(Original view from the USC Archives**)
THE CHOCOLATE SHOPPE/CHOCOLATE SHOP #4--LOS ANGELES, CA
(Almost Lost, but being restored in 2012!)
Title of Installation:
The Chocolate Shoppe
"While not much to look at on the outside, the inside of this four-story building in downtown Los Angeles is another matter entirely (see the interior photos at the Big Orange Landmarks blog*, they turned out way better than mine did). This address has been known since January 1975 as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark number 137. A stroll through its doors reveal walls and ceiling covered in beautiful tiles by Ernest Batchelder which date back to 1914 when this location served as a confectionary shop/cafe known as Chocolate Shop #4... .
The building was leased in late 1913 by the Chocolate Shop Corporation (which consisted of E.C. Quinby, son P.W. Quinby and W.M. Petitfils) and work began to renovate the ground floor into 'one of the finest confectionary shops on the Coast' (renovation of the ground floor was estimated at $40,000 in 1913, which would be about $850,000 today). The three upper floors were to be changed into lofts." (http://laheyday.blogspot.com/search/label/217%20W.%206th)
The Chocolate Shoppe, which was Batchelder’s biggest commission up until that time , was/is completely covered in his chocolatey brown work--floor, walls, and ceiling, with larger tiles – around 4” x 4” – laid into the walls while bigger murals beneath the groined arches are more mosaic. The Shoppe was to serve as a prototype for a whole chain of soda parlors, each with a different European country as its theme. For whatever reason – some say it was the high cost of Batchelder’s work – this never came to pass, and the 6th Street location was the first and last Chocolate Shoppe.* Opened in 1914 to satisfy the new fad for hot chocolate, the architectural firm of Plummer and Feil commissioned ceramic tile-maker Ernest Batchelder to do the interior. The tiles, all made in Batchelder's Pasadena studio, were sculptured with fanciful Dutch scenes...the windmillls of Holland, dairy maids in wooden shoes, chandeliers of glass milk buckets, etc.**
Technical Information (Size,mfg., etc.):
From the Los Angeles Times, July 13, 1986:
"The tiled interior remains intact and flawless, just as Batchelder conceived it--in the somber and luminous shades of brown of his Arts & Crafts period. It incorporates a series of panels in bas-relief depicting a Dutch boy and girl, windmills and landscapes, including the water gate at Hooen.
An account in a 1924 issue of Western Architect reveals that the shop was a remodel of the first floor of an existing building. The architect, Plummer & Feil of Los Angeles, designed the whole interior [in 1914] as if it were an independent structure, leaving only the main supports for the upper floors.
The entire rear part of the shop was ingeniously built around interior columns and from piers against the walls, with groined arches of reinforced concrete and totally covered with tile by Batchelder; no windows were provided and the whole was arranged for artificial lighting and ventilation." Evelyn De Wolfe***
According to Batchelder historian Robert Winter, the cocoa-brown interior was modeled after a "kind of German bierstube, with arches and vaults covered with tiles."****
Year Installed, if different:
Does Installation Still Exist?Only partially at this time. Many of the tile panels had been covered when the area was subdivided into retail stalls until early in 2012. The tile installations were declared an historic-cultural monument by the City of Los Angeles in 1975, however, they had since been neglected, and it is doubtful that the tiled counters, murals and figures still fully exist. In early 2012 the space was taken over by a new owner whose intent is to restore the space to its 1914 state and function as a Dutch Chocolate Shoppe. Here is a link to a 30 minute YouTube video by LAVA (the Los Angeles Visionaries Association) about the past history and reopening of the Chocolate Shoppe in May 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1I8Gewd-UA. Another website that shows some of the uncovered tile work is http://countdowntobatchelder.com/.
Location of Installation:
217 West 6th Street, first floor interior
Directions to Installation:
Additional Information, Websites, Citations:
“Historic Site Compromised: Chocolate Shop in Los Angeles Defaced” in Flash Point, Vol. 7, Nos. 3 & 4, July-December 1994, p. 3.
Joseph A. Taylor, “Ernest Allan Batchelder: Craftsman Turns Entrepreneur” in Flash Point, Vol. 5, No. 4, October-December 1992.
https://digital.lib.washington.edu/architect/architects/523/ (Architects' database)
http://balboaterrace.org/Documents/batchelder.pdf (Ernest Batchelder, tilemaker)
A brief article about three tiled confectionary shops in Los Angeles has one contemporary (1915) photo of the tiled counter of the Chocolate Shop: "Where Brick and Tile Enhance Interiors" by Charles Alma Byers in Brick and Clay Record, Vol. XLVI, No. 8, April 20, 1915, pp. 762-763.
Submitted by and Year:
Michael Padwee (tileback101"at"collector.org), September 2010 and December 2012.