Diesel-powered art

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Ralph Hemphill opened the Hemphill Diesel Engineering School  in Glassell Park more than 70 years ago to train workers on the ins and outs of the diesel engine. “1933 promises unprecedented growth in the new high-speed aviation, automotive and truck diesels,” read an ad for the San Fernando Road school. “The demand for trained Diesel Engineers is bound to grow STILL GREATER.”   The Hemphill Diesel school  is long gone but its building, a two-story Streamline Moderne structure in the 2100 block of San Fernando Road near Division Street,  continues to promote diesel technology in the form of a gold colored frieze that runs along the top of the building.  The images include a train, ship, truck, blimp and what looks like a tank or tractor. The common denominator of these machines – they were diesel powered.   The Hemphill building that once celebrated the art of the diesel is now home to an art gallery and other studios.


  1. Drive by here occasionally on the way to FedEx and have always admired the frieze. Thanks for the info, pics, and links.

  2. How about restoring this beauty?

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