|Looking south on Main from 4th Street.|
|Fifth and Main looking south in 1930, Los Angeles Public Library. Click to "embiggen"|
|Fifth and Main, 1972, looking south. LAPL|
|Fifth Street, just east of Main, 1971 LAPL|
One of my favorite pieces of art is this decorative weathervane atop the roof of a building on the southeast corner of Main Street and Fifth Street. An orb aflame with flickering rays, and are there figures there or is it just twisting sun-flares that writhe and flash against the sky?
Look closer. Are there birds? Dancers? Leaves? Dragons? A curved crescent moon arcs across the orb. It's all mounted on a crowned dome above the round corner bay.
The building it stands on is one of the oldest buildings still remaining in downtown Los Angeles. Known as the "Charnock block," it was built in 1888 as a hotel with retail space on the ground floor.
It's so easy to ignore, but when you do take a look at it, you suddenly realize what an extraordinary building it is. The corner has a round bay window, and on either street side, rows of arched oriel bay windows alternate with sash windows. On the Fifth Street side, as the hill drops away, small retail spaces are arranged in step-like procession along the sidewalk.
Oddly, it is not on the list of Designated Historic-Cultural Monuments by the city of Los Angeles.
The building is known as the Pershing Hotel, and it is among the many remodeled hotels and apartment buildings developed and managed as supportive housing for the homeless by the Skid Row Housing Trust. I contacted their office to see if they knew anything about the weathervane.
Through the Trust's External Affairs director, I was referred to Alice Callaghan, one of the founders of the Skid Row Housing Trust. She now runs Las Familias del Pueblo, a community service organization serving the Latino workers in Los Angeles's downtown garment industry.
|The Charnock block, 5th St. side, 1965 LAPL|
But sadly, Adam is no longer alive. I was able to find out more about Adam on the internet.
Born in Connecticut in 1958, educated at Pomona College, Adam lived and worked in downtown Los Angeles, and examples of his work are still on the streets downtown. Tragically, he suffered from bi-polar disease and took his own life in 2000. You can read about him HERE.
I noticed "Sun Moon Dome" a few years ago, but only today did I learn its story. What took me so long to ask? Look around you. What stories are there for the asking in your world?
All historic photos are from the Los Angeles Public Library. Click to "embiggen."