AKA: Henne Block, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores

Designers: Brown, Carroll H., Architect (firm); Clement, H., Stone Contractor (firm); Kubach, C.F., Building Contractor (firm); Carroll Herkimer Brown (architect); H. Clement (building contractor); C. F. Kubach (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1896-1897

5 stories

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122 West 3rd Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90013

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The Henne Building contained the address numbers of at least 106-122 West 3rd Street in 1897.


This five-story block occupied land that had belonged to the Henne Family since the 1870s. At that time, it was a posh residential neighborhood, where the family residence stood. Built in 1896-1897, the building housed professionals of all kinds during the early years of the 20th century, including a good number of law firms, such as Burks and Voorhees (c.1901) or Works and Lee, who occupied offices #420-425 c. 1898.

Building History

In 01/01/1897, the Los Angeles Times reported that architect Carroll H. Brown (1861-1920) was preparing plans for the Henne Building in Los Angeles, CA. This article described the new building, one of the few erected during late 1896 in Los Angeles, during a significant economic downturn. It said: "The ground dimensions of the building are thirty-seven feet frontage on Spring Street, with an eighty-foot frontage on Third street, with a a depth from the Spring-street side of a hundred and seventy-two feet. The building stands five stories in height above the finished basement and is supported upon a skeleton steel frame of the Chicago method. In general terms the building may be described as a modification of the late period of the French renaissance. Every precaution is taken throughout the interior to make the structure as nearly fire proof as possible. The walls are covered with steel lath and steam heat employed. The stair routes are constructed of iron and marble while the elevator ways and cages are finished in black metal. All exterior glass in the building is polished French plate. The finish employed throughout the entire building is natural oak of a pattern conformed to the architectural outline. A light well of spacious proportions extends from the roof to the floor, near the rear of the Third street front, a means employed for illuminating all offices on the upper floors. Two high-speed electric elevators will be installed in the building, while the lighting system will also be electric. All offices will be supplied with cabinet lavoratories finished in marbel [sic] and nickel plate, with clothes closets attached." (See "The Henne Building," Los Angeles Times, 01/01/1897, p. 38.)

A biography of Christian Henne, Jr., (1874-1906), in the Press Reference Library, indicated that "His father was a pioneer business man of Los Angeles in the early stages of its development and the owner of a considerable amount of real estate in what is now the heart of the business district of that city. Mr. Henne was born on property that has since become the site of the Citizens' National Bank Building, at the corner of Third and Main streets, Los Angeles, the very center of commercial activity at this time [1913]. In the days when Mr. Henne was a boy, however, that neighborhood was the aristocratic residence district of Los Angeles. In those days there lived along what is now the business part of Main street such old Los Angeles families as the Hellmans, the Kerckoffs, the Motts, the Governor Downey family, the Dominguez family, the Tom Rowans, the Maxwells and many others. The trend of business toward the South and Southwest has caused the passing of these landmarks which have been replaced by modern business structures and little idea can be had of the hospitable homes that but a few short years ago gave way in the process of the city's transformation from yesterday into today." (See Christian Henne, 2d. [deceased], Press Reference Library, vol. 2, [New York: International News Service, 1913-1915], p. 551.)

Building Notes

An early retail tenant of the Henne Block, the Emporium, did not last the year of 1897 in business. The Los Angeles Times wrote: "The entire fixtures of the Emporium, 106 South Spring street, Henne building, will be removed, and the store, 28x92 feet, with basement, is now for rent. For particulars apply at 210 Henne building." (See "City Briefs," Los Angeles Times, 09/28/1897, p. 12.)

An elevator in the Henne Building had an accident about a year after it was installed. The Los Angeles Times stated in 1898: "What might have been a most serious accident happened yesterday afternoon shortly before 3 o'clock in the Henne building on Third street near Spring. As it was the accident gave two men a scare from which they not recover soon. While ascending to the second floor the passenger elevator suddenly dropped to the bottom of the shaft, and, striking the bumpers, rebounded almost to a level with the ground floor, when the safety clutches caught and held it. George Barber was at the lever in the cage and an unknown man entered to go to the second floor. Barber turned on the current and the cage began to rise. It had gone but a short distance when it seemed that the cables broke and the car dashed to the bottom of the shaft. When it rebounded, it began jumping up and down, the clutches barely holding it from again falling. While it was thus jumping Barber opened the door and told his passenger to jump, which he did and Barber followed. Neither was injured." The article concluded about the cause of the accident: "Subsequent examination showed that the gearing of the electric motor which runs the elevator had been broken, two cogs being knocked out. When in the revolution of the wheels these broken cogs came to where they should engage other cogs, the wheels of course slipped, allowing the elevator to fall. The damage will be repaired immediately and the motor will be covered to prevent the possibility of another similar accident." (See "Dropped Fifteen Feet" Los Angeles Times, 12/07/1898, p. 7.)

As reported by the Los Angeles Herald, another, more serious, accident occurred in 1906, with one of the building's elevators being damaged significantly: "An elevator in the Henne building, on Third street, became unmanageable yesterday morning and the elevator boy, Murray Chapman, could not stop it. When it neared the fourth floor, it dashed up with tremendous force and the cage was bent and twisted out of shape by the impact with the buffer at the top of the building. A young woman passenger fainted from fright but received no other injury." As this had happened before, building owners "...attempted to deny that there had been a mishap...." and blamed the accident on Chapman's "negligence." (See "Henne Building Life Comes to Quick Stop," Los Angeles Herald, vol. 33, no. 202, 04/20/1906, pt II, p. 5.)

In 1903, architect John Paul Krempel (1861-1933) had his office in Rooms #415-416 of the Henne Building; the architect Arthur L. Haley had his offices in Rooms #204-206 of the Henne Building at the same time, as did M.P. Martin (Room #113), B.J. Reeve (Room #311), Charles F. Whittlesey (Room #301) and George H. Wyman (Room #320). (See Los Angeles Classified Business Directory, 1903, p. 1705.)

PCAD id: 16654