Old Boyle Heights hotel gets its cupola back

Worker touches up the top of the new cupola

Original cupola. Photo courtesy East L.A. Community Corp.

Rising above the roof of the 1889 Boyle Hotel, a domed cupola topped by a flagpole loomed over the corner of  First Street and Boyle Avenue for decades, rivaling church spires as the high point of the very young Boyle Heights skyline. Visitors climbed four floors to the top of the red-brick hotel to catch a view of the city from  the small cupola. But the former hotel has now been eclipsed in stature by much taller Boyle Heights buildings, including the nearby White Memorial Medical Center.  The cupola that once crowned the Boyle Hotel was itself removed years ago from the Victorian Italianate-style building, which had fallen into disrepair and cut up into an apartment house popular with mariachis. Late last month, however, the old Boyle Hotel, which is now being transformed into an affordable apartment complex, got its cupola back – or at least a modern version made from plastic polymers.

The cupola – now a bright white and surrounded by scaffolding – rests atop a barrel-shaped turret that juts out from the corner of the landmark building and over the intersection below. Before the cupola was installed, the turret, itself has to be structurally reinforced with steel beams and tied to the building as part of the $24.6 million renovation of the hotel by the The East Los Angeles Community Corp. (the project includes a new wing of apartments). The historic metal panels that wrap around the turret were refurbished and repaired and the windows were re-constructed with curbed glass panels.

Cupola pokes out over construction screen

The dome was reconstructed using “EPS materials to match the original look,” said Project Manager Erika Villablanca with East L.A. Community Corp., which hired architect Richard Barron to design the project. The top of the dome- which will be painted a shade of “Veranda Gold” – will rise 13′-1″ above the roof and will be topped by an 11 foot-high flagpole.

Unlike the original cupola shown in the vintage photo,  residents won’t be able to walk to the very top to enjoy the view


  1. ELACC rocks. Project Manager Erika Villablanca is probably one the best people I have ever dealt with.

    Well done ELACC!

  2. This is wonderful!!!

  3. It’s really neat to see the old cupola being recreated. That building
    has looked like a dejected gentleman missing his hat for so long.

    I’m a bit concerned about the “Veranda Gold” paint promised for the
    dome, though. I did a web search for that color, and it looks a lot
    like the horrid bronze stucco tint that’s coating the Echo Park boat
    house in the current restoration. It’s a very modern, very ugly color
    that should be avoided in all attempts at historic restoration.


    Is there some reason the dome can’t be clad in something
    period-appropriate, like copper? That was what the previously
    published rendering of this project (by Richard Barron Architects)
    showed, copper turned green, or perhaps paint meant to suggest that
    effect. Yellow-bronze paint seems like a major deviation from the
    plan, and something that could spoil the look of the dome.


  4. Passed by it yesterday, and it’s an entirely awesome sight.

  5. Veranda Gold sounds awful. I’m scared of that.

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