Junipero Serra State Office Building
Arthur T. Letts established his new business in a rented space at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway, eventually expanding the company, The Broadway Department Store, into California's largest retail establishment of the era.
This Beaux Arts building with its restrained Italian Renaissance Revival ornamentation is the work of architects John Parkinson and Edwin Bergstrom. The two also collaborated on the Security Trust and Savings Bank and the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The façade of this building is beige matte-finish terra cotta and pressed brick, and design elements include a pressed metal cornice with dentils, and egg-and-dart molding, carved modillions and a fillet band at the top.
Broadway Department Store founder Arthur T. Letts arrived in Los Angeles in 1895 from Great Britain after unsuccessful mercantile ventures in Canada and Seattle. He purchased the stock of a bankrupt company and established his new business in a rented space at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway, eventually expanding into several other spaces, including the Hotel Clark. In 1912, the company announced it would be constructing a new building to expand its business, and leading architecture firm Parkinson and Bergstrom had been chosen for the job. The work was done in stages, and retail activity was able to continue uninterrupted around the corner on Hill Street. Letts later expanded the company with branch stores throughout Los Angeles, and was California's largest retail establishment of the era.
In 1973 The Broadway closed this location and the building sat vacant for over twenty years, during which it faced extensive vandalism and damage from aborted remodel attempts. The State of California purchased the building in 1995 a part of Governor Pete Wilson's plan to move 3,500 state workers into the historic core of Downtown. In 1999 it reopened as the Junipero Serra Building, a modern 350,000- square-foot office building, occupied by 1,700 employees. It was the lowest-cost California State office building in three decades and received a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2000.