Williams-Designed Golden State Building is LA’s 1,000th Landmark
Los Angeles has designated its one thousandth historic-cultural monument (number one: the Leonis Adobe on the border of Calabasas) and it’s a goodie–University Park’s Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building. GSM was founded in 1925 to serve African-Americans who’d been denied coverage elsewhere and it became one of the biggest black-owned businesses west of the Mississippi, according to the Office of Historic Resources newsletter. In 1948, it commissioned Paul Williams, the first black member of the AIA, to design a headquarters on West Adams Boulevard.
Williams commissioned Hale Woodruff and Charles Alston to paint murals of early black Californians for the lobby of the building; in March, as the state was liquidating GSM, the Smithsonian kicked up some controversy when it tried to buy and remove the murals. It withdrew its offer pretty quickly and meanwhile the LA Conservancy’s Modern Committee nominated the building for landmark status. But while “The designation identifies the murals as significant character-defining features of the building,” according to the OHR, “the question of whether the murals are an asset separate from the building remains the subject of a legal dispute.”
· Los Angeles Reaches Preservation Milestone: Historic-Cultural Monument #1000 [OHR]
· Smithsonian Wants Murals Out of Williams’ Golden State Mutual [Curbed LA]