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.
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