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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Neighborhood Fixture: 1157 Echo Park Avenue *

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Neighborhood Fixture seeks to provide a bit of history and background about buildings and sites that catch our attention, for better or worse.

Most Echo Park residents probably know this property at the southwest corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard as the home of Fashion of Echo Park or the Hollyway Cleaners building. The three-story building – which includes two floors of apartments above the storefronts – was built in 1924 in the Renaissance Revival Style, according to a city sponsored historic resources survey.  However, a check on county assessor information shows that the structure might composed of two buildings, one dating back to 1907. The interior offers few clues of the building’s past, with the apartments having been gutted after they sat vacant for more than a decade. Outside, however,  the building’s skin of simulated stone blocks gives the building of an imposing albeit dusty fortress.

This high profile, neighborhood corner has seen numerous businesses come and go, including A. Seargeant Grocer and Meats; Trank’s Nut House; Crew’s Echo Park Furniture Co. & Samuel Pazen’s Dry Goods. The Hollyway Cleaners has been a tenant for more than 50 years. A Los Angeles Times story from January 1963 said that the owner of the cleaners,  Milton Chortkoff, boosted annual sales from $40,000 in 1954 to about $250,000.  How did he do it?  A focus on customer service and a gimmick, the Times explains:

“Gimmicks also are an important part of his operation. Besides working behind the counter himself and greeting nearly everyone by name, he hands out boxes of candy, perfume, flowers and even initialed half-handkerchiefs for the breast pocket of men’s suits.”

Address: 1157 Echo Park Avenue, Echo Park
Built: 1924 & 1907

* Update: Kevin Kuzma, President of the Echo Park Historical Society (The Eastsider is a board member) found a 1920s advertisement (pictured at right) for a hand-operated concrete block machine, which would have been similar to the machines used to make the concrete veneer of 1157 Echo Park Avenue.



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7 comments

  1. I always chuckle at that sign that reads ‘A.P.T. for rent’.

  2. I like this idea for posts. I’m looking forward to more of these.

  3. A neighbor was interested in this building years ago when it was up for sale. In the inspection they found the ground to be so contaminated from the dry cleaning chemicals being dumped or let to seep into the ground (for 50 years)
    They stepped away from the deal concluding it was toxic and that it was the reason they had stopped renting apartments in the building, they believed that the seepage went all the way to the lake.

  4. Maybe the chemicals are creeping up from the lake?

  5. You can learn all about the contamination associated with the Hollyway Cleaners (and many other EP sites nearby) at the State’s waterboard website called Geotracker. Link below…

    http://geotracker.swrcb.ca.gov/profile_report.asp?global_id=SL2048E1699

  6. Amazing. Chemicals known to cause cancer and said to raise the risk of Parkinsons 9 fold (PCE and TCE) were found leaking out of the Hollyway Cleaners in 1988 and as recent as 2009, contaminating the ground and water table.

    22 years later nothing has been done to clean it up.

    Great link Andrew.

  7. I wanted to let you know that I have the old safe from Crew’s Echo Park Furniture Co. It was left to me by my mother, and her father gave it to her. Can you tell me when the furniture co. was in business. It is in the original condition with all the writing on it and the makers name Cary safe Co. NY.
    Thank You Rocco

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