Neighborhood Fixture: Valley Dairy Co.

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The  former 80-year-old Van de Kamp Bakery, which was recently restored,  has long reigned as perhaps Glassell Park’s most well known landmark, with a brick and stucco facade influenced by classic Dutch architecture. Across the street in the 2900 block of Fletcher Drive, sits another well preserved piece of industrial Los Angeles. Built in 1931 at the cost of $75,000, the Art-Deco style building served as the general offices, refrigeration unit and distribution center for Valley Dairy Co., according to a July 1931 Los Angeles Times story. The  exterior of the concrete building  is relatively restrained compared to its Dutch-Revival style neighbor across the street. But, after stepping inside the front door, visitors to the former Valley Dairy Co. are greeted with a colorful and dramatic two-story lobby complete with faux fireplace, a sweeping staircase and colorful tile. Unlike the former Van de Kamp bakery, which now is leased out for educational and government offices, the former Valley Dairy building still houses an industrial concern, J.M Carden Sprinkler Co.

Michael Carden said his company moved into the property nearly 30 years ago. The building, which was designed by the engineering firm Ted R. Cooper Company, had been occupied by several tenants – including the Los Angeles Police Department – since Valley Dairy moved out. After moving in, Carden said he spent much time and effort to remove layers of paint from wood doors and cabinetry.  Look closely and you can see the faint outline of hand stenciled  designs on the concrete beams and ceilings. As a youth, Carden said he remembers having lunch with his father, who founded the company, across the street at the former Van de Kamps coffee shop. Carden said the building never attracted his attention until he was looking to expand the company his father founded

Carden said he could have moved the company to an efficient, boxy modern industrial building made of tilt-up concrete walls. But, the Valley Dairy’s architecture helped set him apart. The architects and designers he worked with “loved the place,” he said. “It’s served us well.”


  1. i would like to point out something that really irritates me. Just up San Fernando (at the corner of Glendale and San Fernando) the city of Glendale built an affordable housing complex at the same time that the Van De Camp campus was being built. What really irritates me is that Glendale was able to underground the utility wires, removing visual blight, while LA built a right turn only lane and moved the poles instead of undergrounding them. Why couldnt the city have some foresight and put those damn things under ground? after all, they had already dug up the street. Things like this really aggravate me, since small steps like this can improve the look of our city.

  2. Thank you so much for this article and great photos! I’ve often wondered about that building. Many kudos to the owner who has preserved it so lovingly over the years.

  3. How beautiful. It is remarkable that the building hasn’t been demolished and that the Mr. Carden truly appreciates the treasure he’s protecting.

  4. Thank you Mr. Carden.

    Who would have guessed what a gem it is inside such an unpretentious facade. Thank you for your care and work of preservation.

  5. How wonderful! Mr. Carden was (then, & clearly still is now) a wise man. Now, I will drive past the area with a feeling of admiration.

  6. Van de Kamps Coalition

    The Valley Dairy Building is a beautiful compliment to the restored Van de Kamps Building. But Van de Kamps continues to be a crime scene by the Community College.

    At yesterday’s Board meeting of the Los Angeles Community College District, Daniel LaVista, the new Chancellor hired from back east, stated that he did not realize how “gang-infested” the area was and therefore how the substitution of the Community College campus with a charter high school and unemployment offices was “probably the best for the area” at this time. So the official message from LACCD is that only the Northeast Community of LACCD’s expansive district does not deserve the academic opportunity promised to the young people of Northeast for the last decade in a Satellite Campus of Los Angeles City College.

    LaVista’s low expectations are a self-fulfilling prophecy to work an official discrimination against the Northeast area of LACCD’s service area. All other LACCD colleges and sites are getting the facilities promised to them, but the Northeast is treated as second class citizens. Look at your tax bill. LACCD in one year just doubled the amount of money it is taking from homeowners in the Northeast but it denies our youth the educational opportunity they deserve and were promised by Trustees of the Board.

    How embarrassing for the owners of Valley Dairy to be located across the street from a giant unemployment office that has no business being inside what was promised and designed as a community college classroom building.

  7. What a beautiful building!! It sat vacant and abused for many years. It is so wonderful to see it beautiful again.

    The bond money is being misued. The building is suppose to be used for the college. I could understand using it for vocational purposes to help people get jobs. But a high school is completely NOT what the building is suppose to be used for.

    And, this person that thinks this is in a gang area knows absolutely nothing about Los Angeles and certainly does not know the areas surrounding other colleges like Los Angeles City College and even USC. I guess when these “outsiders” get hired, there are problems. The people doing the hiring are not very smart either. They need to hire a “local” who knows the area and knows the issues.

  8. Carden says it “served” his company well. Past tense. What is the building being used for now? I feel like I’ve only been given the first page of a three page story. You’ve piqued my interest; please sir, may I have more?
    I agree with all the comments about the use of the Van DeKamp building. We allocated funding for a college campus not a charter school! We have a brand new High School going in less than a mile away – we need the college opportunities we were promised!

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