Iowa and Illinois 2019

I went to Iowa in July 2019 to see my parents. While I was there I traveled around and saw some sights with my old Iowa friend Bob Graef.

McBride Hall is on the University of Iowa Campus. I’m a graduate of the University of Iowa so it’s like going home. McBride Hall is located on the Pentacrest which consists of four classical buildings surrounding Iowa’s old capital. The old capital was built in 1846.

This is McBride Hall. I think it’s beautiful. It was originally called the Natural Science’s Building.

In early 1897 the University of Iowa’s North Hall, which housed the university’s library, burned to the ground and took the library with it. Four years later, in 1901, the university’s South Hall went up in flames. As a result of the fires, the Iowa state legislature, which oversaw the University of Iowa campus, decided to build fireproof buildings for the university and selected the Des Moines based architectural firm of Proudfoot & Bird for the work. [That’s an amazing firm name.] According to the University of Iowa website, Proudfoot & Bird were influenced by Chicago’s Columbian Exposition held in 1893, and as a result the firm tended to design in the neoclassical style. The Natural Science Building cost $313,872 and was completed in 1908. In 1934, it was renamed McBride Hall in honor of Thomas McBride who was the University of Iowa’s president from 1914-1916.

This terrazo floor is inside the front door. In the vestibule.

William Thomas Proudfoot. Photo from Find A Grave.

Proudfoot & Bird were a well-known, mid-western firm in the last quarter of the 19th century and first quarter of the 20th century. Proudfoot was born May 2, 1860 and died June 8, 1928. Proudfoot’s obituary in 1928 states, “During the last thirty years Mr. Proudfoot designed most of the schools and office buildings in Des Moines and practically all the buildings of the state colleges at Iowa City, Ames and Cedar Falls.” Proudfoot was 68 when he died. He suffered two paralytic strokes before his death. Flags at the University of Iowa were flown at half-staff out of respect for his contributions to the campus. He is buried in Indianola, Iowa.

George Washington Bird. Proudfoot & Bird worked together in Wichita, Kansas from 1885-1891.
Photo from Find A Grave.

Proudfoot & Bird were partners until 1912 when Bird retired. According to a National Register for Historic Places document, Bird was “burnt out” from all the work “especially the Polk County Court House” which was completed in 1906. Bird moved to California in 1920 because of an interest in motion pictures. Bird was born on September 1, 1854 and died on September 7, 1953. He died at his home, which was located at 832 S. Kenmore Avenue in Los Angeles. He was 99 years old. He is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That’s a long way from Wichita.

My friend Bob took this picture while we were in McBride Hall. He sent it to me with the caption, “Tony discusses evolution with a museum guide.” I don’t look as dignified as Mr. Proudfoot or Mr. Bird. Maybe, it’s the T-shirt? I should dress more formally when I go places.

Later that same day we drove up to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to see:

Louis Sullivan’s People’s Savings Bank

This image is from the January 1912 issue of Architectural Record.

Me, trying to contain my excitement. Shouldn’t it be historic not historical?

This is so cool. It’s outside, on the front of the building, about a foot above the sidewalk.

There’s an exhibit inside the building on the way to the restroom. That’s Mr. Sullivan. All hail Louis Sullivan!

Montgomery Schuyler wrote an article for the Architectural Record regarding Louis Sullivan and the People’s Savings Bank. It appeared in the January 1912 issue.

In the article, Schuyler stated that when Henry Hobson Richardson was at his peak most architects, in America, were interested in his work. While that was true of Louis Sullivan too there was one major difference between the two of them. Regarding Richardson, Schuyler said architects studied his work and were interested in what he was doing because they sought to see how they could adapt what Richardson did to their own projects. American architects’ admiration for Richardson’s work resulted in a large inventory of Richardson Romanesque buildings across America. Louis Sullivan’s work, on the other hand, was also followed by architects but the difference was that architects did not look at Sullivan’s work as something they could adapt. Instead they were interested in Sullivan’s work simply because of the beauty of the buildings he was creating.

Schuyler then quoted the Western Architect and stated that none of Sullivan’s pupils had created anything within Sullivan’s sphere.

[Note: What follows is “word for word” from Schuyler’s article. I think it’s clunky writing but it still makes his point.]

“In the October number of the Architectural Record there were illustrated in conjunction a country house by the master and another by the pupil. The Western Architect of Minneapolis was moved by the conjunction to remark that while Mr. Sullivan’s genius “permits him to do the most daring things in design and ‘get away it,’” of his followers “none have gone so far into the realm of the picturesque, or failed so signally in the production of livable houses, as Frank Lloyd Wright.”

Poor Mr. Wright. It is obvious that during Wright’s lifetime critics had a love/hate relationship with his work. It could not have been easy for Wright to read this type of criticism. It probably gnawed at him.

Schuyler wrote that no one could do what Sullivan could do. Schuyler strangely overlooked Purcell & Elmslie who worked in the Midwest and produced over sixty Sullivan-esque homes between 1910 and 1921. It could be that Purcell & Elmslie weren’t well known at the time or didn’t have the reputation, then, that they have now. George Grant Elmslie was certainly a pupil of Sullivan and even worked for him.

Schuyler stated that the People’s Savings Bank is designed from the inside outward and that the exterior is merely an envelope that contains the striking interior. He went on to write that many people would find the simplicity of the building’s exterior surprising. After praising the bank’s interior, Schuyler wrote that the People’s Savings Bank, like the Farmers Bank of Owatonna before it, had become a pilgrimage site for individuals who admired Sullivan’s work.

An original light fixture.  They seem a little flashy for a bank in Iowa.

The space is occupied by a restaurant now. The building was flooded in 2008.

Looking in the same direction as the previous photograph. From Architectural Record.

A Louis Sullivan column.

One of the columns is featured in Architectural Record.

There are murals in the banking room. The murals are by Allen E. Philbrick. He was a local artist. There is an image of Philbrick at the People’s Savings Bank. Next to his photo it states Philbrick attended the Art Institute in Chicago and then taught at that institution for 50 years. It’s difficult to get a “head on” or good photograph of the murals because of the big light fixtures.

This is looking in the same direction as the previous photo. From Architectural Record.

You can eat in the vault.

Two more interior views above and below. From Architectural Record.

A light fixtures outside the bank. I don’t remember these light fixtures being here the last time I visited the site. There were light fixtures outside the bank when it was built.

I think these original light fixtures have been copied and the copies are what is in front of the bank now. The top is different in many ways. From Architectural Record.

The furniture looks like it was bought from a Sears catalog. Architectural Record.

I wonder if there was a woman’s rest room or if all the employees in the bank were men. Architectural Record.

Decorative stonework on the exterior.

An exterior light fixture.

A rendering of the building. I want it!

The People’s Savings Bank is very close to where I was staying. The GPS knows how long we were there. You know these computers are going to kill all of us one day.

A couple of days later we drove down to Springfield, Illinois to see:

Lincoln’s Home and Tomb

YAY, it’s the National Park Service! I’m glad they’re on the job.

The whole area is meticulously maintained. I think they sweep the sandy street at night to make it look perfect in the morning.

According to the National Park Service this is the only home the Lincolns ever owned.

Our tour guide.

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd married on November 16, 1842. They lived in a boarding house for the first year of their marriage and then bought this house in 1844. It is located in Springfield, Illinois at the corner of Jackson and Eighth Streets. The Lincolns paid $1,200 for the house. They also gave the seller a $300 lot they owned. The Lincolns lived in this home for sixteen years until the family moved to the White House in Washington, D.C. The National Park Service guide said the Lincolns stored their furnishings and household goods and rented out the home during Lincoln’s presidency. The family intended to return to the home but after Lincoln’s assassination Mary Todd Lincoln wouldn’t go back. Eventually, most of the furnishing were sold at a public auction. The stove in the kitchen and a writing desk in Lincoln’s bedroom are two of the objects that belonged to the Lincolns.

In 1887, Robert Lincoln donated the home to the state of Illinois with some restrictions. One was the public would be able to tour the home for free. Consequently, there is no admission fee even today. Parking is $2 for two hours. In 1972 the home was transferred to the National Park Service.

A section of the parlor on the first floor.

Lincoln’s bedroom.

The desk Lincoln used. It’s small for a big man.

Mary’s bedroom. It’s a comfortable looking room. I could happily retire there at night.

The stove Mary Todd Lincoln cooked upon.

By the time we drove down to Lincoln’s tomb the sky was overcast and it was windy.

It’s a well maintained cemetery…

…with a pretty impressive tomb.

Evidently, it’s good luck to rub Lincoln’s nose. That’s my Iowa friend Bob Graef. I’ve known him practically all my life.

The National Park Service has an informative internet site regarding Lincoln’s Tomb. The Park Service says almost immediately after the citizens of Springfield, Illinois heard that Lincoln’s body would be returned to his hometown a fund to build a tomb or monument for him was initiated. Lincoln’s body spent six years in two different receiving vaults after being shipped from Washington, D.C. and wasn’t immediately interred in the tomb because the tomb was unfinished. In 1871, his body was placed in a crypt in the still unfinished tomb. Finally, in 1874, the tomb was dedicated with former President U.S. Grant in attendance. At this point, Lincoln’s body was interred in a sarcophagus. The website does not specify if the sarcophagus was above ground or buried. I am guessing it was above ground because the sarcophagus ended up being a temporary resting place again. Two years later, in 1876, two cash strapped men attempted to steal Lincoln’s body with the goal of holding the body for ransom. When the plot was uncovered, Lincoln’s body was moved and buried in an unspecified location within the tomb. The Lincoln Monument Association thought it would be best if no one knew the exact location. The vault room is large so even if the body was buried in the vault room unless a grave robber knew the body’s exact location it would be difficult to find and steal.

In 1901, Lincoln’s body was re-interred in the sarcophagus (above ground?) but Robert Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son, objected and the state of Illinois listened. Lincoln’s body is now buried in “a cement vault 10 feet below the surface of the burial room.” The National Park Service does not specify if the body is beneath the cenotaph or in some other location in the room. The cenotaph is the large, red, 7-ton block of marble with Lincoln’s name & his life and death dates.

In 1930-31, the interior of the tomb was reconfigured to allow visitors the opportunity to enter the tomb and see the cenotaph up close.

The entrance to the tomb.

This is the first thing you see when you walk inside.

The tomb is a big circle. You enter to the right of the statue above and walk around. At the midway point is the cenotaph. Along the way are statues of Lincoln by various sculptors. It’s very tasteful and restrained.

She’s there too.

The interior of the tomb wasn’t accessible when it was originally built so people would come to the rear of the tomb and look through this window at Lincoln’s final resting place.

Grant Wood

I’ve always liked Grant Wood’s paintings. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has a number of them and so does the Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa. The Figge is housed in a David Chipperfield building.

Self-Portrait. (1932-1941) This self portrait is at the Figge.

The Cedar Rapids Museum has a permanent exhibit.

Woman with Plants. (1929) The woman in the image is Grant Wood’s mother.

Young Corn. (1931)

Overmantle Decoration. (1930)

A bench Grant Wood designed.

The door to Wood’s studio which was located at 5 Turner Alley.

Close up of door glass.

Adoration of the Home. (1921-1922) This was a commercial commission. It was used in a local real estate developer’s housing campaign.

This is my favorite image of Grant Wood. He looks very modern and yet looks like a beatnik too. The photo is from the 1920s. Photo from R. Tripp Evans’ book on Grant Wood.

Grant Wood painted American Gothic in 1930 and died on February 12, 1942. He was fifty when he died. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. In his final days Wood was still somewhat optimistic about his future and said he wanted to sell his Iowa City home and move to Palm Springs. For his new home Wood would need a servant so he asked his sister Nan “to be on the lookout for an Oriental houseboy.”

I had a great trip to Iowa. Bob is the perfect traveling companion because of his good disposition and his fine photography skills. I’ve used many of his photographs in this post.



Bird, George Washington.

Evans, R. T. (2010) Grant Wood. New York: Knopf

Legler, D. (2006). At home on the prairie; the houses of Purcell & Elmsie. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Lincoln Home.

Lincoln’s Tomb.

McBride Hall.

Proudfoot & Bird.

Proudfoot, William Thomas.

Schuyler, M. (1912, January). The People’s Savings Bank. Architectural Record, 31(1), 45-56.

Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings: Lincoln Tomb.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Los Angeles City Archives Tour

I went on a tour of the Los Angeles City Archives recently. I’m in search of information and photographs for my next book which is also about Southern California architects.

The archives are in a Brutalist’s building on a sketchy street. [translation: I was apprehensive about parking my car on the street.] Those concrete L-shaped forms are balconies.

This is the view from the third floor balcony looking west.

I’m including this because it states the architects’ names (L.W. Davidson & Associates), who I’ve never heard of before, and the year the building was completed (1981).

There was a nice outdoor eating area for employees on the way to the archives.

This is the unassuming entrance.

Everyone who took the tour seemed to be doing research for a book.

There were not a lot of artifacts on display but I liked this one. It was from the Rose Parade to the city of Los Angeles.

Certain items are held in the vault. This is the vault door.

These are in the vault.

This is the kind of information in the registry of licenses.

These items are also in the vault. There are rows and rows and rows and rows and rows of them.

All the papers from the cities that were annexed by Los Angeles including Eagle Rock, Venice and Hollywood are housed in the vault.

Most of the archives are not housed in the vault but rather on steel shelving that goes almost up to the ceiling.

Here’s another view halfway down one of those long aisles.

This was found on the side of the road by Tom LaBonge and donated to the city.

One of the huge (6 feet by 8 feet?) old photographs of Los Angeles that the archive holds. In the upper center is a long stretch of green space. That’s where Disney Hall, The Broad Museum and other buildings would be built. You can see the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion just to the right of the green space.

A more recent view of the city but there’s no Caltrans’ Building yet.

Michael Holland is the city archivist and he led the tour. He did a great job and I enjoyed it very much. Hopefully, they’ll have some material I can use in my next book.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.



Published in: on June 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Los Angeles Downtown News interview

The Downtown News interviewed me in conjunction with my book. The interview turned out great!

Here is a link to the article in The Downtown News:


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on June 12, 2019 at 7:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Frederic Roehrig’s Hotel Green

The Hotel Green, which is also known as Castle Green, had an open house on June 2, 2019. The architect of the hotel is Frederic Roehrig.

This is the brochure handed out at the event.

It has all the information you would ever need to know about the Green Hotel.

The hotel looks idyllic and inviting on this postcard.

Here’s an image of G.G. Green. This image is from Men of the Pacific Coast.

Here’s the hotel on a postcard.

The brochure was full of information.

You enter the grounds of the Hotel Green through this long sidewalk.

The building has a wonderful entrance. It doesn’t disappoint.

This is the lobby. Right inside the door.

The view from the first floor landing of the staircase.

Looking into the lobby from the north.

Looking into the lobby from the south.

There are three large public rooms south of the lobby. This is one of them. It’s the Main Parlor.

This statue was located in the Moorish room. I want it.

The elevator wasn’t in use during the open house. I would have loved to ridden in it. For the experience, of course, but the building has six floors and the steps were exhausting after my initial excitement.

Only one condo had a sign posted with the words “no photography.” Even so I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures inside people’s residences so I didn’t take any.

The doors to the condos are very simple. I like them.

There was a display case with Hotel Green artifacts and this was one of them. Is it a chamber pot?

This was also in the case. I want this plate.

On the first floor landing was this beautiful print of the establishment.

On the top floor was this wonderful light fixture.

The east building was torn down. It looks out of place to me in this postcard view. Maybe, because it’s built right up to the sidewalk and the massing of the building is too overwhelming?

Here’s another very pretty view on a postcard.

I found this image in Western Architect. It’s the same image that’s on one of the previous postcards.



Men of the Pacific Coast: 1902-1903. (1903). San Francisco: The Pacific Art Company.

Green Hotel. (1905, December). Western Architect, (4)12.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on June 6, 2019 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Society of Architectural Historians book event

I had a book event, sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians, at the Santa Monica Public Library. It was held on May 19, 2019. The architectural historians posted an article about my event on their website.

They also included an article about my book event in their newsletter.

The event was held at the Santa Monica Public Library. See the photo below.

Courtesy the Santa Monica Public Library archives. Moore Ruble & Yudell are the architects of the building.

The library created very nice handouts for the event.

The library even advertised my presentation in their elevator. How cool!

That’s me at the event.

There was a good turnout too. Maybe, 50 or 60 people.

I was very happy with how the event turned out. Thanks Santa Monica Public Library for hosting the event and thank you Society of Architectural Historians for letting me speak to your organization.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on May 20, 2019 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Skylight Books author event

I had an author event at Skylight Books for my book Architects Who Built Southern California on May 5, 2019. Skylight Books is located at 1818 N. Vermont Ave. in East Hollywood.

Skylight books is housed in a great art deco building on a busy street.

A great mix of people showed up and I liked the people who came out for the event.

They had my books up behind the cashier’s counter. I need to be more animated in my photos. I look like I just woke up from a nap.

Here I am doing my presentation. That’s wonderful Harrison Albright up on the screen.

I enjoyed doing the event and I’m thankful for everyone who showed up. Thanks Skylight Books for hosting the event.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Published in: on May 3, 2019 at 6:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Last Bookstore book event

I had a book event at the Last Bookstore on April 24th at 7:30 p.m. It was for my book Architects Who Built Southern California.

The bookstore is located in the old Citizens National Bank building which opened in 1915.

The event SOLD OUT. I was amazed. I sold 85 books at this event. Super cool. I immortalized my “sold out” status by taking a picture of my computer screen.

People filling up the seats before the event began.

Me, before the event began. I’m starting to look like a Mexican version of Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinnati.

My slides and laptop were perfect but there were some challenges with the projector at the location. When I told my academic adviser about the slide show problems she said, “They weren’t there to see your slide show. They were there to see you.” I need her to walk around with me on a daily basis to boost my confidence.

I was amazed at how many people turned out.

Two students who used to work in the library I work in showed up at the event. I was thrilled to see them.

It’s at the corner of Fifth and Spring Streets.

It was a great event. I enjoyed being there and I’m thrilled to meet all these people who are just as excited about the subject of Southern California architecture as I am. Thanks to Tennessee for some of the pictures.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.


Published in: on April 24, 2019 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Robert B. Stacy-Judd’s Aztec Hotel

The Aztec Hotel, on Foothill Boulevard in Monrovia, opened on September 1, 1925. The building’s architect was Robert B. Stacy-Judd.

Photo taken in 2019.

Stacy-Judd was bigger than life. He wrote books, explored the jungles of Mexico and Central America, designed outlandish buildings and married three times. In the 1920s and 1930s he was like the fictional character Indiana Jones but when Stacy-Judd’s life was drawing to a close he lived alone, was broke and almost blind.

When the Aztec originally opened it was also known as the Monrovia Community Hotel.

According to David Gebhard’s book on the architect — Stacy-Judd was born in London on June 21, 1884. His father, Benjamin Stacy-Judd, was a victualer (a person licensed to sell liquor or someone who sells goods to sea going vessels) which, according to Stacy-Judd, meant his father spent a great deal of time away from home peddling goods. Stacy-Judd stated in an unpublished biography that his parents were very strict disciplinarians and adhered to a time-table for the fundamental aspects of life including waking up, meals and bedtime. What Stacy-Judd remembered most about his father was that he enjoyed strolling around London and his father often took him along.

Gebhard’s book states that Stacy-Judd’s education involved a stint at St. Paul’s School in Knightsbridge, London followed by three years at Campsil Glen boarding School in Scotland. He left Campsil Glen and enrolled at Acton College in London when he was about fourteen which would be in 1895. Gebhard states that despite his father’s disapproval Stacy-Judd responded to an advertisement for an architect’s assistant. The architect was James Thompson whose office was located in West-Cliff-on-the-Sea in Sussex. That was in 1901. Stacy-Judd studied under Thompson’s tutelage for four years and finished in 1905 or 1906. After leaving Thompson’s office Stacy-Judd worked for the Great Northern Railroad Company through 1907 then he held various positions before moving to Canada in 1911 and eventually Los Angeles in the winter of 1921/1922.*

Robert B. Stacy-Judd in 1932. Used with permission: Robert Stacy-Judd papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.

A 1920s article that caught my eye had the sub-heading, “Stacy-Judd and Bride to Explore Mayan Ruins in Yucatan with Dirigible.” The article announced that Stacy-Judd would marry Miss Betty Schofield who was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George L. Schofield of Almont Drive in Beverly Hills. The wedding ceremony would take place at the Stacy-Judd designed and Maya inspired First Baptist Church in Ventura (which can be seen on the cover of Gebhard’s book). At the ceremony, the bride wore a navy blue outfit and a corsage of pink camellias and lilies of the valley. She also wore a 2000 year old obsidian and jade pendant “taken from the famous Chicken Itza well in Yucatan, a gift of the bridegroom.”

This was obviously during that transitional archaeological period when explorers still looted some of the riches they found.

The story said after the wedding the two would venture to the Yucatan (for their honeymoon) and search for more treasures and hidden archaeological sites. Their Yucatan honeymoon entourage was scheduled to include a string of motor trucks, a small group of archaeologists, some motion picture cameramen and a small dirigible that could travel above the jungle’s forest.

One of the books Stacy-Judd wrote.

This copy was autographed by him.

The Aztec Hotel. The image is from Pacific Coast Architect.

In an article in Pacific Coast Architect, Stacy-Judd wrote about the design of the building, “As it is not entirely clear what the exact reason was for the peculiar medley of carved pieces, cubes, and the many quaint shapes forming some of the Maya panels, I did not duplicate any particular original panel of the temples, but assembled the curious units to my own fancy.”

He went on to say about the exterior, “The grouping of decorative ornament on the exterior was designed under difficulty. Cost, being a great factor, necessitated curtailment. Yet, there was a large surface to treat. To avoid spottiness, and yet form a continuity, created an aggravating problem. Balance was entirely discarded, as my theory was that the diversification of line would provide a mental link with the next group of ornament.”

Another photo from Pacific Coast Architect. Notice that the building is listed as the Monrovia Community Hotel.

The funding for the building was obtained through subscription. In a newspaper article titled High Budget Marks Set was this sentence, “The Aztec Hotel which is financed by the Community Hotel Corporation a company of citizens who raised the money by popular subscription…”

The hotel opened with a viewing (inspection), which was open to the general public, followed by a dinner-dance in the café which was by invitation only. The hotel was originally constructed with eight apartments and thirty-six rooms. It took almost a year to build and cost approximately $250,000.

Regarding the furnishings in the photographs below — it was reported that Barker Brothers craftsmen, “delved into the history of the ancient tribes of Yucatan and the lower Mexican peninsula and designed each piece of furniture specially to conform with some fancy of the Aztecs, Incas or Toltecs.”

Below are interior images of the lobby

The check-in desk or registration desk is that curved half-wall behind the trestle table.

The hotel is closed but I held my phone up to the front door and took this photograph. In the Pacific Coast Architect article Stacy-Judd said, “The three pendent electric fixtures in the ceilings are original conceptions of mine representing carved stone.”

Stacy-Judd along with Roy Seldon Price and S. Charles Lee, designed many of the homes in Beverly Ridge Estates which is located “above the home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and is less than a mile from the Beverly Hills Hotel.”

Stacy-Judd also designed a notable Masonic Temple at 5124 N. Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood and the Philosophical Research Center in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

In 1972 a reporter found Stacy-Judd living in his crumbling San Fernando Valley home — a home Stacy-Judd had designed forty years earlier. An apartment building sat on what used to be the front yard of the home so Stacy-Judd lived in the shadow of the apartment building. According to the reporter the interior was cluttered and stuffed with books, mementos and everything else someone would save over a lifetime. Stacy-Judd was 88 years old at this point and lived on Social Security and welfare aid for the blind. A couple, who had dealt with Stacy-Judd when he was younger and in better financial condition, felt sympathy for him and paid the taxes on his house and helped him with food purchases and his utilities.

The reporter asked Stacy-Judd about his loneliness and his life. This was Stacy-Judd’s response,

“I’ve often tried to figure out what happened…my wife…it was so long ago, I really don’t know. I wanted a family but it seems nature was against me, or the world was. I’ve always loved children and I’m very fond of women; I think they have more sympathy, their hearts are softer…

Now that I can’t see anything, it makes it a little difficult, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve had some rough times, but I don’t regret anything. It’s been a wonderful life.”

Stacy-Judd died three years later on February 10, 1975.

He’s buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.

I’m not sure what that quote means. There’s a Star Trek episode from 1967 titled “Tomorrow is Yesterday” but I don’t think that’s it. Anything is possible but I’m not seeing Stacy-Judd as a Trekkie.

For more information on Robert Stacy-Judd purchase David Gebhard’s book. That’s the cover above. Gebhard, who was one of the great architectural writers of Los Angeles, details Stacy-Judd’s life and work thoroughly even though his book is a mere 166 pages. Gebhard writes about Stacy-Judd’s fascination with Atlantis and how Stacy-Judd tried to link that mythical continent with the Maya culture. Strange but true. Gebhard also writes about Stacy-Judd’s obsession with creating an American architecture that was based on Maya architecture and looked like Maya architecture. An odd choice for an American architecture but that was what he championed. Stacy-Judd was a showman, like Frank Lloyd Wright, but unlike Wright, Stacy-Judd didn’t know when to cut his losses and move onto a new architectural style.

Stacy-Judd did leave us the Aztec Hotel, though, and for that strange little block in Monrovia we should all be grateful.


Architect takes bride in Ventura. (1932, February 13). Los Angeles Times, p. A3.

Beverly sites on the market. (1927, November 20). Los Angeles Times, p. E4.

Gebhard, D. Robert Stacy-Judd; Maya architecture and the creation of a new style. Santa Barbara: Capra Press. 1993.

High building marks set throughout district. (1924, November 9). Los Angeles Times, p. E1.

New hotel has opening in Monrovia. (1925, September 6). Los Angeles Times, p. F2.

Robert Stacy-Judd services scheduled. (1975, February 13). Los Angeles Times, p. E18.

Seiler, M. (1972, November 30). Reflections on a life of action. Los Angeles Times, p. E1-E5.

Stacy-Judd, R. (1926, November). Maya Architecture. Pacific Coast Architect, 30 (5), 26-31, 53, 57.

Stacy-Judd, R. B. The Ancient Mayas. Los Angeles: Murray & Gee. 1934.

Student of Aztec history will wed. (1932, February 8). Los Angeles Times, p. A1.


*A great deal happened during these eleven years according to Gebhard. Stacy-Judd designed numerous buildings in Canada including the Empire Theater in Edmonton, lived in Minnesota and North Dakota where he also designed buildings and was married to a woman named Anna Veronica in Minneapolis in 1917 that he later divorced in 1922.


My book from The History Press, Architects Who Built Southern California, was released on March 11, 2019. It’s 10 chapters with each chapter devoted to a different architect (or architectural firm) including: Harrison Albright, John Austin, Claud Beelman, Elmer Grey, Hudson & Munsell, A. C. Martin, Meyer & Holler, Julia Morgan, Morgan Walls & Clements and Alfred F. Rosenheim.

Hennessy & Ingalls Book Event

I did a book event (a forty minute presentation and a book signing) at Hennessy & Ingalls.

It’s on Santa Fe in the Arts District.

About fifteen people showed up and almost all of them bought books. YAY!

It went well but I didn’t take any pictures.  Kim Tashman took the pictures below. Thank you Kim!

I enjoyed every minute being there and the guys who work for Hennessy & Ingalls were great.

Thanks to everyone who showed up and to Hennessey & Ingalls for hosting the event. FYI: I am much younger than I appear in these photos.

Published in: on March 31, 2019 at 5:00 pm  Comments (2)  

Vroman’s Author Event

My book Architects Who Built Southern California was released on March 11, 2019 and I had an author event at Vroman’s in Pasadena, California on March 27th.

About thirty people showed up and they were all very nice.

I was a little nervous but everyone was attentive and appeared interested. It helped ease my apprehension.

This photo was taken by Vroman’s Jackie who coordinated my event. She was patient and calming and did a wonderful introduction that included a mention of my fiction book The Odd Fellows which is about the Chupacabra.

Vroman’s has been in Pasadena for a long time. I found this old article about Vroman’s in a 1919 issue of California Southland. That was a 100 years ago. I want all of the furniture in the photograph including the loving cup and the lamp.



(1919, April-May). In a book lover’s eyrie. California Southland, 1(4), 14.


He’s a party dog bought at Vroman’s. Thanks for hosting my event Vroman’s!


Published in: on March 28, 2019 at 7:29 pm  Comments (2)