By Edwin Folven, 8/19/2010
The West Hollywood City Council on Monday designated a 1940s-era apartment building on Horn Avenue near Sunset Boulevard as a cultural historic resource. The decision was made after a lengthy review by the city Historic Preservation Commission, and ensures no major structural changes will be made to the building in the future.
The building, located at 1127 N. Horn Ave., is named the Sunset Patios and was designed by architect Edward H. Fickett, FAIA. Fickett is a well-known Southern California architect, having designed more than 60,000 homes and buildings in the region during a career spanning more than six decades. Fickett, who died in 1999, designed numerous residences, apartment complexes and commercial buildings in West Hollywood and the surrounding area, but only five or six are known to still exist today — most have been razed or developed as new projects.
Fickett’s widow, Joycie Fickett, said she was grateful the West Hollywood City Council agreed the Sunset Patios building was historically significant, and added that she hopes more of his works can be preserved.
“I think Eddie would have been very pleased,” Fickett said. “It was one of the places he designed where the movie stars stayed when filming in L.A. James Dean and Ava Gardner stayed there. I think the city realized that out of thirty seven buildings my husband designed in West Hollywood, only a handful are left.”
Edward Fickett established an office at 7421 Beverly Blvd. in 1944, which was his headquarters until his death. His widow said that following his death, the office was maintained by associates he had worked with until last April. She said Fickett was once so busy designing buildings in West Hollywood that he opened a satellite office at 9026 Melrose Ave. to be closer to the area. In addition to private residences and apartment buildings, Fickett designed public facilities such as West Hollywood Park and the West Hollywood Library. Other prominent structures in the local area include the Spago restaurant and the former Tower Records building on Sunset Boulevard. His projects utilized windows and openings to make occupants feel as if they are outside. The Sunset Patios building, which was built in 1949, was determined to have many features such as windows and open kitchens that were indicative of Fickett’s classic designs.
John Keho, planning manager for the City of West Hollywood, said the Sunset Patios is an example of the multi-family apartment buildings that were built in the area during the 1940s. The building features modernist style architecture configured around a central courtyard, which was common in Fickett’s apartment building designs. All units feature private patios, a Fickett hallmark.
“This is one of the earlier examples,” Keho said. “It is a modernist apartment building, irregular in shape with a swimming pool, which became common after World War II.”
Fickett owned a company that developed light fixtures, and each property featured different models. He also always chose the furnishings for his buildings, which at Sunset Patios, included monogrammed bed comforters, some of which still exist today in the apartments, according to his widow.
Edward Levin, the chair of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, said the commission agreed that Sunset Patios was a prime example of Fickett’s work in the city. Levin said the historic designation prevents alterations from being made to the exterior of the building. He added that the commission now plans to consider more buildings built between the early 1940s through 1961 that are examples of post-World War II architecture.
“Each era brings with it distinctive developments of architecture, and this apartment building is representative of the post-war designs that were once commonly built by Edward Fickett. This is quite a lovely example of that,” Levin said. “Very little has changed. It still retains its integrity. A few fences were changed, but it still has the original signage. You can see what this was like when it was built.”
Levin said the commission will be considering additional buildings designed by Fickett in the coming months, including a building at 1128 N. Larrabee St. and another at 1285 N. Sweetzer Ave. Joycie Fickett said she is hopeful city leaders will view the other properties as also being important historic architectural examples.
“Other cities of the world respect renowned architectural works and save them, rather than destroying them and putting up these big concrete buildings without any love,” Fickett said. “Eddie’s buildings were built with love and consideration, and are worth saving.”