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Golden State Insurance building declared a historical monument


LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The Los Angeles City Council voted to make the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company office building the city’s newest historic-cultural monument.

The building at the corner of Adams Boulevard and Western Avenue was built in 1949 by famed architect Paul Williams in the Late Modern style.

Williams was the first Black certified architect west of the Mississippi River and served on the city’s first Planning Commission in 1920.

“You cannot live in Los Angeles and specifically South L.A. and not be aware of the Golden State Insurance Building,” said Councilman Bernard Parks, whose district includes the building.

“It housed the first black insurance company west of the Mississippi. It also created what was viewed in the 1930s and 40s as basically black royalty in the city with the Hudson family and the Williams family.”

It is particularly important to protect the building now because of development on an adjacent lot, Parks said.

The Golden State Mutual Life building met three of the necessary criteria to become a historic monument:
* Being a good representation of an architectural style worthy of study
* Having been designed by a master architect
* Rpresenting the cultural and economic history of the city and nation.

Daniel Paul, an architectural historian and member of the Los Angeles Conservancy who wrote the commission’s report on the building, said he has worked on numerous historic monument applications.

“I can’t think of any one of them that has a historic significance that is so integral to its community, that is so special to its community,” Paul said.

The building’s new status also preserves about 260 square-feet of murals depicting Black history in California from 1527-1949.

“This would be one of the few historic cultural monuments in the city that associated with essentially nonwhite history,” said Laura Myers of the West Adams Heritage Association. “Most historic preservation has not recognized the contributions of many minorities throughout the country.”

By Richie Duchon | City News Service