Monday, March 21, 2011

Hughes Aircraft Tour

Bldg 15, The Cargo Building, 1943

Yesterday, in the pouring rain we toured the Hughes Aircraft Company's Culver City Campus with the L.A. Conservancy. Here's an excerpt from the tour brochure:
"The history of Hughes Aircraft Company is a complex one. Innovative and pioneering, the company went through many phases over the years as the interest and involvement of its famed founder, billionaire industrialist Howard Hughes, evolved. It was here that Howard Hughes and his team designed and built planes, helicopters, and most famously, the H-4 Hercules Flying Boat, more commonly known as the Spruce Goose. The site is now known as the Hercules Campus, and it has rarely been open to the public. During World War II, its airfield seldom even appeared on maps. While the Spruce Goose itself is now housed in Oregon, eleven of the original campus buildings remain on the now twenty-eight-acre site. An exciting $50 million historic preservation development project by The Ratkovich Company will adapt the remaining structures for creative use, including design, technology, and movie production."

Bldg. 1, Administration Building, 1950
Original Plans for Administration Building, Henry L. Gogerty, architect
Vintage Photo of Bldg. 10, Cafeteria, 1942-3, redesigned 1950

It was a gray, rainy day, filled with lots of gray buildings! We started our tour in the largest building where the Spruce Goose was built. This is a building of mammoth proportions!!! All of our L.A. Conservancy docents were extremely well-versed and gave us an excellent tour, in spite of the bad weather. This was a tour that centered on the architecture of the campus, not so much the history of aerospace. Most of the buildings were built between 1942 and 1952 in the International Style.

Bldg. 10, Cafeteria - today

L.A. Conservancy Photographer, Larry Underhill
photo courtesy of Chris Nichols

I encourage you to join the Los Angeles Conservancy to help support building preservation in Los Angeles. You can also friend LAC on Facebook to receive updates on tours, preservation issues and more!

Stuart and Amy were prepared for the rain!

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7 Comments:

At 12:46 AM PDT, Blogger Z of ZKNITZ said...

Nice pictures...and thank you for the info.

Whenever I think of the word "conservatory", I don't think of buildings...but I guess they need saving just as much as trees.

 
At 9:42 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the synopsis. I attended the tour as well and it is nice to share your write-up of it with friends and colleagues.

 
At 12:38 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the tour also. Video tapped the WHOLE THING!! Pictures are very nice....I'm only 29 but Hughes has changed my life. I even work for a company that makes composite parts for airplans and we still use HUGHES AIRCRAFT blue prints ;)

 
At 3:42 PM PDT, Blogger Natalie said...

What happened to the cool cafeteria? Terrible remodel that was. Too bad they took all the cool out of the building.

Looks like an awesome tour.

 
At 11:45 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were out there in the rain along with 750 others, touring the old buildings. It was interesting to see where the company I used to work for started. The old Admin building must have been beautiful in its' day, with all of the mahogany offices. Thank you for posting these photos!

 
At 11:25 PM PDT, Anonymous Lary Stevens said...

Thank you for reporting on the tour. I worked at the plant from 1974 to 1980. It was quite a busy place. There were so many people that had to park their cars so far away that they supplied large buses in the mornings and afternoons to take them to work and back to their cars. All of the buildings and grounds were kept up. My daughter now lives in the new housing development built on the property.

 
At 7:29 AM PST, Anonymous Alison said...

Such a great article it was which the site is now known as the Hercules Campus, and it has rarely been open to the public. During World War II, its airfield seldom even appeared on maps. While the Spruce Goose itself is now housed in Oregon, eleven of the original campus buildings remain on the now twenty-eight-acre site. Thanks for sharing this article.

 

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