Spring Street’s revival spreads to a downtown landmark: the Trust Building

By Roger Vincent | LA Times

The blocks of Spring Street south of City Hall lagged behind other parts of the Historic Core in downtown’s economic recovery of the last two decades.

But now the area is experiencing a burst of real estate development expected to bring tourists, residents and office workers to the neighborhood, long associated with urban decay.

In a milestone for downtown’s Historic Core, an office building designed in the 1920s by two of L.A.'s most prominent architects has been restored for duty on a recovering stretch of Spring Street a few blocks from City Hall.

The Art Deco-style tower opened in 1928 as the headquarters of the Title Insurance and Trust Co., one of the city’s biggest financial institutions in an era when Spring Street was hailed as the “Wall Street of the West.”

By the mid-1970s, however, the city’s top white-collar firms were moving closer to the Harbor Freeway and the Historic Core, the city’s original downtown, was going to seed. In 1977 a Times columnist lamented that with the title company’s pending departure, “the last of the great fiscal headquarters leaves Spring Street.”

In recent years the imposing structure, designed to signal prestige and power with its finishes of marble, brass and black walnut, has been used primarily as a filming location for period pieces and fantasies such as “Batman.”