AKA: Sears Catalog Warehouse, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA; Sears, Roebuck and Company, Mail Order Distribution Center, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - department stores

Designers: Nimmons, Carr and Wright Architects (firm); Nimmons, George C., and Company, Architects (firm); Scofield Engineering Construction Company (firm); George Wallace Carr (architect); George Croll Nimmons (architect); Edson Mason Scofield (building contractor); Wright (architect)

Dates: constructed 1926-1927

9 stories, total floor area: 1,800,000 sq. ft.

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2650 East Olympic Boulevard
Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA 90023

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Building History

The Chicago-based department-store chain Sears commissioned Chicago architect, George F. Nimmons (1865-1947) to design this vast complex in 1926. Nimmons had developed a close professional relationship with company executives, having designed many stores and warehouses for it before 1927. Laid out on 11 acres, the complex included a Sears Department Store and multiple warehouse spaces. Sears closed the warehouse in 01/1992, but maintained the department store on the first floor after that time. The Scofield Engineering Construction Company served as the building contractor, taking a remarkable 146 days to erect it. (Construction began in late 12/1926 and was finished by 06/1927.) In the first decades of the twentieth century, construction companies competed with one another to produce the largest buildings in the shortest amounts of time. During the 1920s, particularly, building owners often demanded that construction be done at breakneck speeds; financial incentives to contractors fueled this pace.

Building Notes

The tower of the building resembled Eliel Saarinen's much-copied entry in the Chicago Tribune Office Building Competition of the early 1920s. This made sense, as the architectural firm, Nimmons, Carr and Wright, was from Chicago, IL. The rapidly growing Sears, Roebuck and Company department store chain built nine mammoth mail-order warehouses across the US between 1910 and 1929, this East Los Angeles location serving as a catalog distribution hub for its Rocky Mountain and West Coast catalog operations until 1992. The building had an interesting stylistic character. The verticality of the narrow bays underscored its Art Deco influence. Piers were emphasized creating a continuous vertical line that extended slightly above the parapet. Ornamentation (seen on the corners at the parapet line) suggested Art Deco and Prairie Style influences.


Alterations and additions occurred throughout the 1927-1992 period by Sears.

Los Angeles City Historical-Cultural Monument (2004): 788

National Register of Historic Places (April 21, 2006): 5001407 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 3464