Ghost Building: The El Mirador Apartments

Designed by theater architect S. Charles Lee and erected in 1929, El Mirador Apartments is one of the handsomest structures along an architecturally distinguished stretch of Fountain, just below the Sunset Strip.

The criminally minded among you might recall it as the site of model Judy Dull’s kidnapping by 1950s serial killer Harvey Glatman–a narrative included on our new Esotouric crime bus tour, Hollywood!

Recent years have been, if possible, more heartbreaking for El Mirador. The building fell into the hands of notorious landlord Jerome Nash, whose low opinion of his tenants as a very young man led to the creation of the Ellis Act, the law which is now being used to displace thousands of renters across California. In theory, the Ellis Act is meant to be used by small property owners when they want to get out of the rental business and out from under prohibitive rent control obligations. In reality, corporate property owners use Ellis to remove affordable rentals from the market, flipping attractive buildings into more profitable condos and hotels.

Not Jerome Nash, though. He apparently applied the Ellis Act to the El Mirador simply because he didn’t like his tenants or the City of West Hollywood reminding him that historic landmark buildings are supposed to be maintained safely and with period appropriate windows that don’t rain glass down onto the sidewalk. There were threats to tear El Mirador down, or turn it into some kind of swinger’s party pad. All the tenants were evicted. Five years and more have ticked away, the legal window after which an Ellis-ing landlord can do whatever they wish with their property. And yet El Mirador still stands vacant, boarded up with weeds growing on the steps, a haunted house in the heart of West Hollywood, the physical manifestation of one sick landlord’s contempt for his tenants.

You can see the lifeless building as it looks today in the photos below. Follow the sad tale of the El Mirador in this series of posts from Curbed LA. And dig into Jerome Nash’s dark heart in this LA Times feature on his family lawsuits. Or join us on the Hollywood! tour to see for yourself and hear of Judy Dull’s terrible fate.

The Garfield Building, a seldom-seen Art Deco treasure

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Detail, Garfield elevator clock

For many years, the only way to see any part of the interior of Claud Beelman’s magnificent Art Deco Garfield Building (1928-30), a National Register and Los Angeles landmark, was through a grubby glass door behind a metal grate.

Despite a million dollar restoration in the 1970s, the Garfield has long been locked up tight, only accessible to vandals and pigeons. But the revival of interest in Downtown architecture has finally stirred the landlords to place the property on the market. Over the summer, the ugly plastic panels come down off the upper first story, and we noticed some intriguing activity inside the lobby.

And when we saw that this door to paradise was open, we couldn’t resist taking a peek. Behold! All this can be yours! (And soon, we fervently hope, more freely accessible to the beauty seeking citizens of the world.)

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