Dan Soderberg Photography

Vintage Bus – Vintage Burger Joint

mcdonalds-downey-vw-buss_alt_dsc0249World’s oldest McDonald’s – Downey, CA The site also features a sit down dining area in addition to the walk up windows. And there is the McDonald’s History Museum. The billboard on the right urges motorists to not let history pass you by – stop in for a burger and visit the museum.


Randy’s Donuts – Inglewood, CA


Built in 1953 as the Big Donut Drive In this Los Angeles landmark is an example of programatic/thematic  architecture that was once a rage in Southern California. An architecture related to roadside convenience for freeway laden modern society. There’s a great book by Jim Heimann and Rip Geoges about this type of architecture titled California Crazy – Roadside Vernacular Architecture. Chronicling the times when architecture was allowed to be distinctive and fun.

Dan Soderberg Photography

The Rock House

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It’s a house likely everyone who lives in the historic neighborhoods from University Heights to Kensington and Talmadge recognize. It’s the Rock House perched right at the edge of Normal Heights. This historic neighborhood, Normal Heights, is my ‘hood, and it can now boast having a new addition to the City of San Diego Register of Historic Sites. So deemed by the City of San Diego Historic Resources Board on July 28, 2016.

Only one recalcitrant boardmember didn’t view it as historic because he quibbled over whether it could be classified as an example of craftsmanship. That was Tom Larimer.

Of course he doesn’t understand craftsmanship because his architectural training only involves plastic tack-ons used to decorate the nondescript stucco boxes which he “designs”. In his world facade design isn’t particularly special or unique – it’s a cookie cutter process.  So he doesn’t posses the ability to recognize craftsmanship when he sees it.

He was not reappointed to the Historic Resources Board by City Council for good reason. He simply isn’t qualified to evaluate San Diego history or its architecture. He might have some knowledge of architecture in Michigan where he came from. But as far as San Diego is concerned he doesn’t know squat.

He came to be appointed to the Historic Resources Board under Mayor Jerry Sanders using a trumped up resume which nobody bothered to inquire about when was considered for the appointment. In his time on the board, he has done significant damage to San Diego’s cultural heritage and history. The day can’t come soon enough for the current Mayor to put forward an appointment to replace him. Someone who has a demonstrated interest in preservation and San Diego history. Not someone going out of their way intentionally to obstruct or wreck the process as Larimer has done.

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The Rock House is a one story, single-family residence constructed in 1926 in the Mission Revival Style with a slight Spanish Eclectic influence using native cobblestones.

The historic designation cites the house’s featured cobblestone façade as a valuable example of the use of natural materials and craftsmanship. Again Larimer didn’t see any craftsmanship whatsoever. He argued “veneers” are nothing special.  Wow.

Far from being the cheap looking plastic tack-ons, Mr. Larimer is only familiar with in his world, here one can look with amazement how far the stones seem to protrude from where they are placed. Almost cantilevering out. Sturdy it must be however, as this year marks the 90th year of the Rock House looking over Adams Avenue. Yes, Mr Larimer, that is craftsmanship.

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The Rock House is a one story, single-family residence constructed in 1926 in the Mission Revival Style with a slight Spanish Eclectic influence using native cobblestones.

The historic designation cites the house’s featured cobblestone facade as a valuable example of the use of natural materials and craftsmanship. Again Larimer didn’t see any craftsmanship whatsoever. Wow.

Far from being the cheap looking plastic tack-ons that Mr. Larimer is familiar with his his world, here one can look with amazement how far the stones seem to protrude from where they are anchored in the building. Almost cantilevering out. Sturdy it is however, as this year marks the 90th year of the Rock House looking over Adams Avenue. All the hallmarks of craftsmanship, Mr. Larimer.

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An interior fireplace is also constructed of cobblestones and is included in this designation.
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The stones are loosely laid in courses and give the appearance of quoins at the building’s corners. Note the stone chimney.

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The windows are all double hung, one-over-one with wood frames except for an arched three-part focal window.
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The center window of the trio is a single fixed pane and is flanked by two 14-light fixed-3-pane windows. Above, an arched row of cobblestones further articulates the shape of the feature.
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The house is also accented by round clay tile attic vents grouped together in sets of three.

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Analysis for this designation mentions California was the birthplace of the Mission Revival Style and a high concentration of landmark examples are located within the state.

The style mimics the appearance of Spanish Colonial mission buildings and is considered the California counterpart to Georgian inspired Colonial Revival in the northeast.

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The historically designated Rock House fireplace
Architects began to advocate the style in the late 1880’s and 1890’s. By 1900 houses in

this style were spreading eastward from California under the influence of fashionable architects and national builders’ magazines.

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Commonly found features of the Mission Revival style include:

Mission-shaped dormer or roof parapet, red tile roof covering; widely overhanging eaves, porch
roofs supported by large square piers and smooth stucco wall finishes.
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Decorative detailing is generally absent although arches, quatrefoil windows, carved stonework and patterned tiles are occasionally used.

Trends began to shift away from the Mission style to the Spanish Eclectic with its debut at the Panama California Exposition of 1915.

All descriptions noted here can be found in the City’s analysis and recommendation for The Rock house to be considered historic.


Diary of Helen Hussey

Picnic in San Jose – Lot of Fun

Diary of Helen Hussey

Fillmore Hotel 1936

Shopping along Fillmore Street and the New Fillmore Hotel on the right. Image source: http://newfillmore.com “The New Fillmore – The Latest News From The Heart And Soul Of San Francisco.” Robert F. Oaks the the author of the Arcadia published “San Francisco’s Filmore District.” https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/9780738529882/San-Franciscos-Fillmore-District

Wednesday November 8, 1939 “Went to the bank and post office. Money Order came from Ruth McKales. Sent receipt and final payment on tires! Matinee at the Alexandria. Nite – Sam and I to Fillmore to buy dinner for tomorrow. Bought some Port.


On the marquee “Tea And Sympathy” starring Deborah Kerr. It was released November 5, 1956. Image source: Richmond Street Blog

From Cinema Treasures

The Alexandria Theatre opened on November 26, 1923 with Douglas MacLean in “Going Up.” It was built at a cost of $350,000 by Oppenheimer & (Alex) Levin; Reid Brothers were the architects. From the beginning, it was one of the Richmond district’s leading second-run theaters.

In 1941, it underwent extensive remodeling, emerging totally Moderne, with only the original stone pillars on its corner facade still exhibiting evidence of its original Egyptian roots.

It re-opened on June 19, 1942, but due to wartime blackout restrictions, much of its new neon elegance had to be subdued until sometime later. In the late-1950’s it was upgraded to a first run 70MM, reserved seat policy premiering such roadshow attractions as South Pacific (48 weeks), Exodus (20 weeks), Can Can (19 weeks), El Cid (21 weeks), The Longest Day (19 weeks),Cleopatra (56 weeks) & Oliver! (43 weeks).

On November 24, 1976, it re-opened as Alexandria 3, with the former balcony and loge sections converted into two separate, smaller auditoriums, but with the original downstairs section more or less intact.

Beneath the remodeling, rumor has it that the original dome and atmospheric ceiling still exists, retaining its twinkling lights, or at least the sockets, and that behind the bland walls of the lobby one can still see lotus-topped columns and colorful hieroglyphics.

The theater closed in the beginning of 2004 and its future is uncertain.

The Golden Gate Theater

Ritz Brothers The Gorilla

Image Source: Amazon

Thursday November 9, 1939 “To town and bought shirts and shorts for Sam. Went to the Golden Gate and saw the Marx Ritz Brothers. Very funny. Marc out with Sam for dinner. Phil stopped in tonight.”

Friday November 10, 1939 “Busy morning. Shampoo and bathed Bijou. Washed, shopped, etc. Walked in the park. Nite met Sam and dinner at Hotel Espanol. Stopped at Tony’s. She’s not feeling so well. Home and port. Sam doesn’t have to work tomorrow. Found a parking ticket on the car. Pacific.

Hotel Espanol. 2016-02-05 18.58

Hotel Espanol was at 719 Broadway. There is no 719 there anymore – probably demo’ed. The highest number on the corner building goes to 715.  The peach color stucco building next to it is number 777. Google maps points to the empty space of an alley for 719. Nothing there.

Saturday November 11, 1939 “Jeanne and I to town. Had to walk from Civic Center on account of the Armistice Day parade. Bought new hat, sweater for Jeanne. Nite Ruth and Bill came in. Quite a binge. They brought a bike, etc.”

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Sunday November 12, 1939 “Tony, Jeanne, Ruth, Duke, and I to see Winchester House. Picnic in San Jose – lot of fun. Beautiful country. Home about 3:30. Nite gabbed and beer. Bed about 11:30.

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Monday November13, 1939 “Ruth and Bill left about 9. Met Tony at 5 and to the Palace Hotel. Saw Boys of Brazil band. To Jacopetti’s for sandwiches. Then to the Curran – first night of Taming of the Shrew, Lunt and Fontaine. Swell!!

Stanford_Daily_Taming Of The Shrew

Standford Daily

Tuesday November 14, 1939 “Ironed in the morning. Then shopped, library, and walked Bijou in the park. Afternoon and Nite, Read + Radio.”


Bradbury Building – 21st Century Vision

It was a building inspired by a vision of the 21st century depicted in an 1888 novel. Then 94 years later was depicted in a film vision of the 21st century.


Image: Creative Commons

The street view doesn’t quite reveal the characteristics of a future vision. The building’s facade is clearly an Italian Rennaissance Revial, Romanesque Revival design of its time (1894).


Image: Creative Commons

You might walk by without ever knowing what lies beyond the arched entry.


Image: Creative Commons

But the inside – that’s another story. It was the shared dream of two men. Lewis Bradbury who had a specific philosophy and ideas of what he wanted built. And the young man whom Bradbury met – they shared that philosophy and those ideas. He was George Herbert Wyman – who wasn’t even an architect, but draftsman by trade. Their common vision stemmed from a futuristic novel called Looking Backward 1887 – 2000 by George Herbert Wyman.

Lewis Bradbury



Image: Creative Commons

Bellamy’s futuristic structures in Looking Backward were described as “vast halls filled with light.” The Bradbury building has a glass roof which baths the entire central portion of the interior in daylight. The railings, balconies and supporting columns are made of iron. The resulting effect is a suspended, floating illusion of interior elements.

It stands as one of the most distinctive and remarkable interiors of any office building ever constructed.


Images: Creative Commons

The Bradbury interiors inspired by a Utiopian future depicted in Looking Backward by Edward Belamy.

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It is a curious twist in the history of the building that 94 years later it again would be part of another science fiction spin of the 21st Century – the 1982 film The Blade Runner.

The building not only attracted the producers of Blade Runner. There have been dozens of other Film, Television, and Commercial productions that have used the Bradbury Building as a set.


Image: Dan Soderberg

Louis Bradbury died before his building was complete. His dedication to creating his lasting legacy notwithstanding, even he likely wouldn’t dare imagine how the building would continue to inspire and fascinate well into the 21st century.

The Bradbury Building is located on Broadway at 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA