When the Office of Historic Resources received our nomination to make Times Mirror Square a protected Los Angeles landmark in June, notification was made to property owner Onni Group and to the newspaper’s new owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong that the historic resources described in the nomination were not to be disturbed, pending determination of landmark status. We understand that communication came not only from the Office of Historic Resources, but from the Mayor’s Office as well.
We were particularly concerned, because Dr. Soon-Shiong was giving interviews talking about the museum of L.A. Times history he hoped to build in the paper’s new headquarters in El Segundo, specifically mentioning wanting to move the enormous aluminum globe out of its namesake Globe Lobby.
We heard that workers had measured the globe and had an idea for how to get it off its art deco base and into a moving truck. And when we asked a conservationist who had worked on the lobby’s restoration, they told us that there was no way to remove the stone and metal base without destroying it. The base, too, is an historic resource listed in the nomination.
So we felt great relief once the nomination was received and everyone who might mess with the lobby understood it was not to be touched.
With the first hearing before the Cultural Heritage Commission just five days away, The Globe Lobby was supposed to be safe. But this morning, we saw posts on Times’ employee social media stating that the iconic eagle sculpture by Gutzon Borglum, which had survived the 1910 bombing of the Times and was one of the listed historic resources in the landmark nomination, had been removed.
We raced downtown to see for ourselves, and through the dark glass of the Globe Lobby doors found that the situation was even worse: the eagle was gone, and so were the sculpted busts of the newspaper’s first four publishers (General Otis, Harry Chandler, Norman Chandler and Otis Chandler). The Globe is alone, in a defaced space that looks like a plucked chicken.
We don’t know for certain if this is true, but the buzz on social media is that the sculptures have been removed by the Los Angeles Times and taken to the city of El Segundo.* This is a direct violation of Los Angeles’ historic preservation ordinance, and an action that shows a profound disrespect for the newspaper’s history, for the public and for the law.
Has respect for the rule of law ever mattered more than in 2018?
When we go before the Cultural Heritage Commission on Thursday, we will be advocating for the preservation of buildings that are among the most significant in Southern California. We have limited time in which to abstract the book-length nomination, calling out the important people, civic campaigns, industries and ideas that originated at Times Mirror Square, as well as the compound’s architectural significance. It pains us to have to dedicate some of that precious time to telling the Commissioners about this vandalism. It pains us still more to think that the new owner of the Los Angeles Times would do such a thing.
Please join us, through an email or in person, as we speak for the stone, the neon, the glass and the Globe… before it’s too late!
* update: Laura J. Nelson of the Los Angeles Times tweeted this photo, captioned “The @latimes eagle has flown the coop in downtown L.A. A security guard took this photo over the weekend.”
Oh no! What is the typical outcome or side that the commission takes when going up against the powerful and wealthy elite? Will the situation dissolve with the purchaser removing these historical artifacts indefinitely or will it resolve to them returning them from where they belong?
This is going to be an interesting test case. Removal of historic resources from a landmark is a rare thing, and in the past the city has struggled to deal with it effectively. In the case of newly-landmarked Bukowski Court, historic windows were removed during renovations by an owner who apparently was not instructed that this was not allowed; someone complained to Office of Historic Resources, and they required replacement windows similar to those that had been removed and destroyed. On Alvarado Terrace, an owner sold off the stained glass in the landmarked (local and National Register) Raphael House and only got a small fine and no requirement to return or replace the glass. The Times is different because the resources are unique and well-known, and the removal happened during the landmarking process. Stay tuned!
Kim, thank you so much for educating us all on this!! I am staying tuned!
Does anyone know what happened to a large, colorful, mural created by Disney artist Hank Porter that was on display somewhere in that building? Porter created the piece in February 1950. The art features an image of Donald Duck sitting at a typewriter. To his right is a cartoon character editor reading a paper that has as its headline, “By the Associated Press.” The editor is standing atop a compass and his head is a globe with longitude and latitude lines. The item is labelled “ACCURACY” and included in the art above Donald’s head are definitions of the words “Accuracy,” and, “Accurate.” I have images of the finished art and of Porter working on it at his desk at Disney’s. I’m writing Porter’s biography and am interested in knowing where this mural was displayed, and if anyone knows of its current disposition. I can be reached at waltdisneyresearch at yahoo.com
What a great question, David. I’ll share your question with building historian Darrell Kunitomi, in hopes that he might know.