Many Larchmont area residents were thrilled to see the scaffolding going up and the plaster coming down at the Chase Bank branch on Larchmont this past week as a delicate band of decorative urns, scallops and clock-shaped icons was revealed as a ribbon wrapped around the original brick building. Could it be Chase was bringing the original facade back to its former glory? It definitely seemed possible as JP Morgan Chase has done a marvelous job restoring and highlighting many of the former Home Savings branch buildings that sit on prominent corners around LA, including one on Vine and Sunset.
Hopeful, the Buzz phoned the Chase Branch Asst Manager who referred us to the Facility Manager who referred us to Corporate Communications and by the end of three days we were beginning to realize perhaps this was not a remarkable restoration in progress. In fact, Chase will be covering all that glorious detail work back up, making it again the boring box it currently is, but this time to proper building code specs. The work is expected to last 4-6 weeks.
According to Gary Kishner, Chase Media Relations, the stucco facade of the bank branch is being opened up because of its poor structural integrity. “The stucco overlay was sagging and was a danger. It’s a safety concern – we don’t want stucco falling on people.” The current facade was not up to code and will be rebuilt (re-stuccoed) to today’s building code. Kishner stated that the original brick and mortar facade was irreparable and it could not be restored.
This is truly a disappointment to those of us intrigued and beguiled with the early architecture of our neighborhood. While we know brick buildings still stand throughout our nation that are much older than this, it seems improbable that the original facade could not be saved. It is more likely that it just won’t be saved due to financial constraints. It is truly a sad reality as we see more of the facade uncovered, including some stately windows and learn that the ribbon of detailed decoration wraps its way around the corner. We only wish JP Morgan Chase would see the opportunity here to bring this piece of history back to its glory and make our boulevard proud.
(Check out our post about film locations and see an early version of the Chase building seen in “Off Limits”, 1953.)