Esotouric Takes You “Inside the Dutch Chocolate Shop” On-demand Webinar

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Join Esotouric, L.A.‘s most eclectic sightseeing tour company as we take you behind an ugly metal grate to find something utterly magical in Downtown Los Angeles: Ernest Batchelder’s famed Dutch Chocolate Shop.

Your hosts Kim Cooper and Richard Schave have a special relationship with the Dutch Chocolate Shop, leading tour guests into the space for more than a decade, and having been given special access by the owner to explore every inch of the building in search of clues to its rich cultural and architectural history. They also helped to bring a previously unknown tile mural, removed from the building’s walls decades ago, to the Pasadena Museum of History for inclusion in the 2017 exhibit “Batchelder: Tilemaker.”

In this webinar, you’ll get to know the secrets and mysteries of this fascinating structure, learn about the colorful characters who shaped it, get close to the tile to discover some hidden details, and to hear our hopes for the building’s future.

Los Angeles in the 1910s was a young metropolis with a taste for spectacle, a brand-new motion picture industry and a growing middle class hungry for excitement. Quinby and Petitfils’ cultured Chocolate Shop chain specialized in attractive dining rooms geared to the feminine shopping and after theater set—but Chocolate Shop #4 (1914) was special.

Here the proprietors spent a small fortune commissioning architects Plummer and Feil to craft a fantastical Old World environment, where elaborate medieval brick groin vaults framed a pre-modern Dutch village in three dimensional tile murals, each huge scene fired in Batchelder’s Arroyo Seco backyard. A pair of life sized sculpted Dutch children blew illuminated soap bubbles, and a wee tile windmill stood atop the soda fountain. The cool, dark tile offered a respite from the blazing California sun, and a fantasy environment in which to sample delicious treats with your pals.

But despite the success of the Chocolate Shop’s local dining rooms and a brisk souvenir trade in bon bons packed in signature decorated California redwood boxes, the chain sputtered out in the mid 1920s.

Future owners couldn’t bring themselves to redecorate, which is how this masterpiece of the Arts & Crafts style came to be home to an influential health food restaurant, a beloved cafeteria, and most recently a funky, multi-vendor swap meet, before emerging back into public consciousness as a decorative art masterpiece in an incredible moment during one of our Downtown tours.

And did we mention the weird quack medical clinic on the top floor?

This webinar is an illustrated lecture packed with original photographs that will bring the Dutch Chocolate Shop and Ernest Batchelder’s Arroyo Seco tile studio to life on your digital device. And you’ll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app.

After the presentation, Kim and Richard will answer your questions about the Dutch Chocolate Shop, Batchelder tile, Downtown Los Angeles and their passion for historic preservation, so get ready to be a part of the show.

So, tune in and discover the incredible history of Los Angeles, with the couple whose passion for the city is infectious.

About Esotouric: As undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave inexplicably hated one other on sight. (Perhaps less inexplicably, their academic advisor believed they were soul mates). A chance meeting 18 years later proved much more agreeable. Richard wooed Kim with high level library database access, with which she launched the 1947project true crime blog, highlighting a crime a day from the year of The Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel slayings. The popular blog’s readers demanded a tour, and then another. The tour was magical, a hothouse inspiring new ways for the by-then-newlyweds to tell the story of Los Angeles. Esotouric was born in 2007 with a calendar packed with true crime, literary, architecture and rock and roll tours. Ever since, it has provided a platform for promoting historic preservation issues (like the Save the 76 Ball campaign and the landmarking of Charles Bukowski’s bungalow), building a community of urban explorers (including dozens of free talks and tours under the umbrella of LAVA) and digging ever deeper into the secret heart of the city they love.

Rights and permissions: By attending an Esotouric webinar, you acknowledge that the entirety of the presentation is copyrighted, and no portion of the video or text may be reproduced in any fashion.

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