Monday, January 25, 2016

Oh, Those Fancy Names!

I love driving around my neighborhood and seeing the various types of architecture. Some areas are very cohesive. My immediate street is mostly Spanish Revival homes from the late 1920s and early 1930s. There are a few English Tudor Revival, Italianate and Storybook homes thrown in too. In the blocks surrounding my area, some of the larger homes or apartments from an earlier era were torn down to make room for larger apartment houses on these lots. Many of these were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The boxy style of apartment to which I'm referring are often called "Dingbat" apartments for the whimsical decorations and cursive writing names applied to dress up these boring boxes. There's a short description of Dingbat Apartments here
I particularly like the NAMES some of these buildings are given. My Dad was a sub-contractor during the 1950s and 1960s, supplying doors and wardrobes to many of these buildings on the westside of Los Angeles. He would always tells us, "Wait until you hear the name of THIS building! The builder is going to call it the "Mar-Lou" after his daughter, Mary and his son Louis!" Sometimes the apartments would have very fancy names like "The Spaulding Arms" or "Beverly Estates." They would use Manor, Chateau, Villa or Chez in the names. Fairly grand names for extremely modest buildings! I guess the builders thought they would rent the units faster if their buildings had grandiose titles! Here are some of my favorites:
Casa Bella! Pretty House! This was one of the apartment locations used in the movie, "Slums of Beverly Hills"
The Ogden Arms. My neighborhood
Park Sherbourne with a missing "P." Yeah, this is park-like living at it's finest!
La Traviata. Named after an opera! Santa Monica
The Troyland Apartments, near USC. I actually lived here during college! NOT exactly an enchanted building or location!
One of the most photographed dingbat apartment houses is The Hauser on Hauser Boulevard just south of Pico. When I first moved to the area, the building was white and the decorations were green. The current owner has glamorized the colors considerably, but it's still just a box with small units!
Mid-City Los Angeles
An acquaintance of ours reconditioned a couple of these apartment buildings in the Palms area of Los Angeles. He re-named them the "Crapi," a twist on the romantic location, Capri. The other building is called "Chee-Zee Apartments," really a joke on this type of branding!
Crapi Apartments, Palms
Chee-Zee Apartments, Palms

Larry and I were on our way to lunch at Normandie Bakery on Jefferson and Cochran a couple of weeks ago. I noticed the Hauser Havens Apts. Oooooo...nice cursive script, clean lines, perfect black and white striped awnings and the added feature of Rocky Mountain stone to the front of the building. A HAVEN, indeed!
Hauser Havens Apts., Mid-City Los Angeles
If you're interested in learning more about Dingbat Apartments in Southern California, there is an excellent book called "Pretty Vacant" by Clive Piercy (2003) that presents photos of these mid-20th century designs.

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At 2:43 PM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

Of course, today's sterling entry about one of my favorite architectural features of the L.A. landscape put me in mind of that immortal edifice, the Crapi apartments. A bit of the old Google, and this appeared, with many other worthy additions to your gallery:

At 2:48 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

I just added my own photos of The Crapi and Chee-Zee Apartments, Richard! Palms is a treasure-trove of these buildings!!


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