What is now internally referred to as LACMA West, the building on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, used to be a May Co. department store. Built in 1939, the building is a beautiful example of streamline moderne architecture; the store had four floors of merchandise and a fifth floor housed a tearoom and restaurant. Eventually the tearoom became a place where women would come daily to play panguingue, a variation of gin rummy and bridge. Purchased by the museum in 1994, some of the staff was moved over to this building with the ever-growing demand for more space. There are still a lot of places in the building that have never been converted. Last week I had our building supervisor, Harry, take me on a tour of these unused spaces of the building. Harry has worked here for over 18 years and patrols this building, top to bottom, every day.
A giant water tower used to sit on the roof. It was so big that when they removed it they had to break it down into several pieces to get it down the stairs and out the doors.
All of the escalators, while not working, are still here.
May Co. used to house the Craft and Folk Art Museum on the fourth floor
A beautiful example of old lettering.
Outstanding employees walk of fame
Someone was drinking on the job; an old bottle of Imperial Irish Whiskey.
Before there were security cameras there was someone, on the other side of the wall, spying on customers to make sure no one was shoplifting.
Part of Michael C. McMillen’s Central Meridian, The Garage.
Does this not remind you of something out of Dr. Strangelove?