Rosslyn Hotel | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Richard Langendorf

Rosslyn Hotel

The Rosslyn Hotel (1914) and the Rosslyn Hotel Annex (1923) across the street were built, owned, and operated by the entrepreneurial Hart brothers, whose name is represented by the iconic heart-shaped sign on the roof. They both started their careers in hospitality as bellhops at the Old Natick House in the center of downtown Los Angeles, and they later managed the property with their father after he purchased it.

The New Rosslyn Hotel, as it was originally named, was built next to an older hotel called the Rosslyn, for the staggering sum of one million dollars (hence the signage, Million Dollar Hotel). The annex was constructed across the street nine years later, and both buildings were designed by John Parkinson in the popular Beaux Arts style.

Its luxurious décor and amenities (such as ice water from the tap and ventilated phone booths) were worthy of a grand hotel, while its prices made it affordable to the average traveler.

At one time it was the largest hotel on the Pacific Coast, with 1,100 rooms and 800 baths between the two structures.

When the New Rosslyn opened in 1914, newspaper reviews described a lobby adorned with marble, mahogany, and art glass, as well as a grand 450-person dining room. The lobby originally featured an enormous five-panel mural by artist Einar Peterson depicting the history of Los Angeles. The mural has since been obscured by a drop ceiling, and years of insensitive alterations and neglect have covered over or destroyed much of the interior decoration.

Despite its once-celebrated status in the downtown hotel industry, as the character of the neighborhood began to change, so did the Rosslyn. It went dark for some years before the Frontiera family purchased it in the late 1970s, renaming it the Frontier. The family’s leadership and support were instrumental in fostering the art gallery scene that is now a staple of the area. Renamed the Rosslyn Lofts in 2006, it currently provides both market-rate lofts and low-income housing.

Photo courtesy Thomas Safran & Associates and Coalition for Responsible Community Development

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