El Dorado Apartments, formally the Hotel Stowell

At my son’s wedding I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely young couple who live downtown. They were very gracious and invited me to come see their apartment in a wonderful old building on Spring St. el_doradoHere is an image from the 1980s’ before the building was renovated. There used to be a blade sign in the middle of the building which is now gone.

El Dorado Apartments, Hotel StowellHere is the renovated exterior, the fire escape was removed, and the platforms became balconies.  On the south side of the building, they broke through, added windows and balconies as well.El DoradoThis building was built in 1913, named for the developer. The beautiful design elements on the exterior are  Art Nouveaux, a style seen more in Europe than in the US. Charlie Chaplin lived there as he was starting his career here in LA.IMG_3378The wonderful designs are molded concrete. The Green is colored bricks. A few years later Gladding McBean would start manufacturing wonderful glazed terra cotta tiles. It’s nice to see what predated that.IMG_3670Last year, the building got this designation.

A resident found this sign and it is now in the lobby. Hotel Stowel signNotice the misspelling of the name, I think they ran out of room for the second L. Fireproof was a big selling point in those days, fires were the biggest hazard to buildings in the early 20th century. Those prices are what one would expect for a nice hotel in those days.

One of the things that made this hotel famous was the lobby. Scan of old lobby in Stowell Here is an old image of the lobby. Below the lobby in the basement there was a cafe as well, a very necessary service to offer guests a place to eat. Both made extensive use of Batchelder Tiles.  To my delight and amazement, there are plans underfoot to turn this into a restaurant. We were able to go take a look.IMG_3686Apparently they are working in conjunction with historians to maintain the correct colors.  You can see two of the pillars are being painted black, they do have some leeway with their design choices. They are building a bar (right side of the photo) and are covering up some of the tiles.Staircase in the Stowell Hotel LobbyIt appears that they are removing the white paint from the bannister, interesting, since in the old photo it looked white. Maybe that is why they are choosing black for the pillars, to match the dark bannisters.IMG_3682Also, cleaning up the woodwork, which I think will be a great improvement.PIIR57eVRge7MewgapqbCAHere are examples of the tiles, both plain and decorative. Batchelder is known for unglazed tiles and often uses these wonderful animals, both real (bird) and mythical (griffin).The top image shows how they have covered all but the decorative tile. It’s covered with drywall – so no tiles are being destroyed.

Batchelder tilesExamples of the floor.  Not all the original floor remains but what does is beautiful.

As for the apartment. It is lovely. My hosts asked it I was surprised that it doesn’t have any historical elements. Not at all. The exterior and the lobby of many buildings are beautiful and made to impress. Once you go into the office areas or hotel rooms – they are standard and pedestrian. The need to impress is only in the public areas. I can say that the apartment was light airy and had storage!  The modern developer did a great job but to be fair, had nothing historic to work with.



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