The Merritt Building

The Merritt Building opened in 1915. Millionaire Hullet C. Merritt, the building’s owner, wanted to construct a 23-story edifice to himself but was turned down by the Los Angeles City Council. So he scaled back his plans and ended up with a ten-story design that set a rendition of Minerva’s Temple on top of a three-story base. The building housed various retail stores on its ground floor and offices above, with the top floor set aside for Mr. Merritt himself, though he lived at the mansion that still bares his name in Pasadena.

After he died the building was bought in 1957 by the Home Savings & Loan Association and their misguided redesign by artist Millard Sheets took out many of the building’s lower windows and created an ornate entrance on Broadway. Home Savings & Loan would later become Washington Mutual which would later go bankrupt and the Merritt, like so many buildings in downtown Los Angeles, was abandoned – with the exception of street level low-end retail with gaudy signage. All the upper floors remained empty since the 1980’s and were left to rot.

A Vancouver-based real estate firm has plans to transform The Merritt Building into modern office space with the first and basement level becoming 6,000 square feet of retail space, while offering 40,000 square feet of rentable floor space on the floors above. The rooftop could become a social lounge with a landscaped outdoor deck, but before that happens, here’s what it looks like before. These were taken very late at night using only light painting and/or long exposures.