Neighborhood Fixture seeks to provide a bit of history and background about buildings and sites that catch our attention, for better or worse.
Most Echo Park residents probably know this property at the southwest corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard as the home of Fashion of Echo Park or the Hollyway Cleaners building. The three-story building – which includes two floors of apartments above the storefronts – was built in 1924 in the Renaissance Revival Style, according to a city sponsored historic resources survey. However, a check on county assessor information shows that the structure might composed of two buildings, one dating back to 1907. The interior offers few clues of the building’s past, with the apartments having been gutted after they sat vacant for more than a decade. Outside, however, the building’s skin of simulated stone blocks gives the building of an imposing albeit dusty fortress.
This high profile, neighborhood corner has seen numerous businesses come and go, including A. Seargeant Grocer and Meats; Trank’s Nut House; Crew’s Echo Park Furniture Co. & Samuel Pazen’s Dry Goods. The Hollyway Cleaners has been a tenant for more than 50 years. A Los Angeles Times story from January 1963 said that the owner of the cleaners, Milton Chortkoff, boosted annual sales from $40,000 in 1954 to about $250,000. How did he do it? A focus on customer service and a gimmick, the Times explains:
“Gimmicks also are an important part of his operation. Besides working behind the counter himself and greeting nearly everyone by name, he hands out boxes of candy, perfume, flowers and even initialed half-handkerchiefs for the breast pocket of men’s suits.”
Address: 1157 Echo Park Avenue, Echo Park
Built: 1924 & 1907
* Update: Kevin Kuzma, President of the Echo Park Historical Society (The Eastsider is a board member) found a 1920s advertisement (pictured at right) for a hand-operated concrete block machine, which would have been similar to the machines used to make the concrete veneer of 1157 Echo Park Avenue.