Artwork Deco gem in Downtown LA restored to 1920s glory
When Title Insurance and Trust Co. opened the ornately carved bronze doors to its headquarters on Spring Street in 1928, customers passed a dramatic vestibule with breathtaking details for the first time.
It wasn’t just the entrance. The fortress, clad in terracotta, was softened inside and out with gilded craft showcases: hand-painted gold leaf stencils, tile murals designed by Hugo Ballin, inlaid marble floors, all in motifs and patterns with flowers, zigzags and diamonds – “any shape that is available to you”, says architecture historian Katie Horak.
But the glitz of downtown eventually wore off and in 1977 the bank moved west. For the past 25 years, the Art Deco memorial has been empty except for film footage (the former banking hall on the second floor, which was filled as the trading floor in the Dark Knight Rises) Now that money is flowing into the city center again, the “Queen of Spring Street” is regaining her crown.
“There are the best Art Deco buildings in Los Angeles up there,” said Horak, principal at Architectural Resources Group.
In the lobby, the recessed ceilings have been carefully repainted in their original designs.
The dramatic vestibule with recessed entrances with zigzag edges and a ceiling of gold and black.
The lobby is almost entirely original from 1928.
The company worked with Rising Realty Partners and Lionstone Investments to restore the building to completion and convert the upper floors into modern offices that will be marketed to the creative industries.
Companies are slowing lease signing, including KTGY Architecture and Planning, to move into the building at 433 South Spring Street next year.
This week, Eater LA reported that celebrity chef Curtis Stone will be opening a 4,000 square foot restaurant in the historic landmark. Along with a potential rooftop bar and street level cafe, this gives the public the chance to marvel at the newly restored lobby.
In the Trust building, visitors enter the lobby through this exquisite vestibule, which is one of the most decorated rooms in the 12-story structure. Restoration specialists carefully repainted the ceiling graphics – including masked slogans – reconstructing original chandeliers that had disappeared, uncovering a door with a scalloped grill, and repolishing the black and ivory marble floors.
“Can you imagine trying that now?” Adam Lev, who previously directed part of the restoration, says all original details. Architects would want it, he said, but to save costs, builders would certainly say no.
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