The former 80-year-old Van de Kamp Bakery, which was recently restored, has long reigned as perhaps Glassell Park’s most well known landmark, with a brick and stucco facade influenced by classic Dutch architecture. Across the street in the 2900 block of Fletcher Drive, sits another well preserved piece of industrial Los Angeles. Built in 1931 at the cost of $75,000, the Art-Deco style building served as the general offices, refrigeration unit and distribution center for Valley Dairy Co., according to a July 1931 Los Angeles Times story. The exterior of the concrete building is relatively restrained compared to its Dutch-Revival style neighbor across the street. But, after stepping inside the front door, visitors to the former Valley Dairy Co. are greeted with a colorful and dramatic two-story lobby complete with faux fireplace, a sweeping staircase and colorful tile. Unlike the former Van de Kamp bakery, which now is leased out for educational and government offices, the former Valley Dairy building still houses an industrial concern, J.M Carden Sprinkler Co.
Michael Carden said his company moved into the property nearly 30 years ago. The building, which was designed by the engineering firm Ted R. Cooper Company, had been occupied by several tenants – including the Los Angeles Police Department – since Valley Dairy moved out. After moving in, Carden said he spent much time and effort to remove layers of paint from wood doors and cabinetry. Look closely and you can see the faint outline of hand stenciled designs on the concrete beams and ceilings. As a youth, Carden said he remembers having lunch with his father, who founded the company, across the street at the former Van de Kamps coffee shop. Carden said the building never attracted his attention until he was looking to expand the company his father founded
Carden said he could have moved the company to an efficient, boxy modern industrial building made of tilt-up concrete walls. But, the Valley Dairy’s architecture helped set him apart. The architects and designers he worked with “loved the place,” he said. “It’s served us well.”