The Town House | Los Angeles Conservancy
Conservancy Executive Director Linda Dishman speaking at 1993 rally. Photo by Libby Simon/L.A. Conservancy

The Town House

Built as one of Los Angeles’ most prominent luxury apartments in 1929 and for many years one of Wilshire Boulevard’s most prominent hotels, the Town House closed its doors in 1993 and was slated for demolition by its owners. The Conservancy pursued landmark designation to afford protection to the elegant Beaux Arts structure and held a massive rally in front of the Town House in March of 1993. 

Responding to the rally that attracted hundreds of Conservancy members, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved designation of the venerable Town House as a Historic-Cultural Monument. The designation persuaded the owners to sell the property instead of demolishing the landmark, which was sensitively rehabilitated for affordable housing.

Once one of Los Angeles’ most fashionable addresses, first as luxury apartments and later operating as a hotel, the Town House closed its doors in 1993 and faced an uncertain future. The owner at the time planned to sell the building, but an unresponsive market resulted in a change of plans: demolish the building and pave the site for parking as a clear site might attract more interest. When news of the proposed demolition was announced, the Conservancy and local preservationists quickly authored and submitted a local landmark nomination as a way to afford protection for the Town House and buy time for preservation alternatives to be considered.

Owing to owner opposition, the landmark nomination application was not initially taken under consideration.  Undaunted, the Conservancy held a highly visible rally outside the entrance to the Town House that was attended by both neighborhood residents as well as preservation advocates. Speakers included some Los Angeles City Councilmembers who agreed that the Town House should be preserved.  Encouraged by that level of support, the Conservancy appealed directly to the City Council for consideration of designating the Town House. Councilmember Nate Holden introduced the motion to initiate the landmark nomination process, with an unprecedented outcome: the City Council voted 12-0 (3 absent) to designate the Town House as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM).

With the immediate threat of demolition halted, the Conservancy and the community began looking for potential buyers that could sensitively reuse the Town House. It took several years, but in 1997, MacLeod Partnership and the Pacific Asian Consortium on Employment acquired the property for low-income family housing. The subsequent rehabilitation and conversion to affordable family housing had three components: residential, commercial and recreational. The Town House, long a prominent fixture of Wilshire Boulevard, was transformed into 134 family units, with community spaces including a library, pre-school/day care center, and classrooms for arts and craft. Commercial and retail space is available on the ground floor.