Friday, February 13, 2009

No. 215 - Bob's Market

Bob's Market

Bob’s Market
1913 – George F. Colterison
1230 Bellevue Avenue – map
Declared: 6/6/79

Okay. Add the proprietors of Bob’s Market to the list of those who do not appreciate my taking photos of their establishment, in this case a city landmark for nearly thirty years now.

In 1913 Ella J. McMillen hired architect George F. Colterison to design for her what would be this one-story, false front, frame structure with slight Mission Revival and Oriental elements. Peter A. Holmberg’s construction costs ran the Widow McMillen $3,500.

Bob's Market
Bob's Market

The sight was absolutely perfect for a grocery store, located at a six-point intersection in the paths of trolleys, carriages, and pedestrians. Now, at first, the building housed two businesses (and two families). One of the first tenants/shop-owners was Levon Melkonian. He fled the Turks and the Armenian Genocide in 1914, setting up a tailor shop in the 1253 Bellevue half (his wife, Azniv M., joined him five years afterwards). Levon was on the other side of grocer Frank E. Sandberg. Abram and Miriam Kooper bought the grocery half in 1926, establishing a home there the following year. In 1934 the Koopers acquired the dry cleaning business next door from Fred and Nelly Baalberger. Since then, the building’s held a single business.

Bob's Market
Bob's Market

Kensington Properties bought the landmark on January 11, 1963. Two years later, Bob and Keiko Nimura bought it from Ben Nakone.

Bob’s Market narrowly escaped a devastating six-house fire on the block in August 2003. The blaze left nearly thirty residents homeless.

Bob's Market

McGrew and Julian, in their Landmarks of Los Angeles, say Bob’s Market is “unique primarily because it has survived”, but what they don’t say is that Angelino Heights at one time had four local grocery stores, one of which was around till not that long ago.

Even those of us with only a passing knowledge of Angelino Heights remember the B & K Market at the northwest corner of Bellevue and West Edgeware. You can still see the shop’s sign telling us Knudsen is The Very Best (and you can make out the B & K on the sign if you get up really close). Ninety-plus years ago, this grocery was run by a man named Henry M. Reuter. He lived right behind his shop at 1166 West Edgeware.

Former B & K Market
Henry Reuter’s grocery store / B & K Market

For those of you who can remember back twenty-five years, you might recall the shop at 826 East Edgeware, between Carroll and Kellam. A plaque on the building’s side tells us it was a community store from 1911 to 1984. In 1915, this was the Driggs Bros market. That year, brothers B. Ruggles and John W. were living at nearby 816b East Kensington and 1100 West Kensington, respectively. Here’s the Driggs Bros store today:

Former Driggs Bros Grocery Store
The Driggs Bros market

Thirdly – and most obscurely – there was Harry Smookler’s grocery at 954 East Edgeware. Harry bought the land – lot 5, block 11 – from Charlie Stimson in 1906. Smookler also lived here with his family.

Former Harry Smookler Grocery Store
Former Harry Smookler store/residence

Poor Harry. Just a few days before Christmas 1912, the neighborhood grocer gave his son, Willie, what the Los Angeles Times called a “slight chastisement”. A sensitive lad, distraught fifteen-year-old Willie subsequently borrowed a pistol from his pal, Waldo Hardeson, who then accompanied his buddy to buy cartridges. The teenage Smookler walked to a nearby vacant lot, stuck the gun in his mouth, and committed suicide. Harry the grocer found the body.

Bob's Market


“Houses, Lots and Lands – Review of Building and Development” The Los Angeles Times; Jun 10, 1906, p. V24

“Youthful Pride Causes Tragedy.” The Los Angeles Times; Dec 20, 1912, p. II5

Morales, T.M. “Family Operated Stores Still Stand” Parkside Journal; Jul 25, 1979, p. 1

McGrew, Patrick and Robert Julian Landmarks of Los Angeles Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1994 New York, NY

Rubin, Joel and Monte Morin “Fire Chars Angelino Heights Homes” The Los Angeles Times; Aug 15, 2003

Up next: Hall Residence


Nathan said...

Don't like you taking photos, eh? Well, they probably wouldn't like the volume one could write on what looks like water intrusion and wood rot, but that's true with a lot of these "protected structures." Hope they're enjoying their Mills Act.

I say you get yourself a cheap dark suit, white shirt, dark tie, dark glasses, and a Crown Vic. If they give you trouble you can give them a card with your name on it in an officious-looking font. Or a blank card. Hey, you're not impersonating anyone. They're obviously the guilty ones.

Oh yeah, and look around a lot and talk into your hand. They hate that.

Anonymous said...

If you want to commit a Harry, listen to Nathan.

The Smookler residence has a gloss of hip going for it. I do wish Bob's market had the dough for repairs. Such a charming shop.

Nathan said...

Hey, all I was saying was give them a slight chastisement. Whose fault is it if they can't live with the terrible burden of their shame and overpowering guilt?

Maybe it'll become all the rage, and all the kids'll be dancin' the dance craze sweepin' the nation, "Committing a Harry." It's like the Frug, but has this finger-wavy chastisement move, and then your partner does this two finger to the upper palette blam-thing, and then you both shake a tail feather. I give that platter a nine! (The original pressing of the 45, by high school garage band "Office of Historic Resources," is going to be a much sought-after collectable, I assure you.)

I bet nobody's talked about Harry Smookler this much in a number of years. Wherever he is, his ears are burning. (Not to insinuate that parts of him should be inordinately warm, wherever he is.)

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling the beat. Rumor has it that "Office of Historic Resources" is going to be on the reality show Battle of the Bands.
So true..we haven't heard much from Harry Smookler as of late. I may name my kitten after him.

svaldez724 said...

in the early 60's i lived with my family in a duplex across the street from bob's market. i knew that place well. my mom would send me to buy groceries. we moved just down the street to marion ave. around 1965 so i continued to shop at bob's until i left Los angeles to attend college in 1973. i enjoy going back to that neighborhood, taking pictures and, of course, shopping at bob's market

Anonymous said...

I just came across your site after deciding to pursue a career in adaptive reuse real estate. I've lived in LA my entire life with stints in Paris and have always missed the historical buildings of Europe. I am so excited that others enjoy the simple pleasures of researching a bygone era as well. Thank you for such a wonderful resource, amazing posts, and the fact that you included a link to the Armenian Genocide. As an Armenian American, I thoroughly appreciate it. I've been focusing on researching Downtown LA but your site has spurred me to venture to other neighborhoods that had succumbed to the pitfalls of neglect and time, or so I thought.

I also noticed the engine company #23 that is in significant disrepair while exploring Downtown, and per your post I have decided to become a squatter, pay the property taxes and refurbish the place. If only I could figure out a way to supersede the other squatters' seniority, hmmm..


Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks a lot for the nice comment, Anonymous. Have fun venturing beyond downtown LA, and best of luck with those squatters.