The stylish and sophisticated Embassy Hotel Apartments, now named Palihouse, was designed by architect Arthur E. Harvey and built by Luther Mayo in 1927 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The site has been determined to be eligible for National Register of Historic Places both individually and as a contributor to a potential historic thematic district of Elegant Apartments in the north of Wilshire neighborhood. The current owners have conserved and refurbished the building throughout. Recognized as a Santa Monica Landmark in 2003, the original windows, decorative ceilings, patterned tile work, and outdoor patio paving have been preserved.
Arthur E. Harvey created apartment buildings and commercial structures in the 1920s and 30s in Hollywood, on the Miracle Mile, and in downtown Los Angeles. The Embassy Hotel Apartments demonstrate his mastery of the Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Revival styles of many kinds (English Tudor, French Provincial, Egyptian, Pueblo, Mayan…) dominated architecture in 1920s Southern California but none had greater appeal than the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Spanish-style architecture offered a sense of connection with California’s past, adapted well to the region’s mild climate, and evoked romance and exotic beauty for newcomers from the East and Midwest. As such, Spanish forms were applied to every imaginable building type during this era. The Embassy Hotel Apartments are a fine example of the best of this style.
This three and four story L-shaped masonry building is asymmetrically organized around a lushly planted garden courtyard. Clad in stucco, the Embassy is ornamented with numerous Spanish Colonial Revival details. At the main entrance, the front doors are flanked by slender spiral columns and topped with a fanciful panel featuring heraldic shields, masks, and scrolls. A decorative frieze just under the roofline is embellished with more shields. Many windows feature wrought iron grilles or balconets. Other windows are graced with Moorish-inspired pierced stucco screens. The windows themselves are in a variety of arched and flat-topped shapes, and some are glazed with bottle glass. To complete the Spanish look, the Embassy is capped with a red tile roof.
Although a penthouse was added to the original structure (probably in the 1930s) the Embassy is otherwise remarkably unchanged from when it was first built. Moreover, it is unique in retaining its original function as a combination hotel and apartment building. Recognized as an official landmark structure in 2003, today the Embassy lives on as an oasis of beauty with all the charm of a bygone era.