The 1887 Brick Block Building Not Remodeled: Replaced in 1929

by Vance Pomeroy


A rather shocking discovery was made during the course of documenting the vital data on this building. It has been promulgated for many recent years that the building sitting at 100 N. Golden Mall at Olive is the original Burbank Brick Block Building built when the town was subdivided in 1887. However, and as unfortunate as it may be considered, this is not so.

The building that sits there now is not of many-times-remodeled 1887 vintage, but is from the year 1929. Because of the researcher's knowledge of the common story of the building and to prevent any future problem arising when preservation of the building could be in jeopardy, painstaking care was taken to gather substantial proof of the new finding. The City has on file a building permit - an "application for erection of store and office building" - not a mere remodeling. Also on the same microfiche file is an inspection card that documents the fact that city inspectors went to the building site and saw that the wiring, plumbing, etc. were in proper order. This is only done on new construction. Both of these documents are dated "1929."

Further proof was obtained from the Southwest Builder and Contractor (SWBC), a construction industry journal published from the 1890's to 1966. Along with news, articles, and advertisements, this weekly publication printed all the building contract bids and their results, building permits, and notices of completion. Attached can be found each of these public documents' contents as recorded in SWBC in 1929. Also found therein was a reference to a building with the same owner, the same contractor, and the same architects in Inglewood. It has virtually the same materials and the same footprint dimensions. This site was visited and the remarkable similarity between these buildings would convince even the layman that these two buildings are of the same stock.

This building does retain a certain level of significance because of its association with the famous architects Walker and Eisen.

NRHP Eligibility Status - 4(c) .

The following are public documents as recorded in the Southwest Builder and Contractor,1929.

4Jan29; p.40-1; article entitled "Building prospects for 1929 are Equally as Good as Those Reported a Year Ago - Projects Aggregating Sixty Million in Sight, Interesting Figures Disclosed by Annual Review" (under "Stores and Lofts" - "Stores and offices, 1 and 2 stories, 68 x 140 ft., brick construction, Burbank; United Stores Realty Co., owner; Walker and Eisen, Western Pacific Bldg., Los Angeles, architects; preliminary plans made. $75,000."

15Mar29; p.48 - Store and Office Building (Burbank) - Architects Walker And Eisen, Western Pacific Bldg., L.A., are taking bids for the erection of a one story and part two story class C store and office building at Burbank for the United Stores Realty Co. It will be 155 x 75 ft., brick construction with stucco and cast stone exterior, composition roof, plate glass, metal skylights, steel sash, pine trim, wood and cement floors, gas heating."

29Mar29; p. 56 - Under 'Contracts Awarded' "Store and Office Building (Burbank) - Christ Thoren, 5615 West Fourth St., has been awarded a contract at about $45,000 for the erection of a one story and part two story, class C store and office at the northwest corner of San Fernando Rd. and Olive Ave., Burbank, for the United Stores Realty - Co. Walker and Eisen,1115 Western Pacific Bldg., L.A., are the architects. The building will be 155 x 75 ft., brick construction with stucco and cast stone exterior, composition roof, plate glass, metal skylights, steel sash, pine trim, wood and cement floors, gas heating."

29Mar29; p.70 - Under 'Building Contracts Recorded' - "Burbank; Class C Brick Stores - United Stores Realty Corp., owner; Walker and Eisen, archts., Western Pacific Bldg., Los Angeles; Christ Thoren, contr., 5615 W. 4th St.; lab. and mat. for 1 and part 2-story class C brick store bldg.,75 x 155 feet, lot 19 and pt. lot 17, blk 52, Burbank; cor. San Fernando Rd and Olive St., Burbank. Time limit, 75 wkg days. Arat., 44,750. Payments, 75% value of lab and mat. monthly, 25% 35 days after notice of completion filed. Contr. bond, 44,750. Nat'l Surety Co., surety. Dated and filed with plans and spec. Mar 25."

5Apr29; p.69 - Under 'Burbank Permits' - "Bldg, comp and tile rf; 100 W San Fernando Rd; lot 19, Blk 52, Town of Burbank; United Stores Realty Co. own, Security Title Insurance Bldg, LA; Christ Thoren, bldr, 5615 W. $th St, Los Angeles $45,000."

2Aug29; p.70 - Under 'Notice of Completion' - "July 26, 1929.- United Stores Realty Corp., (lessee) Christ Thoren (contr) - store and office bldg. n.w. corner Olive St. and San Fernando Blvd., Burbank - lot 19 and pt lot 17, blk 52, Burbank; compl. July 24; rec. July 26."

3May29; p-52 shows United Stores, Christ Thoren, and Walker & Eisen building another Class C bldg. of 56 x 150 ft with same materials (exc. w/o cast stone) at Market and Queen Sts., Inglewood (lot 17, blk 312, Townsite of Inglewood) - 101-13 N. Market St.


The above findings contain rather compelling evidence that there are historic resources in Burbank and that they are in sufficient quantity and representative quality to evoke a feeling of Burbank's history. The next step is to insure that these sites, and any other sites discovered in the future, will be preserved so that Burbank can maintain its own unique sense of place.

Identity and a sense of place are key ingredients in a successful city. Certain things help create the identity of Burbank: the studios, Lockheed, and a stable population that has roots here and has a type of civic pride found in few other Southland communities. This stable population of residents and workers know that Burbank is more than just a legal entity with territorial boundaries. It is a community wrought from enduring relationships with others. This, in turn, creates and later comes from the lasting built environment that evokes this stability. Burbank has the unique quality of longevity and produces a self-perpetuating feeling that here is a safe, secure place to be. Burbank's history and the many successive-generation families here bear this argument out.

Planning is the strongest tool a city has to create growth, a strong economic base, neighborhood stability and safety, and the identity with which a city is considered an attractive place to stay. Historic preservation is one of the most important tools the planning process has to maintain this identity. Burbank's identity and its attractiveness bring businesses, shoppers, homeowners, and prestige. This can be best supported and improved upon with an historic preservation program formed by the city as an integral part of the planning process.

That preservation can improve a city's image and sense of self-identity is not an idle or isolated argument. Many communities nearby and across the country have realized this potential tool and have reaped the benefits. This is why the federal government has set up a standardized program, run through the State Office of Historic Preservation, so that the many cities and counties moving in this direction will be able to derive the maximum benefit from their preservation efforts.

The Certified Local Government (CLG) classification is given by the state Historic Preservation Officer to cities and counties that maintain an historic preservation commission and create a preservation program for surveying, recognizing, and protecting historic sites. The certified designation is given when the city's program meets certain state and federal criteria. The city is then directly linked into the national preservation mechanism and qualifies it for many benefits. These benefits include technical assistance and the ability to tap into grants-in-aid, tax certification, easement donation eligibility, and a share in the Historic Preservation Fund - all of these only available to Certified Local Governments.

Two important parts of creating a local program, and involved in qualifying for CLG designation, are an Historic Preservation Element to the city's General Plan and an enabling ordinance. The element directly links and corresponds historic preservation with the other parts of the General Plan: land use, conservation, housing, safety, etc. It outlines the basic program with purposes, goals, on-going surveys, identification of key sites, and implementation mechanisms.

The major implementation mechanism is an ordinance. This generally sets up a commission to oversee the program and rule on any potential site's significance. The ordinance also sets up the criteria by which a site's significance is judged. The most significant section found in a local ordinance deals with protection. National Register designation does not actually prevent or preclude the destruction of a designated site. It gives recognition and strong incentives for preservation. A local ordinance can give the power to actually prevent or stop the destruction of locally recognized sites. This is a powerful responsibility and an extremely effective planning tool.

In conclusion, one needs to view the larger picture of Burbank and create a plan for the future that blends the existing assets with innovative programs. Historic preservation in Burbank can work with the existing fabric and help produce and maintain a diverse and integrated community rich in heritage, secure for future growth, and stabilized for a strong sense of place and identity.


December 19, 1947; the earliest available photos of the 1929 building (Whelan Drugs). This is a Christmas parade on San Fernando Rd. with former heavyweight boxing champ and Burbank resident Jim Jeffries as Santa.

April, 1987; two views from across Olive Ave. San Fernando Rd. (now Golden Mall) elevation detail.

Return to Burbankia