The Secret Lives of Bricks


We never knew that bricks from the old City Hall, built on Broadway in 1888 and demolished after the current Hall was completed in 1928, were then used to erect a building for the Heinsbergen Decorating Company that same year. Muralist Anthony Heinsbergen had done work on the current City Hall and is said to have taken at least some of the old bricks as partial payment. Architect Claud Beelman's new-old design for Heinsbergen incorporating them still stands at 7415 Beverly Boulevard.

On January 20, 1889, just as City Hall was being completed, the Herald reported that the building committee of the city council had been concerned for some time that the building's tower was rising dangerously high; on February 5, the paper reported that cracks had been found at various locations, defects explained by the architects, Eugene Caukin and Solomon Haas, if somewhat unconvincingly, as being part of the normal settling of materials. There appears to have been serious discussion as to decapitating the tower of the brand new building immediately, though it wouldn't be until after the San Jacinto earthquake of April 21, 1918, when tiles were shaken to the ground, that action was taken, with work completed in early 1919.

Loftier portions of many masonry buildings in Los Angeles were removed or lowered
after or in anticipation of seismic activity; after damage sustained in a quake
centered at San Jacinto on April 21, 1918, it was deemed necessary,
20 years after initial concerns, to cut down City Hall's tower.
The first remodeling proposals would have eliminated the
pyramidal top. The building is seen here not long
before total demolition in 1928, when the
current hall opened in a new tower.

An auction in January 1928 divvied up the pieces

Demolition began later in the year, with one high bidder or barterer for the bricks
being the builder of a new structure going up six miles to the west.

7415 Beverly Boulevard: Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #275

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAPL; Wikipedia