1424 Fourth Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Central Tower Building

Known As:
Architect: M. Eugene Durfee
Built: 1929
Designated: March 11, 2013

Although its profile is somewhat squat, this is one of the city’s principal Art Deco high rises. The owner/architect team of Creel and Durfee also built the Builders Exchange. It consists of a central tower flanked by two lower wings – a typical Art Deco composition. Vertical piers carry the eye upwards, and the central tower has a step-back with pyramidal roof, emphasizing verticality. The piers culminate in angles pointing upwards, with decorative embellishments heightening the vertical thrust. The two-story wings are divided into bays by verticals that have Art Deco geometric ornamentation at each end.

Central Tower Building, Santa Monica, 1930s. Photo credit Los Angeles Past.

Central Tower Building, Santa Monica, 1930s. Photo credit Los Angeles Past.

The storefronts are mostly remodeled, but one retains its original multi-colored tile bulkhead – yellow and green chevrons on a black background. This tile, also found in the entry, was made by Claycraft Potteries, a Los Angeles company. The entry contains some exuberant Art Deco features, such as ornamental panels with stylized flowers, scrolls and fountain sprays, and the geometric coffered ceiling. The original cream and black marble floor and the coffered ceiling continue inside the lobby, where an original ornate bronze mail chute remains.

This site was originally occupied by the city’s first general store, built by Santa Monica pioneer Williamson Vawter, who also developed the city’s first transportation system.

Sources:

  1. Santa Monica Conservancy. “Downtown Walking Tour.”