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Preservation: Hancock Motors Building

November 10, 1994

The Hancock Motors building at 500 E. Anaheim St. was the first Art Deco building in Long Beach. Designed by Cecil Schilling in 1928, it now faces demolition because the earthquake reinforcement mandated by the city has not been completed.

Its owners have filed for bankruptcy. It is in receivership now, and the building will be repossessed by its lenders on Dec. 15. They hope to sell the building to someone who will comply with the city code. But if no buyers are forthcoming, they will demolish it.

The Hancock Motors building has been designated as a Long Beach landmark by the Cultural Heritage Commission. It is architecturally important and is an early example of the Art Deco style in Southern California.

Both the exterior and interior of Hancock Motors are in an excellent state of preservation. Only the wrought-iron grillwork is missing from the facade. The showroom retains its original light fixture. Exterior ornaments and friezes were influenced by sculptural designs at the 1925 Exposition Des Art Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris.

Rams' heads with hanging garlands are placed at the oblique corners of the structures, while a relief panel with the flowing fountain motif is found above the main entrance on Anaheim Street. Piers capped with geometric devices flank the openings on the Linden Avenue elevation.

Originally the building housed a Hupmobile dealership and most recently it was an auto body shop. It could easily be adaptively used, for example, as a community art gallery. The large, well-lit space of the former showroom would be an excellent area for displaying works of art.

Louise Ivers

Professor of Art

Cal State Dominguez Hills

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