Saturday, July 12, 2008

No. 161 - Wolfer Printing Company Building

Wolfer Printing Company Building

Wolfer Printing Company Building
1929 – Edward Cray Taylor and Ellis Wing Taylor
416 Wall Street – map
Declared: 9/15/76

Every source I’ve looked at, including Gebhard and Winter, McGrew and Julian, and the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, says this Tudor Revival building was put up in 1929. Every source, that is, except the city’s ZIMAS page. It claims the building dates back to 1917. I almost want get off the couch, hustle downtown to the Department of Building and Safety, and conduct a little more research to see what’s what. Almost.

Wolfer Printing Company Building

No matter how old, this brick structure was built for the Wolfer Printing Company. It’s founder, William Wolfer, Sr, was born on July 21, 1872, emigrating here from New Jersey at the age of six. In 1952, the Printing Industries Association, Inc., honored him with an award of merit for sixty-seven years of commercial printing service. He died in 1957 in his daughter’s Studio City home. At the time of his death, he was no longer associated with the printing business, but owned the Wolfer Printers Supply Co.

Wolfer Printing Company Building

Edward Cray Taylor and Ellis Wing Taylor were the architect and engineer behind the Wolfer Building. Born in Chicago, the brothers would also build Yuma’s Masonic Temple, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Edward Cray also designed the Glassell Park Elementary School, which, while listed on the Register last year, is not a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. E.C. Taylor died in his Beverly Hills home in 1946 at the age of 49. Engineer Ellis Wing, who was married to silent film actress Anne Cornwall, gained fame by designing airplane factories, including the Douglas plant in Long Beach and San Diego’s Consolidated factory. He died in 1951 in his Arcadia home (where's 1075 Singing Wood Drive?).

Wolfer Printing Company Building
Wolfer Printing Company Building

While on Wall, I popped in a couple of the individual shops for any signs of the building’s old interior but saw few. One, maybe, is what looks like a vintage hanging lamp. Reconstituted fluorescently, but is there anyone out there who recognizes such an apparatus? Old? New? I think it was hanging in the J-W-T store.

Wolfer Printing Company Building
Wolfer Printing Company Building
Another interior.

Also, I walked around the top of the neighboring building/parking lot to see if I could get a good shot of that mural evident in this old picture from the city’s Department of City Planning website (I see mountains, I see trees… ). I couldn’t, but you can still see a bit of it in the lower picture here:

Wolfer Printing Company Building
Wolfer Printing Company Building

Part of the old Mrs M. M. Shaw subdivision, the area of the Wolfer Printing Company Building today is in L.A.’s Skid Row. You really know what city’s skid row you’re in when those on hard times ask you not for change but for which studio you’re shooting location shots.

Wolfer Printing Company Building


“Veteran Printer Honored With Award of Merit” The Los Angeles Times Sep 12, 1952 p. 5

“William Wolfer Sr., 85, Early Day Printer, Dies” The Los Angeles Times Sep 3, 1957 p. B2

“E.W. Taylor, Designer of Plane Factories, Dies” The Los Angeles Times Jan 21, 1951, p. B7

Up next: William Mulholland Memorial Fountain


Victor Atomic said...

What great feel to the walls. Another thanks for always updating this blog as I'm fascinated by the old and beautiful places you visit.

Only if I had a million dollars...

LW said...

The "street view" Google Maps has of this lovely little building tells a different story than your photo. The one you took shows it in a far better light, both literally and figuratively.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks, V.A. The last sale amount was for just more than $2 million, so if buying the Wolfer Building is your goal, you'll still be short.

LW, Google Maps has been invaluable to me, of course. What'll be great is being able to look back years from now and see what the city looked like in 2008. Why didn't Google start this is 1930?

john said...

County assessors records show this building as being built in 1917 too.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks, John.

Susan said...

My great grandfather William Rankin Good Sr. took ownership of Wolfers Printing Co. long before Mr. Wolfer died in 1957. I was born in 1958 and I spent many aday at Wolfers at 5th and 416 Wall when I was a child. My Mother who is 78 years old has the original 1932 Olympics book, marriage my father Fredrick Nelson Good in 1949. We have pictures of my family and Wolfers. Sincerely Susan Good,

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks for the comment, Susan. It's always good to get this sort of information.

Dylan said...

Very Cool blog.

I ended up here after finding two 1966 pay check stubbs from a employee of Wolfers Printing. They were lodged between the drawer and inner house of a 1913 craftsman I just bought.

I can only search & wonder.

gvg4u said...

...and finally some other interesting information on William Wolfer Sr. Twenty years ago I owned the old Queen Anne house at 1515 S Hoover St. (built 1901) Near where Hoover and Venice cross, guess who the first owner on record was? William Wolfer Sr. Well I no longer own the house, but it's OK, neither does William.

Fate has an interesting way of creeping up on someone though. All those years gone by between my research turning up William Wolfer as the first owner of my home, and just a few weeks ago, I happened upon the Wolfer printing building, photographed it and decided to do a bit more research on it. What a surprise to find the link between this building and my old house!

Anonymous said...

I worked at Wolfer in the mid 70s in the prepress department. It was known to have the oldest elevator in LA at that time. Brass open cage type. I wish I had taken pictures of that old building.

Steve Moore

Keith sloan said...

I remember that elevator. My father was editor of one of Wolfer's magazines
Who were those pay stubs for?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article. I live down the block from this building and often marvel at the unusual brickwork while wondering about it's history. I do hope it gets saved. Winston Street is a treasure.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea who the pay stubs were. Robert Good was running the place. His brother Kenny worked upstairs with us in prepress. Stubs were probably down stairs where the press department was. The skid row slasher hit someone right across from the place one day in the news. Everything around it was old and I used to park in a parking lot just down the street to the right but on the other side. Police station was left. I believe it is gone also. It's all been filled in with shops.I had kept my Wolfer T shirt for many years but it just wore out...

nancnoble said...

My father worked as a linotype operator at Wolfer's in the 1930's - early 40's. Thank you for the great research you have done on this historic building.

Anonymous said...

Ellis Wing Taylor, Edward Cray Taylor along with Roy Seldon Price drew the plans for Horace Mann Elementary School in the Beverly Hills Unified School District. The original building erected in 1929 was in the Spanish Colonial Style built around a central patio with a fountain. A Kindergarten-Primary Building was added in 1934 (demolished) and the auditorium (recently restored) was added in 1937.
Even as a new classroom building is currently being built at the corner of Robertson and Charleville Blvds., the original architecturally significant buildings will remain and updated.

It is unfortunates that replacement windows in the 1970s destroyed the original look of the buildings, but perhaps as they did for the recent auditorium restoration, similar retro looking window treatments will be done for the rest of the school.

Submitted by a former student who appreciated the beautiful exteriors and interiors during the 1950s and 60s.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for wolfer printing back when Robert Good owned it in the 1980s I remember using the old elevator and some say there's a ghost in the building.I still have my old wolfer shirt the good old days