Bunker Noir! details the crime and vice that occurred on the Hill, as well as all manner of dark goings-on: fires, car wrecks, cryptids, train derailments…up to and including its oddball architecture, specifically the roadside vernacular to be had in the early-1930s olde-tymie log cabins built by Kenneth Bemis for his White Log Coffee Shop chain.
The were three on the Hill; two standalones and, for a time, the commercial space just north of Angels Flight—which began life as a vegetarian café, and ended as the Royal Liquor Store—had concrete logs attached to become a White Log. One standalone was at Second and Figueroa; another, built in the autumn of 1933, was at Fifth and Flower.
The image I included in Bunker Noir! of 461 South Flower was okay, and depicted an elderly White Log, in its incarnation as the California Coffee Shop, shortly before its July 1964 demolition by the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Then, today, I stumbled across this nifty image in the online archives of Duke University.
There’s a lot to love in this shot. Behold, the Architects’ Building (with its advertisement, which reminds me of the old line “I drank Canada Dry, so I left”). On its opposite corner is the Monarch Hotel.
And, as we look west on Fifth Street, crossing Flower—
—we espy some Royal Crown Cola signage, competing rather meekly with the Canada Dry ad, on the rear of the Streicher/Striker Apts, which fronts on Figueroa. And then down below:
Note the original color scheme of the chimney and rockwork, before being whitewashed by California Coffee. And the jaggedy edges of its rooftop sign! Finding a vintage shot of this White Log fills me with no end of glee. But when was this shot? Hard to determine precisely, but I’d say into 1942 or thereafter, as we have a ’41 Studebaker driving past the USO Service Women’s Guest House—
In short, White Logs are the coolest. Heck, the Cranky Preservationist even did a video about them!
Hey! I should mention that given its dark and demented content, Bunker Noir! makes a fine Hallowe’en stocking stuffer. Pick up a copy and present it to your loved one before the end of spooky month! Available from the source, of course, but I always suggest you pick up your copy at Vroman’s, because that’s so much more fun (and who also carry the Big Book, by the way).
Postscript—while we’re on the subject, there’s still not a really good image of the White Log next to Angels Flight, nothing I’ve found yet better’n the one I published in Bunker Noir!, but I did turn up this snippet: