Pierce Brothers Mortuary | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Jean Frost/West Adams Heritage Association

Pierce Brothers Mortuary

Two fires -- on October 4, 2018 and then again on February 22 -- have severely damaged the historic Pierce Brothers Mortuary, which had been vacant in recent years. The historically significant property, which was the first full-service funeral home built in Los Angeles, is a designated Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). Until the property owner adequately secures and stabilizes the building, this is a case of demolition by neglect. The Conservancy and community groups are concerned about further damage that  can occur. 

The fires caused extensive damage to the structure, but discussions are taking place on saving as much of the historic structure as possible. The Conservancy is working with the West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA) to help assess the condition of the building and offer recommendations for stabilization. The Department of Building and Safety red-tagged the structure, deeming it too unsafe to enter or occupy.

Given the severity of the fires and significance of the property, the Conservancy encourages the property owner and the Department of Building and Safety to thoroughly consider all options and not rush to the conclusion that complete demolition is warranted. Opportunities exist to repair the structure with the guidance of a preservation architect while retaining historic fabric.

Because the property is designated as an HCM, any decisions regarding its treatment following the fire must be reviewed by the city’s Office of Historic Resources and Cultural Heritage Commission. 

“Demolition by Neglect” is the term used to describe a situation in which a property owner intentionally allows a historic property to suffer severe deterioration, potentially beyond the point of repair. Property owners may use this kind of long-term neglect to circumvent historic preservation regulations.

Intentional neglect and allowing aproperty to remain unsecured is sometimes a strategy used by an owner(s) who want to develop the property, free of any historic buildings. Intervening, stabilizing and eventually rehabilitation of Pierce Brothers  depends on what action the City decides to take, if at all.

Reach out to the office of Council Member Gil Cedillo and ask the City to take affirmitive enforcement steps,  pressing the owner to first secure the building with stabilization to follow. 

Contact Gerald G. Gubatan, Senior Planning Deputy:

Council District 1
City Hall, Room 460
Los Angeles, CA  90012
Tel: 213.473.7001