this legendary store operated from 1907-1983; this main flagship store opened on 03/04/1907, and achieved rapid success. By the 1950s, 12 Bullocks stores had opened: Downtown, Wilshire, Pasadena, Palm Springs, Palos Verdes, Newport Beach, Woodland Hills, La Jolla, Palm Desert and three others.

A New York Times article of 1981 reported how the sales of Downtown Los Angeles's four main department stores--Bullock's, Broadway, Robinson's and the May Company--were relatively slow during the crucial Christmas time shopping season. It stated: "...Performance generally is lagging behind the suburban stores." (See Isadore Barmash, New York Times.com, "A Big Retail Gap in Los Angeles," published 12/16/1981, accessed 05/17/2017.) Two years later, the store was shuttered. In 11/1981, Bullock's consisted of a chain of 24 stores throughout California, owned by parent Federated Department Stores.

The former Bullock's Department Store was renovated to house the Saint Vincent Jewelry Center which opened in 1983. In 2009, approximately 500 jewelry merchants occupied the former Bullock's Department Store in Downtown Los Angeles, CA.

In the 2000s, the remnants jobber Big Lots occupied 40,000 square feet of space in the Bullock's Broadway store in the basement and on the first floor. This space was taken over by a Burlington Coat Factory store in 11/2015. (See Deborah Belgum, California Apparel News.com, "Burlington Opens in Downtown LA," published 11/03/2015, accessed 05/17/2017.)

Alteration

The Huntington Library discussed the extensive additions this Bullock's Store underwent over the years: "Bullock's flagship store proved so successful that it expanded quarters in 1912. The company purchased adjacent buildings in 1917 and 1919 for a total of 460,000 square feet. 'By 1920,' writes Richard Longstreth, 'Bullock's and Robinson's functioned as anchors to an elite shopping precinct that was unprecedented in Los Angeles.' Between 1923 and 1928, Bullock's added an additional 400,000 square feet through the construction of three more additions while also purchasing two adjacent buildings. (See Huntington Library, Online Archive of California, "Bullock's Department Store Collection of Photographs: Finding Aid," accessed 05/17/2017.) In 1934, Bullocks's opened its Store for Men on Hill Street, its last large-scale enlargement of space. It constructed a bridge over Saint Vincent's Court, an alleyway that separated the Hill Street addition with the main South Broadway facility.

Late in its existence, the Hill Street Store for Men contained men’s sportswear and acccessories, the camera shop, luggage and sporting goods departments, the Boots and Saddle Shop, and Bullock’s Soup Bar.

The store grew from a 350,000-square-foot facility to one containing 806,000 at its end.

PCAD id: 9453