Broadway Hollywood Lofts History

The 1927 Renaissance-style tower was designed by noted Los Angeles architect Frederick Rice Dorn, with an international-style addition by Parkinson & Parkinson added in 1938. The building originally opened in 1927 as B.H. Dyas Specialty Emporium before becoming the keystone to the Broadway Department Store chain. The building was prominently featured in the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times (1936) as well as many other films.

The converted building includes 96 loft condominiums with interiors redesigned by Kelly Wearstler Interior Design, with residential conversion being handled by Killefer Flammang Architects. Open floor plans include large private balconies and terraces in some of the lofts, which range from 931 to over 2,000 square feet.

The ten-story Broadway Hollywood Building’s construction in 1928 helped to usher in a spatial shift that opened the doors for large-scale retail development outside of downtown Los Angeles. It also was the first department store to introduce women’s slacks. The new loft residences occupy the top eight floors of the structure.

It has been rumored that Howard Hughes kept an apartment on the top floor of The Broadway and that there was a secret underground tunnel leading to his office at The Pantages Theatre.

Built by local businessman Frank R. Strong and designed in the Classical Revival Style by architect Frederick Rice Dorn, the building initially housed the B. H. Dyas Company Department Store. The move by B. H. Dyas to Hollywood was the first case of a department store developing a branch outside of the downtown core and helped to cement the idea of Hollywood as a retail destination. The move also worked to erase the idea of a central commercial core in Los Angeles and paved the way for large retail expansion into other areas of the city. Hurt by the beginning of the Great Depression, B. H. Dyas was unable to maintain a store in both Hollywood and in downtown, and in 1931 it left the Hollywood location.

Realizing the potential of the prime Hollywood & Vine location, The Broadway Department Store took over the building’s 30-year lease for $2 million. The store filled a void in the market by offering merchandise for a more upscale clientele now working in Hollywood’s film and finance industries. In 1938, fueled by increased revenues, The Broadway Department Store constructed a seven-story addition to the building’s south side providing 52,000 square feet of additional retail space. The new addition was designed by local architects John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson in the Streamline Moderne Style, characterized by the absence of ornamentation and an emphasis on smooth wall surfaces, rounded corners, flat roofs and linear elements that give a horizontal emphasis. The addition contrasted with the classical style of the original structure that used decorative cornices and terra cotta pilasters for an elaborately decorated façade. To unify the disparate exteriors of the two halves, a colonnade, typical of the classical style, is used on the ground level for both the old and new structure. The effect creates a seamless transition. The top two stories of the building are decorated with Corinthian-styled columns that stand on a projecting beltcourse. Atop the main building is the large, metal-formed, neon sign reading: “The Broadway Hollywood.”

The interior of The Broadway Hollywood Building underwent several reconfigurations and adaptations as warranted, with the most significant changes coming in the 1960s and after The Broadway Department Store left the building in the 1970s. The building was adapted to office use during the 1980s. Additional changes to the ground level storefronts were made at the time and are still visible today.

The Broadway Hollywood Building has been listed on the California and National Historical Registers. As such, it is a Mills Act property which greatly reduces property taxes for it’s residents.