Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jensen's Recreation Center

Anyone who has followed this blog knows by now that I'm a fan of the many rooftop signs perched atop historic buildings all over Los Angeles.  After years of neglect, some of these signs are being restored by the city.  The first to be lighted again when this process began was the bowler on Jensen's Recreation Center.


Jensen's Recreation Center, 1706 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, built in 1924.  Henry Jensen, who supplied bricks for many Los Angeles buildings, built this Italianate structure in Echo Park as a combination entertainment/retail/apartment complex.  The bowling alley and billiards parlor highlighted on the famous rooftop sign were located on the first floor of the building.


Jensen lost his fortune in the Great Depression and the sign went dark.  Over the decades, LA grew, buildings were demolished, new buildings went up, but Jensen's survived.  Though the bowling alley and billiards parlors vanished decades ago, the sign remained, and in the '90's was re-lighted.  Once again, the bowler's arm pulls back, then swings forward, the ball rolls across the sign, and the pins flash and fall. 


Store fronts still line the sidewalk, just as when Jensen built his recreation center in 1924.


The entrance to what was once the recreation center is in the center of the Sunset Boulevard facade.  Jensen included apartments in his original plan, and they're still there, up the stairs on the building's second and third floors.  This was always a mixed-use building.




The building is heavily decorated.







Jensen's Recreation Center is an LA Historic Cultural Monument.


It's a wonderful building, but there's no question the most significant attribute is that electric sign on the roof!


I promise to brush-up on my night-time photo techniques so I can capture the Jensen's sign in action next time!

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