ECHO PARK — 1650 Echo Park Avenue is a brick, four-story apartment building that dwarfs the surrounding homes and apartments. Now known as The Heights At Echo Park, the 29-unit building features an ornate green terra-cotta Art Deco facade with burnt orange accents. Tenants enter through an arched doorway and have access to an elevator – a rare amenity in Echo Park, then and now. Such an elaborate structure – both in height and in design – blatantly sticks out on the otherwise one and two-story residential street. So what exactly is it doing there?
The building was commissioned by Rosina Pauli, an adjutant in the Salvation Army. Architect E.J. Vought designed the building which was erected in late 1929. Voght was no stranger to such grandiose structures; in fact, he also had a hand in another 1929 Echo Park apartment building that was slated for Glendale Boulevard and Alvarado Street, according to the LA Times.
So who was Rosina Pauli and what possessed this 66 year old, single woman to spend commission such a grand structure, a building with an elevator and wrought iron detailing? Well, Rosina Pauli was a native of Switzerland and came to Los Angeles in 1904, according to her LA Times obituary. Just before that time she was in Goldfield, Nevada directing the Salvation Army efforts there, says the book United By Gold and Glory: The Making of Mining Culture in Goldfield, Nevada. Goldfield was a boomtown in the early 1900s due to the discovery of , you guessed it, gold in 1903. It’s not clear if Pauli struck it rich but, suffice it to say, Pauli’s assets were at least more liquid than most, considering the building, which cost $55,000 to construct, went up as the stock market was crashing in 1929.
If Pauli did find gold, she kept an otherwise relatively low profile here in Los Angeles. She lived just up the street from her grand commission, at 1820 Echo Park Avenue. It was there she remained until her death in 1953, according to the LA Times. Though Pauli’s Salvation Army acclaim is of great note, it is perhaps her elaborate structure on Echo Park Avenue that will be her most visible lasting impression.
Marni Epstein Epstein is an entertainment, music, and lifestyle Journalist and resident of Echo Park. She has previously worked in the film and digital media industries with FOX and Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is currently also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.