Morgan, Walls & Morgan’s Haas Building

The construction of the Haas Building was announced in 1913. The building is situated on the northeast corner of Broadway and Seventh Streets in downtown Los Angeles. It’s 12 stories, has a steel frame and was covered in terra cotta when originally built.

The building has 55 feet of frontage on Broadway and 150 feet of frontage on 7th Street.

In all its glory as originally built.

The building was designed by Morgan, Walls & Morgan for Abraham Haas who spent $500,000 to construct the building. Haas lived in San Francisco but was a former resident of Los Angeles and owned a great deal of property in the Los Angeles area. In 1915, he was the president of Haas, Baruch & Company and also president of the Haas Realty Company. The Jewish Museum of the American West states that Abraham Haas was born in 1847 and arrived in Los Angeles around 1864.

According to their website Haas teamed up with his brother Jacob, Herman Hellman and Bernard Cohn to form Haas, Baruch & Company which was a “major food wholesaler in the Southwest.”

Abraham Haas seated at a desk. Courtesy Elise Stern Haas family photographs, The University of California, Berkeley.

The Los Angeles Herald, in a 1914 article, stated that “Haas, Baruch and company, distributors of the well-known Iris line of high-grade canned foods, have been identified with the growth of the Southwest for nearly half a century.”

The Herald article also stated that in 1888 the business moved into the Germain block on Los Angeles Street and it was around this time that Hellman withdrew from the company and set his sights on banking instead. Then in 1912 the company moved into a new concrete structure at Second and Alameda Streets. So, it was this Iris brand of canned foods that propelled Haas to millionaire status and gave him the money necessary to erect the Haas Building.

The Bank of Italy moved into the ground floor of the Haas Building and opened a branch there on May 8, 1915. News reports stated that over 10,000 people visited the bank on its opening day. The main banking area was 50 by 75 feet with an entrance on Broadway. The bank also leased the basement for their safety deposit department. The Bank of Italy signed a twenty-five year lease when they moved into the Haas Building.

The Seventh Street entrance.

In 1953 Smart & Final merged with Haas, Bruch & Company. Today, Smart & Final operates over 300 stores in the Western United States and 15 stores in Mexico.

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Sources

Abraham Haas. (n.d.) Jewish Museum of the West. Retrieved February 8, 2019, from http://www.jmaw.org/hass-jewish-los-angeles/

Abraham Haas seated at a desk. Used with the permission of the Bancroft Library, UC Berkley.

Bank of Italy in new home. (1915, May 9). Los Angeles Times, p. V1.

Great block for Broadway at Seventh. (1913, September 28). Los Angeles Times, p. II1.

Haas Building. (1919, January). The Architect, 17(1), plate 2.

High grade goods firm’s specialty. (1914, February 7). Los Angeles Herald, p. 6F.

Rushing work on skyscraper. (1914, December 13). Los Angeles Times, p. V1.

Smart & Final. (2019). Smart & Final fact-sheet. Retrieved February 8, 2019 from https://www.smartandfinal.com/fact-sheet

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Note: I have a book coming out on March 11, 2019 from The History Press titled: The Architects Who Built Southern California. 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.