Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Parkinson, John, Architect (firm); Preston, Jasper N. and Son, Architects (firm); John Parkinson (architect); Jasper Newton Preston (architect); Samuel A.J. Preston (architect)

Dates: constructed 1888-1889

7 stories

Spring Street and 2nd Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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The Burdick Block occupied the northeast corner of Spring and 2nd Streets.


Civil engineer Fred Eaton commissioned the recently arriving Texas architects of Jasper Newton and Samuel A.J. Preston to design him a six-story office/retail block in Los Angeles's fast-growing central business district in 1888. He continued to serve as the building's manager in 1891. (See Los Angeles, California, City Directory, 1891, p. 158.)

Building History

Frederick Eaton (1856-1934), one of the first Anglo babies born in Southern CA, became a farmer in early Los Angeles, and took coursework in civil engineering at Santa Clara University. He became the city's first native-born engineer, who would take key positions in city government during a formative period, serving as both City Surveyor and Engineer (1885) and City Engineer (1889-1890). As City Engineer, he supervised the initial lines of the city's sewage system. He also served as the Los Angeles's Mayor, (1898-1900). Perhaps his most famous, and, to some, most notorious activity, was his involvement in obtaining water from the Owens Valley, 250 miles away from Los Angeles. He worked with Northern Ireland-born engineer William Mulholland (1855-1935) to develop a plan to purchase Owens Valley land and remove its water via a lengthy and controversial aqueduct to the city. (See the City of Los Angeles, "Los Angeles' City Engineers and Surveyors," accessed 03/31/2017.)

In 1873, he purchased the land of Cyrus Burdick (1837-1905), whose home stood on the northeast corner of Spring and 2nd Streets. Two years later, he married his niece, Helen Lucretia Burdick (1855-1934). During the 1880s, real estate speculation increased in Los Angeles, and people began to build business buildings in the vicinty of Cyrus Burdick's old homestead. In 1888, Eaton commissioned the architectural firm of Newton and Son, to design a large-scale office/retail block for the corner property.

The recently-arrived architectural firm of Newton and Son, Architects, planned the six-story Burdick Building in early 1888. Jasper Newton Preston (1832-after 1920) and his son Samuel A.J. Preston (1858-1889) had come to Los Angeles from Austin, TX, where they had developed a high reputation within the architectural profession. The Los Angeles real estate boom of the 1880s attracted their attention in TX, and convinced them to enter the competition for a new Los Angeles County Courthouse in 1886. Their entry did not win, but did attract positive response, encouraging them to decamp to Southern CA.

The Los Angeles Herald published a story announcing the planning of the Burdick Block on the front page of its 05/06/1888 issue. It stated: "Within sixty days it is expected that another addition to the architectural beauty of Los Angeles will be commenced. This time it will be a six-story and basement, Sespe brownstone building, on the corner of the Spring and Second streets, to be known as the Burdick Block. The plans for this building are already completed, and the architects, Messrs. Preston & Son, are now engaged in drawing the working plans. The basement will be fitted up for offices, with lights from the sidewalk, and the roof will be covered with Spanish tiling. The front portion of the first floor will be arranged so that it can be used either for banks or offices, and in the rear fronting on Second street there will be three stores. The hallways on this floor will cross each other at the about the center of the building--one having a thirteen-foot entrance on Spring street and the other an eighteen-foot entrance on Second street. The stairway and elevator will be placed at the intersection. The next four stories will be arranged very conveniently for offices, and will contain over a hundred rooms. The top story will either be used as a residence or as a club-room. The building will cover an area fronting 60 feet on Spring street and 148 feet on Second. The outside finish will be very imposing, but there will be no bay windows. There will be no delivery of goods over the sidewalk, arrangements having been provided for their reception in Mott alley and conveyed from there by elevators and railways. The building has been so arranged that parties renting the three stores fronting on Second street may have a part of the floor above. When this building has been completed the intersection of Spring and Second streets will be the most imposing in the city. The cost of this building will be $125,000." (See "Another New Block," Los Angeles Herald, vol. 30, no. 33, 05/06/1888, p. 1.) The "Sespe brownstone" mentioned in the building description, "...a hard brown sandstone, uniform in texture and color and very resistant to weathering...," came from the Sespe Canyon area of Ventura County. The web site, "Stone Quarries and Beyond Ventura County" noted that “The Los Angeles Brownstone Company quarried rock in this cañon for several months, in 1888, and then left the work." This would have been at the same time as the construction of the Burdick Building. (See, "Stone Quarries and Beyond Ventura County," accessed 03/31/2017.)

The Los Angeles Trust Company purchased the Burdick Block from Fred Eaton in mid-02/1902; it executed some interior remodeling and planned an addition that would have added five more stories. (See Jay Spence, "The World Today," Los Angeles Times, 01/02/1922, part I, p. 3.) The Los Angeles Times noted in its 04/04/1902 issue: "Paul Haupt was yesterday awarded the principal contract to be let in connection with the five additional stories to be built on the Burdick Block, Second and Spring streets. It amounts to $75,000. B.V. Collins was awarded the contract for the mrable and marble work, for $9,000. The other contracts will be let in time to permit the work to proceed without delay. The cost of the building to the present owners was about $200,000, and the improvements contemplated will be abount to $150,000, but when they are finished this will be one of the finest office blocks in Los Angeles." (See "Five More Stories," Los Angeles Times, 04/04/1902, p. A2.) It does not appear that this addition was ever made.

Building Notes

In the 1940s, the California Bank occupied a large storefront on the Spring Street facade.

The building had a rectangular shape, longer on its 2nd Street side than its Spring Street facade. Rusticated stone clad the Burdick Block's tall first two floors, while brick covered the upper stories. A rusticated belt course separated the second and third floors. Two entries on the Spring Street side had arches covereing them, the larger one to the north having concatenated arches and overlapping, engaged columns. Fixed plate glass windows illuminated first-floor storefronts, the lighting augemented by clerestory windows. The second floor, too, had tall proportions heightened by the addition of a clerestory row. Windows of the second story were double-hung. Money was spent on the costly rusticated stone facing on floors one and two, but floors three through six had an austere appearance. The Prestons rounded the block's corner facing Spring and 2nd. The most notable feature of the upper-floor fenestration was the slight segmental arch the architects gave each window opening.


The firm of John Parkinson, Architect, designed a one-floor addition to the building's top floor in 1900, giving the building seven stories. Parkinson gave the new seventh floor a row of arched windows that contrasted notably with the segmental openings below. Parkinson also crowned the building with a pronounced entablature onramented by a stacked series of three dentil bands.


The Burdick Block was razed.

PCAD id: 21024