940 N. Highland Ave. via Google Street View.
Long a striking icon on Highland Avenue, 940 N. Highland Avenue’s attractive facade highlights the building’s original use as a dog and cat hospital. Simple and elegant, its sleek modernistic look hints at streamline moderne with its horizontal window and door lines, as stylish now as it looked at its 1930 opening.
Veterinarian Dr. Alexander (Alex) Moxley purchased the property to expand his veterinary practice beyond his 1410 E. Washington Blvd. office location. Born November 2, 1888 in Missouri, Moxley arrived in Los Angeles around 1910, as he and his wife Helen are listed in the 1910 U. S. census as living in Los Angeles. The 1910 Los Angeles city directory lists his veterinary practice at 528 S. San Pedro St. In 1912 his business is located at 1900 S. Central Ave., where he was also operating an auction house. Moxley had some renown, as a wire photo ran in multiple newspapers showing him operating on a zoo elephant. The 1917 directory lists his veterinary business at 1410 E. Washington Blvd.
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July 27, 1915: The Los Angeles Herald publishes a story about Dr. Alex Moxley operating on an elephant.
On March 17, 1930, Ted R. Cooper Company, acting as both architect and contractor, pulled a permit to construct a two story stucco building at 940 N. Highland Ave. to serve as dog kennels. A March 20 permit states they will build a steel frame marquee over the entrance to the dog kennel.
City directories list the Moxleys living at the address as well, meaning that the second floor served as an apartment. A June 30, 1952 Los Angeles Times article mentions that vet Dr. Vance Hall shot intruder Harold Keen with his .22 caliber pistol four times after finding Keen in the apartment at 3 a.m. on June 29 and then attempting to flee. Keen said he merely wanted to “see my dog.”
Moxley’s son Elmer began assisting with the business around 1940, which they occasionally also listed in the Westwood city directory. Moxley is last associated with 940 N. Highland Ave. in the 1942 Los Angeles city directory, and by 1945, he is conducting business at a vet at 7912 Sepulveda Blvd. in Van Nuys. He died in Tulare on July 17, 1951.
Sometime in the 1940s to 1950s, Dr. Paul C. Lockhart takes over the business at 940 N. Highland. Born November 5, 1896, in Iowa, Lockhart and his wife arrived in Los Angeles by the late 1930s. He operated a veterinary practice at 945 N. Fairfax Avenue before the move to Highland.
Lockhart applied for an alteration permit with Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety on November 3, 1959, asking for a permit to construct a neon sign of a Dalmatian dog to sit atop the business. The permit notes that Electrical Products Corporation will construct an “illuminated double face sign of non-combustible material used throughout.” The permit includes a drawing illustrating the look of the dog to grace the building. It appears that prior to the neon sign construction, a papier mache dog sat atop the building, as the permit so notes.
It appears that the structure remained a veterinary practice through 1986, when it served as the Dog and Cat Studios per building permits. 1990 permits begin referring to it as an office building, and alteration permits from that year state that the first floor will see demolition and reconstruction for offices. By the late 1980s, entertainment related companies begin occupying the structure.
Though no longer a veterinary building, 940 N. Highland Ave.’s 1959 iconic neon dog sign atop it reflects the building’s original function. Both it and the stylish facade offer a glamorous presence to that stretch of Highland Avenue.