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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Neighborhood Fixture: The Lincoln Heights office building with enough noir for a novel

Lincoln Heights

By Marni Epstein

LINCOLN HEIGHTS —  Talk of suicide,  a family feud and a courtroom battle over a father’s will. That’s enough intrigue and noir to fill a Raymond Chandler novel. And with a setting that looks like this, how could you expect anything less. It is the Di Blasi Office Building in Lincoln Heights, built in 1923 according to You Are Here.  (County Assessor records, meanwhile, show a 1931 and 1921 building permits).  The two-story brick building at 2714 N. Broadway retains much of its vintage character, including the letters “D” and “B” that have been combined to form a symbol that appears in decorative panels across the facade of the building.  In the 1920s, this is where Angelo Di Blasi ran a successful produce business – Angelo Di Blasi & Sons – that became the subject of a family and courtroom battle.

Angelo Di Blasi ran his business with sons Carmelo and Antonio.  The sons’ association with the business came under much scrutiny, however, after Angelo’s death in June 1929.

Antonio, the elder son, sued his brother and mother, Concetta de Luca Di Blasi, to dissolve a partnership and account for the estate left by his father, according to a 1930 L.A. Times story. “The plaintiff asserts that after his father’s death, his mother and brother drove him from home,”  said the story.  Antonio, who claimed half interest in the business, maintained that his father referred to him as  “the boss.”

There was also mention in the trial coverage of the elder Di Blasi’ suicide, which was  rumored to have been precipitated by “his favorite son” Carmelo’s incessant canoodling with a certain girl whom the family apparently didn’t approve. Carmelo, though, denied that his affairs were to blame for his father’s death.

The truth behind Angelo’s death remains unclear but his elder son, Antonio, emerged victorious in court, which broke his father’s will and named him a partner in the business.

Today, the building that bears the Di Blasi Office Building is home to the Lincoln Heights Chamber of Commerce, a women’s fashion boutique, and other merchants. While the Di Blasi business may have dissolved into an ugly family drama,  it left behind an attractive two-story landmark in the heart of Lincoln Heights” Broadway business district.

Lincoln Heights

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Neighborhood Fixture  provides a bit of history and background about buildings and places that catch our attention.  Got info about a neighborhood landmark? Send details to hello@TheEastsiderLA.com

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.

4 comments

  1. Man, I love these posts. Thanks for researching and sharing!

  2. Reading about the history of these old buildings is fascinating. The photos are great too. Keep it coming!

  3. I like the crazy narrow driveway that leads to a secret parking lot behind the building.

  4. Very interesting! Thanks for posting this story about our crazy LA history. Keep digging for more interesting stories…love it!

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