The Tamale, 6421 Whittier Boulevard, circa 1920s (photo: LAPL Collection)
Once upon a time, Southern California was dotted with the daffiest buildings ever slapped up in a frantic, entrepreneurial weekend: shaped like dirigibles and oranges, ice cream tubs and puppies, flower pots and hot dogs, tipis, old shoes, oil cans, owls, chili bowls, coffee pots, bowler hats, whales and donuts, they beckoned to passing motorists with a powerful whimsy.
UPDATE – May 1, 2013
Encouraging news just received via email from Supervisor Gloria Molina:
“Thank you for sharing your views regarding the “tamal” building located at 6421 Whittier Boulevard. I, too, fondly remember it and other iconic structures that lined Whittier Boulevard, and I agree that the structure is worthy of historic designation.
I am pleased to share with you that in the near future, I intend to establish a Los Angeles County ordinance to provide certain benefits for buildings designated as historic; please know that the property owner’s consent will be required. My staff is engaging the building’s owner to determine if there is interest, and if needed we will work with future property owners. If enacted, this ordinance will preserve this noteworthy edifice for future generations to enjoy, and the property owner will receive tax credits to be utilized for the structure’s maintenance. For further information about the proposed ordinance, please contact Phillip Estes with the County Department of Regional Planning at (213) 974-6425. I also encourage you to share your thoughts with the building’s owners, Sky Realty Investments, which is located at 5191 Fox Hills Avenue, Buena Park, 90621.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this essential issue.”
Sincerely, GLORIA MOLINA, Supervisor, First District
UPDATE – May 28, 2013
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to pass Mills Act tax breaks today. This is a voluntary program for property owners who want to preserve landmarks in their care. A full Historic Preservation Ordinance, which could protect unique, endangered structures like the Tamale on Whittier Boulevard, is still in the works. Today’s agenda is here.
UPDATE – September 18, 2013
On May 30, 2013, two days after the Board of Supervisors passed Mills Act tax breaks, the asking price of the Tamale was lowered to $435,000. On August 13, 2013, the price was further lowered to $399,900. On August 28, 2013, the property was removed from the market.
UPDATE – April 29, 2014 We created this video about The Tamale for the One Day in L.A. project. http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=93272767&force_embed=1&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00adef&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0
Tamale on Whittier Boulevard put up for sale (L.A. Observed, 4/24/13)
East Los Angeles’s Tamale-Shaped Building is Up For Sale (Curbed, 4/24/13)
Redevelopment might eat East LA’s giant tamale building (KPCC Off-Ramp, 4/25/13)
LA giant tamale building’s future uncertain (ABC-7 News, 4/25/13)
Supervisor Gloria Molina promises to help save East LA’s giant tamale building (KPCC Off-Ramp, 5/1/2013)
County Preservation Effort Could Save East LA Tamale Building (Curbed, 5/1/13)
Peel Away the Layers to Find East L.A.’s Giant Tamale (EGPNews, 5/2/2013)
Famoso tamal en peligro de extinción (Telemundo, 7/3/2013)
Tamale-shaped building at center of preservation dispute (Los Angeles Times, 5/23/2015)
Is East LA’s Giant Tamale Building Worth Saving? (Eater L.A., 5/26/15)
Historic tamale building in East L.A. wrapped in preservation dispute (Fox News Latino, 8/5/15)