Al Larson Boat Shop Complex | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Al Larson Boat Shop Complex

The Al Larson Boat Shop (ALBS) is among the longest-running businesses at the Port of Los Angeles, and one of the few remaining that relate to its rich tradition of shipbuilding and repair.

Established in 1903 by Swedish native Al Larson, ALBS initially built and repaired wooden fishing vessels for local fishermen. Shipbuilding soon developed into a major industry at the Port, with lucrative contracts from the U.S. Navy and with the booming fishing industry at Fish Harbor. In 1924, ALBS relocated to its current location from the nearby Wilmington waterfront.

The complex consists of four main buildings and several small sheds, along with docks, piers, and a marina. The two-story, wood-framed Office and Workshop Building was the first building constructed by ALBS at its new location. Most of the interior consists of a tall open space with exposed wood trusses that opens to the water; a two-story office space was added in 1941. The large Paint Shed with a bowstring truss roof was built in 1938 and re-roofed and re-sided in the 1990s.

During World War II, Al Larson Boat Shop built YMS-1 Class Auxiliary motor minesweepers for the U.S. Navy. Operations slowed after the war ended and shipbuilding declined. Andrew Wall bought the business in 1959, and his family still runs it. Wall rebuilt the business to service fishing boats, yachts, and small boats for the government. By the 1960s, ALBS had added a new dry dock, marina, and two adjacent buildings acquired from a different business.

These buildings, the Machine Shop and Building No. 4, were built between 1938 and 1947 for a company that built and repaired engines. The L-shaped Machine Shop has an exposed wooden queen post truss system above two rows of clerestory windows, an excellent example of the maritime industrial building type popular from the 1930s to the 1950s that is becoming rare at the Port. While Building No. 4 exhibits modest elements of the Moderne style, it has had numerous alterations.

Due to a recent realignment of Seaside Avenue, the Southwest Marine Terminal Administrative Building, a contributing structure in the National Register-eligible Bethlehem Shipyard Historic District, now stands in the parking lot of the Al Larson Boat Shop Complex. It is currently vacant. 

Photo courtesy Civic Enterprise Development LLC

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