Morgan, Walls, and Clements | Los Angeles Conservancy

Morgan, Walls, and Clements

Morgan, Walls & Clements

Morgan, Walls & Clements played a leading role in creating the architectural landscape of early Los Angeles. One of the oldest and most prolific firms in the city, the company designed many of Los Angeles’ landmark buildings dating back to the late 1800s. 

Known for working in various Spanish revival styles in their earlier years, the firm became one of the city’s most prominent practitioners of Art Deco and Streamline architecture in the late 1920s and 1930s. Their trove of Los Angeles landmarks includes theatres such as the El Capitan and Mayan, the beloved (and now-demolished) Richfield Tower, Malibu’s Adamson House, and the Wiltern Theatre.

The firm was originally established in 1890 as Morgan and Walls, with partners Octavius W. Morgan (1850-1922) and John A. Walls (1860-1922). Morgan had previously partnered with architect Ezra Kysor, who co-designed L.A.’s first cathedral, St. Vibiana (1876). Walls was a native of Buffalo, New York who moved to Los Angeles in 1887.

After serving on the board of the AIA (one of two architects representing the West Coast), Morgan retired in 1910. His son, Octavius Morgan, Jr. (1886-1951), became a partner along with Stiles O. Clements (1883-1966), and the firm was renamed Morgan, Walls & Clements.  

Like his father, the younger Morgan was active in the architectural community. He served as an officer for the AIA’s Southern California chapter and was the president of the Allied Architects Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to municipal design.

Clements is credited as principal designer for many of the firm’s most celebrated projects. Educated at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he became a leading figure in the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne movements. 

Walls passed away in 1922, yet the company name remained unchanged until Clements left in 1937 to start his own practice. Clements continued to shape the Los Angeles landscape for decades, helming Stiles O. Clements & Associates until his retirement in 1965.

 

Los Angeles Conservancy archives

El Capitan Theatre and Office Building

The El Capitan Theatre and Office Building is the third of four major theatres constructed by prominent real estate developer C. E. Toberman, known as the “Father of Hollywood.” The six-story building was designed in the elaborate Spanish Baroque style by the renowned firm of Morgan, Walls, & Clements, who incorporated retail and office space into the upper floors. Noted theatre architect G. Albert Lansburgh designed the elaborate interior.