If you hear "Giannini", you might think of Bank of America--especially if you're into corporate histories, because A. P. Giannini created the Bank of America as we know it.
Did you know that before there was a Bank of America, there was a Bank of Italy, founded by Giannini in 1904 in San Francisco? In fact, the Bank of Italy helped the city recover from the 1906 earthquake by providing loans for rebuilding. In 1923, Giannini placed its corporate headquarters right here in Los Angeles. After just five years, he merged his Bank of Italy with a small, local firm called Bank of America Los Angeles, and then changed the name of his banking chain. From 1930 on it's been Bank of America. The building itself has housed other companies, but of late it's stood abandoned.
Giannini Place, as the former corporate headquarters is now called, is a 12-story building at Olive and 7th Street, and as the Los Angeles Times reports in this story, it's about to be transformed from one of our top eyesores into a "hip hotel,"by Sydell Group.
Sydell Group recently bought the site for $30 million (according to the Times) and is already converting another structure--the Commercial Exchange Building on Olive and 8th, one block away--into the Freehand Hotel.
The Times story has links back to 1923 articles about the opening of the Bank of Italy headquarters, and also describes the plans for both the Freehand and Giannini Place hotel (there's no official name yet). It's an interesting read in itself--here's the link again--but it is also accompanied by a SLIDESHOW! Yay! No separate link--it's embedded right into the beginning of the article.
The pictures show that while columns and marble and ornate ceilings are still in place, there are lots of repairs to be done. And that there's a big ol' vault in the basement.
My black and white photo is from the Los Angeles Library's Herald Examiner collection. It was taken in 1941 and identifies the structure as the TransAmerica Building.