Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Armet and Davis, AIA, Architects (firm); Louis Logue Armet (architect); Eldon Carlyle Davis (architect); Helen Liu Fong (interior designer)

Dates: constructed 1957, demolished 2003

1 story

3730 Crenshaw Boulevard
Crenshaw District, Los Angeles, CA 90016-5804

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Los Angeles architects, Armet and Davis, designed the Holiday Bowl; this firm was well-known for its roadside architecture, focusing on the design of coffee shops, bowling alleys, and other common building types lining suburban streets of the 1950s. Armet and Davis produced buildings easily visible from moving automobiles. Roof forms, particularly of their restaurants, tended to be highly sculptural, deriving in some cases from work by Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler and John Lautner, with large expanses of windows to enable the interiors to be seen from a distance. Structural members were often emphasized in unusual ways adding to their buildings' unconventional and novel appearances. Transparency allowed for the interior activity to draw customers inside. Their widespread work helped spread the popularity of "Googie" architecture well beyond Southern California. Ownership of the Holiday Bowl changed periodically, as did menus served in the coffee shop, tweaked periodically to satisfy its multi-ethnic clientele. The complex became, at a time of still prevalent segregation in Los Angeles, an area of common ground, where various races could meet and relax. By 2000, bowling had gradually lost its appeal for many, and the lanes closed. After its closure, a developer purchased the land and sought to demolish the landmark, claiming that a Googie building could have no social or architectural significance. The City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated the building as Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #688 on 12/19/2000. Landmark status did not protect it, however, as the developer claimed economic hardship and the building was removed in 2003. Since its closure, the Holiday Bowl has become a symbol for historic preservationists and neighborhood advocates, who point to it as an example of an architecturally significant, successful cross-cultural meeting place that was not respected by city officials.

Architectural historian Lauren Weiss Bricker has written of the 32-lane Holiday Bowl: "Holiday Bowl was built by four Japanese-American businessmen on land they leased. During the postwar period, the Crenshaw District re-established its community of Japanese and African-Americans, embracing returning soldiers and Japanese-American families interned during the war. By the 1950s, second and third generation Japanese-Americans had settled in the Crenshaw District, making it one of the largest Japanese-American communities in Los Angeles. One of the favorite forms of recreation in the community was bowling, which many Japanese-Americans took up before World War II, at the time when it was the fastest growing sport in the United States. At the Holiday Bowl, Japanese and African-American clientele were catered to in a variety of ways. The bowling alley was open twenty-four hours to accommodate swing shifts of individuals working at local aerospace plants. Food service was an important part of the experience at the Holiday Bowl, especially during tournaments when the participants might eat two meals on the premises. Originally the coffee shop served only western fare, but that was soon modified to meet the multi-ethnic tastes of the clientele." The coffee shop served hamburgers, udon, grits and Louisiana hot links. The bowling experience was also fueled by alcohol. A bar on premises, Sakiba, designed by Armet and Davis's interior designer, Helen Liu Fong (d. 04/17/2005), served mixed drinks and beer. Sales of drinks padded the profits of the bowling alley's owners, and many bowling alleys of this period included bars to increase revenue and attract customers. (See Lauren Weiss Bricker, "History in Motion: A Glance at Historic Preservation in California," Future Anterior, volume 1, number 2, Fall 2004, p. 7.)

Demolished. The Holiday Bowl was razed after three years of debate in 10/2003. Only the coffee shop section of the complex was retained, and it became a Starbucks in later years. A Big 5 Sporting Goods store later occupied its land.

Los Angeles City Historical-Cultural Monument (2000-12-19): 688

PCAD id: 2594