Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bullocks Wilshire

The Bullocks-Wilshire Department Store, which opened in Los Angeles in 1929, was one of the country's first major Art Deco buildings. The proprietors built Bullocks on Wilshire Boulevard about 3 miles west of downtown Los Angeles with the expectation that consumers would travel by automobile to shop at the upscale department store.

The main entrance to the store faced the back parking lot where shoppers arrived by automobile:

The structure is built with reinforced concrete clad in terracotta tiles and decorated with copper detailing.

The copper-topped tower is 241 feet high (74 meters):

Here is a detail of a copper spandrel (a decorative panel between windows):
Carved terracotta tiles over the building's Wilshire entrance:

Bullocks-Wilshire operated as a successful department store for 5 decades until the 1980s when the owners sold the business. The store stayed open until 1993 when it declared bankruptcy and closed its doors. A year later, in 1994, Southwestern Law School purchased the building and renovated it for use as its law school library. Southwestern did an excellent job with its renovation and the building is currently in great condition with many of its original decorative details intact. Here are some views of the main lobby:

The ceiling over the main parking lot entrance is decorated with a mural entitled "The Spirit of Transportation" by Herman Sachs. The mural includes images of steam trains, ocean liners, planes, and giant blimps:

The building's silhouette with its elegant vertical lines and tapering tower is quite beautiful:
Bullocks-Wilshire is located at Wilshire and Westmoreland (2 blocks east of Vermont). Southwestern Law School opens the building for architectural tours once a year. If you are interested in Art Deco architecture, check out my earlier posts on downtown L.A. and the Wiltern Theater.

View Bullocks Wilshire in a larger map


  1. Great shots. I'll have to put this on my long list of places to go. :)

  2. When the store closed, they had a huge sale open to the public. I got to wander into back rooms and old offices and see everything. But I did not take a camera with me. My bad, indeed!