AKA: Arcadia Block, Civic Center, Los Angeles, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1858-1859, demolished 1927

2 stories

view all images ( of 1 shown)

West Aliso Street and North Los Angeles Street
Downtown, Los Angeles, CA 90012

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map


The Arcadia Block, erected for an extraordinary sum by Los Angeles's wealthiest Anglo-American resident, Don Abel Stearns, would become an important symbol of commercial progress in the city, when finished in 1859. It was the first fired-brick structure with iron fittings, and accommodated a popular early theatre in the city. For many years it housed Harris Newmark and Company, a longtime wholesale grocery and drug merchant. Newmark (1834-1916) would write one of the most influential Anglo-American histories of Los Angeles, Sixty Years in Southern California, (new york: Knickerbocker Press, 1916).

Building History

Cattle rancher Abel Stearns (1798- 1871) financed construction of the Arcadia Building supposedly at a cost of $80,000, located on the southwest corner of Arcadia and Los Angeles Streets. Completed in 09/1859, it was the first all-brick (non-adobe) commercial block in Los Angeles, CA. It was named for his youthful Mexican-American wife, Arcadia Bandini de Stearns, (1825-1912) whom he married in 1839. Arcadia Bandini also gave her name to the nearby "Arcadia Street." Stearns was one of the earliest Anglo-Americans to settle in Southern CA in 1828, and he became its wealthiest, obtaining large agricultural land grants from the Mexican government (he had become a Mexican citizen), and owning, at the height of his prosperity in the 1850s, 50,000 head of cattle, 10,000 sheep and 2,000 horses.

A statewide drought duringthe early 1860s seriously damaged Stearns's large ranching operations in Southern CA, forcing him to sell his most of his land holdings. Mathus Wolfskill purchased the Arcadia Building for $30,000 at a Sheriff's auction in 03/1867.

In its last years, the Waterhouse and Lester Company, dealers in vehicle and garage supplies, occupied the Arcadia Block.

Building Notes

In the mid-1870s, the second floor of the Arcadia Block accommodated Stearns's Hall, a space that served as a stage for various theatrical and political assemblies. (See "Stearns Hall," Los Angeles Herald, 11/19/1875.)

Curson and Wilson Wholesale Commission Merchants occupied Number 1, Arcadia Block, 09/1882.


The Arcadia Block was razed in 05/1927.

PCAD id: 367