Monday, May 3, 2010

Beverly Hills Mosaic

An LA Times story of March 4, 1956, announced the completion of the "two-story, $2,000,000 'home'" of Beverly Hills' Home Savings and Loan. A large picture topped the story, but if you've ever seen scanned Proquest photos, you'll know it isn't worth replicating--not too mention the fact that it's probably copyrighted. So my own humble pictures run here--taken with my new ultra-cheap-but-wonderful Kodak Easyshare camera.

The Times credits Millard Sheets with the entire design of the building and grounds, not just the mosaic. Sheets' goal was to create a 'dateless' structure--not something that would scream "1950s!" in years to come. I think he succeeded.

The exterior is Roman travertine, the molding Italian marble, and the mosaic Italian glass terrerae. Renzo Fenci designed the eight-foot-tall statues representing the timelessness and indestructibility of the family. Those are Italian too, cast in Florence. Wonder what the freight charges were on two tons of bronze back then? And given that vandals are stealing the bronze headstones of veterans from cemeteries, I wonder what's in place to protect the statues today?

Washington Mutual acquired the Home Savings & Loan branches in March 1998 for $10.1 billion. The Times in 1998 stated that many folks dismissed the Home Savings buildings as obsolete and inefficient. This is only twelve years ago--but it seems that no one considered the mosaics and other artwork worthy of official protection. If Washington Mutual had been more cavalier (fortunately, they weren't), they could've trashed it all. Here's a quote from that story: "But many of the distinctive Home Savings murals will probably be lost as the branches are recycled for other uses."

We're a little more protective of our patrimonie today, aren't we? Aren't we?

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