Casa de Cadillac | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Brian Weed on Flickr

Casa de Cadillac

This modern dealership is one of the most significant, postwar auto showrooms remaining in Los Angeles County and was a featured site in two past tours offered by the Conservancy and its Modern Committee: “How Modern Was My Valley” (2000) and “Modcom: 20-20-20” (2004).

As a building type, auto showrooms have lately become vulnerable as dealerships have either closed or undertaken corporate rebranding that compromise the buildings’ original design. Recent losses include Lou Ehlers Cadillac (1955, demolished 2008) and Crenshaw Ford (1946, demolished 2009) in Los Angeles and Crestview Cadillac (1962, altered in 2012) in West Covina.

Conservancy staff met with the building’s owner, Howard Drake, who was responsible for a renovation project that both preserves and updates features of Casa. Throughout the process Drake has stated his intent to retain Casa's unique architectural character. As part of the project, the glazing along the front façade has been replaced. Previously the façade was altered following the Northridge Earthquake of 1994. The current project restores the original 1949 look of the front façade.

When renovation work first began, the Conservancy reached out to Drake and the office of Councilmember Tom LaBonge, in whose district the building is located. The owner credits a 2005 letter from the Conservancy stating the importance of Casa in helping him to negotiate with General Motors regarding the scope of renovation plans and proposed branding. Without a sympathetic owner in place who cares and understands what makes Casa so special, the building could have been radically altered and the features lost.