Las Palmas Market, 1259 N. Las Palmas Ave., via Google Street View.
While architectural styles have changed over the centuries, the use of buildings has remained virtually unchanged, meaning an older bank building can still function as a bank, a restaurant can remain a dining establishment, and so on. Most retail and commercial buildings can remain financially viable for centuries, operating as originally intended or by adaptive reuse into other businesses, thus revealing history at the same time. Grocery stores most often seem to continue operating for decades, serving the neighborhoods around which they were constructed. Two 100 year-old markets continue to serve their neighborhoods here in Los Angeles, just as they did when first opened.
Las Palmas Market, built in 1912 and located at 1259 N. Las Palmas Ave. in Hollywood as part of the Strong and Dickinson’s Hollywood High School Tract, still serves as a local market. When first constructed at the intersection of Las Palmas and Fountain Avenue two blocks east of Highland Avenue, it served the tiny community of citrus farmers which surrounded it known as Colegrove. More prosperous residents resided in the more upscale community of Hollywood, just a few blocks north. The approximate 1000 square foot wood frame structure was built at a cost of $1,500 per the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor’s site, with the store located on the first floor and a residence on the second. The original owner remains unknown. As with most small markets, the store sold meats, dry goods, home products, and produce to patrons.
“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is now available at Amazon and at local bookstores.
The market continued to serve the growing and evolving neighborhood over the years, as what had been farm land was subdivided to construct residences for persons flocking to Hollywood. Small bungalows, duplexes, and bungalow courts sprung up around it as a wave of immigration descended on Hollywood thanks to the burgeoning motion picture industry. Many rented the small homes, while others purchased a residence for the first time.
In 1923, Eugene B. Charbonneau operated the market and also sold meats per the Los Angeles Telephone Directory, while also operating a store at 1153 N. La Brea Avenue. By 1925 he sold to William F. Schanbacher, and in 1928, Frank Wentzel operated the market.
Bob’s Market appears in the background in “L.A. Confidential.” From Left, Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) question a boxer played by Robert Barry Fleming.
The little market remained virtually intact until 1936, when the Board of Health required the original wood floor to be replaced with concrete, per a 1936 building permit. The store front was also slightly altered by owner Shirley Klier per the permit application. Per a November 22, 1937 permit, new owner Sam Winecoff installed an awning out front of the Class D structure. In 1940, Winecoff replaced some of the wood exterior and plaster interior and squared the facade as he continuing making improvements to better serve the needs of customers. A 1947 permit to add 2.6’ x 26’ storage structure to the side of the building noted that the structure had served as a store for over 25 years. The 1976 Daily Variety noted that the building operated as the Las Fountain Liquor Store for a time.
While small alterations or improvements have been made over the years, the 104 year-old 1259 Las Palmas still serves the public as a market. While records don’t appear to exist to indicate whether it appeared in a motion picture in its early years, the store did appear in a 2012 episode of “Southland,” serving as an inner city market under its own name.
Bob’s Market, 1230 Bellevue Ave., via Google Street View.
At 1230 Bellevue Avenue, Bob’s Market still continues as an Angelino Heights grocery store after 103 years in operation. One of Los Angeles’ first suburbs, Angelino Heights is one of the few intact neighborhoods in the city from the Victorian era. Developed by William W. Stilson and Everett E. Hall on a hill two miles northwest of downtown in the 1880s, Angelino Heights served as a respectable, upper middle class neighborhood for genteel, upwardly mobile people, a veritable melting pot almost from its beginnings.
The September 20, 1902 Los Angeles Times notes a nine-room house costing $1,000 for sale by Mitchell, Black & Co. at 1234 Bellevue Avenue, the original address for the site. Big Orange Landmarks states that owner Mrs. Ella Jane Millen hired architect George E. Colterison in 1913 to design a Mission Revival store with some Oriental touches at the six-point intersection, past which wagons, trolleys, streetcars, and even automobiles passed, replacing the demolished home. Contractor Peter A. Holmberg constructed the $3,500, 36’ x 72’ building composed of “two stoors (sic) and flats” of six rooms, per the original permit.
One of the first tenants to occupy part of the site in 1914 was tailor Levon Melkonian, a refugee from the Armenian Genocide. Frank E. Sandberg operated a grocery at 1234 Bellevue in 1916, soon replaced by Erik Holmen in 1917. By 1921, Lewis Vogel ran a market at this location, in partnership with Schelle in 1925. Like the Las Palmas Market, it sold dry goods, produce, meats, and the like.
In 1926, Abram Koper and his wife Miriam took over operations, running the bodega through 1936, with minor alterations like installing accordion doors to the front of the structure in 1930 and adding a screen porch in back in 1932. Some time in this period, Fred and Nelly Baalberger conducted a cleaning business in the half formerly occupied by Melkonian, taken over by the Kopers in 1934 as well.
While the Kopers continued owning the building, Abraham Kroman and his wife operated the market from 1938 until 1942, when it served as Harry Weiner’s Fairview Market. In 1947, Miriam Koper applied for a permit to remove the partition separating the two stores, and the structure has operated solely as a market since that time. Permits note M. J. Shifrin as owner in 1950, and by 1954, Earl Childers ran the grocery, all under the name Fairview Market. The Los Angeles telephone book notes a change in name to Ben’s Market in 1960 after purchase by Ben Nakasone. It now operates as Bob’s Market, after its purchase in 1965 by Bob Nimura and his wife Keiko.
On June 6, 1979, Bob’s Market was named Los Angeles’ Historic Cultural Landmark No. 215 for its many decades of service as a grocery store/market, with little alteration to the main building.
As with the Las Palmas Market, Bob’s has appeared onscreen as well, first in the movie “Los Angeles Confidential” and “Salton Sea,” then most recently as the mom and pop Toretto’s Market in the first “The Fast and the Furious” installment, run by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his sister and where they meet the character played by the late actor Paul Walker.
With proper care and attention, older buildings can continue to function and serve the public as attended, just like Bob’s Market and Las Palmas Market. These stores also show how small businesses built to serve a niche in a local community still remain important to those areas today. This is what historic preservation is all about, not only revealing a city’s historic past, but keeping a building economically viable for future generations.