Douglas Building

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257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA

Douglas Building

The unique Douglas Building curves around the corner of Third and Spring.
Building Information
Developer Thomas Douglas Stimson
Architect James and Merritt Reid
Number of Units 50
Number of Floors 5
Year Built 1898
Construction Method Concrete
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257 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA
Distance to Public Transit Nearly 50 options nearby
Region Los Angeles
Municipality Los Angeles
Zoning C4-4D
Title of Land Condominium



The five-story Douglas Building was built in 1898 and refurbished as apartments in 2005. The building was developed by Thomas Douglas Stimson and built by architects James and Merritt Reid. T.D. Stimson was one of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles, a lumber baron, and real estate mogul. He is responsible for fostering significant commercial development in Los Angeles in the 1890's. His vision for the Douglas Building was as a flagship office building of eight stories. It would be across the street from his other "skyscraper", the six-story Stimson Block (demolished in 1963 to make way for a parking lot). Stimson died unexpectedly before the building plans for the Douglas Building were completed. His family, however, completed a scaled-down version of his vision as a memorial to him.

The Douglas Building become known as one of Los Angeles' best office buildings and it commanded some of the highest rents in the city. For many years it was the chief ticket office of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Other tenants included Desmond's Men's Store and Eagleson's Men's Store.[1]

During the later part of the twentieth century, the building became grossly neglected and in the 1970's the fire department ordered it closed, except for the ground floor shops. The current owner considered demolishing it, but as the demand for housing in the downtown core heated up, developer Goodwin Gaw bought the building and hired Rockefeller Partners Architects to restore it. The work began in 2005. Architect Rocky Rockefeller first impression as related in an LA Times article: "It had been run by pigeons and rats."

The renovations were difficult and costly. They included problems such as a flooded basement, ventilation issues in the basement, and the removal of false ceilings and floor coverings from the 1950's and 60's. Rockefeller Partners Architects, however, were determined to maintain the historic integrity of the building and they went as far as to have workmen restore the original floor tiles, which had been discolored by glues from linoleum and carpet, by sitting on their knees and shaving off one-fortieth of an inch of the tiles with hand-held grinders. They also were lucky to find an original wooden door sealed in a modern Sheetrock wall. This allowed them to copy the original chrome mail slot and doorknob, and have them installed throughout the building. Despite difficulties, the renovations were completed only five months late with many of the original 1898 details restored.[2]

In 2009, the Douglas Building was recognized as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.


A 1920 view of the Douglas Building

The Douglas Lofts are located on the corner of Third and Spring Street in the historic core district of Los Angeles. The Historic Core is a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles between Hill and Main streets on the west and east, and 3rd and 9th street on the north and south. In the 1940's and 50's Los Angeles' downtown area slowly began to decline. Many of the financial institutes moved and the area became known for prostitution and drugs. In 1999, the Los Angeles City Council passed an Adaptive Re-Use Ordinance, allowing for the conversion of old, unused office buildings to apartments or "lofts." This began the dramatic turn around of the area which is now known for it's converted loft residences, restaurants, shops, and cafes.

The Douglas Building has easy freeway access as well as plentiful bus options. It is also two blocks away from the Metro red line station. It's a walking distance to Grand Central Market and many cultural attractions, restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes. [3]


The five-story Douglas Building was built in 1898 by architects James and Merritt Reid. Their design followed a Romanesque Revival style with carved stone, terra cotta, and tan bricks over a concrete core.

The first floor of the building is defined by horizontal bands of masonry with decorative terra cotta panels interspersed. The shaft of the building is of stone. The building is defined by it's curve at the corner of Third and Spring Street and it's many windows. Second story windows are set into molded stone and have decorative terra cotta window heads. The third and fourth story windows are simpler, with stone sills and a small stone lintel above the fourth story windows. On the fifth story, windows are slightly inset and surrounded by brick piers with molded capitals. A blank frieze topped with a molded cornice lines the classical roofline. [4]

Layout and Features

The Douglas Building features many historical architectural details such as high ceilings, exposed brick walls, restored double-hung windows, and historic tile and hardwood flooring. In addition, corner units have operable, curved windows. Several of the penthouse units also have spiral staircases leading to a study that is open to the living area below.

The historic details are complemented by many state-of-the-art modern features such as kitchens by Poggen Pohl and bathrooms by Waterworks. There is also central air conditioning and heat, washer and dryer hook-ups, and high-speed internet connections. [5]

Floor Plans

The Douglas Building includes many unique floor plans. Floors two through four have studio and one bedroom lofts between 735 and 1,275 square feet. The penthouses on the fifth floor range from 735 to 1,450 square feet.


Building amenities include:

  • 24-hour security
  • Gated pet-friendly mini-park
  • Secure underground and street-level parking
  • Great city views
  • Authentic 19th century facade
  • Original 1898 details inside including a marble staircase and huge second story skylight stretching to the top of the building.


Douglas Building Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No

  • This building allows pets
  • The building allows rentals
  • No restrictions on age are placed on residents


The Douglas Building is a historic 1898 building and was therefore not designed as a green building. Residents seeking to shrink their carbon footprint can do so by taking public transportation, which is easily accessible, or making use of the excellent bike lanes in the area. The building's proximity to all restaurants, bars, markets, and cafes also always residents to chose walking when seeking out these amenities. [6]


The Douglas Building was named after developer Thomas Douglas Stimson
  • Because it is a historic landmark, the Douglas Building qualifies for Mills Act property tax exemptions.
  • In 2005, renovators of the Douglas Building found a 30-foot-long, cast-iron steam engine in the basement- with its hulking 100-horsepower tubular boilers, brass fittings and original green paint still intact. The steam engine had heated the Douglas offices and the nearby Bradbury Building through the underground tunnels when the buildings were first built.[7]
  • T.D. Stimson, the developer of Douglas Building, built the most expensive mansion in the city and erected one of Los Angeles' first office towers during the 1890's.
  • The Douglas Building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as part of the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District. [8]


  1. Douglas Building Lofts website
  2. LA Times: LA's Reticent Relics
  3. Walk Score
  4. Downtown MLS: Douglas Building
  5. Douglas Building Lofts
  6. Walk Score
  7. LA Times: LA's Reticent Relics
  8. Zimas Historical Preservation Review

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