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THE BEAUTIFUL... | So SoCal

60-second appraisal

The Gilmore Adobe

September 21, 1997|Danny Feingold

From humble origins it became the seat of a gas and oil empire whose idiosyncratic promotional images dotted the Western landscape. The kingdom has been downsized, but the Gilmore Adobe endures.

Nestled between Farmers Market and CBS studios, shielded from public view by a fortress of foliage, the Gilmore Adobe dates to 1852. Originally called the Rancho La Brea Adobe, it became the home of rancher-turned-oilman Arthur F. Gilmore, whose brilliantly eccentric son Earl turned the Gilmore Oil Co. into a legendary part of America's burgeoning car culture.

Today the adobe serves as headquarters for the A.F. Gilmore Co.,owner and operator of Farmers Market (as well as the adjacent Gilmore Bank). The building is an elegant hybrid of California Mission and Spanish Colonial, reflecting a series of renovations over the past century. Earl Gilmore's bedroom--remarkably small for a titan of modern capitalism--remains frozen in time, complete with his extensive pipe collection and elaborately designed horse saddle. Outside, terra-cotta tiles adorn a courtyard where Rudolph Valentino preened for the camera in "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." Chickens roam the northern side of the property, while a pair of towering Mexican fan palms keep watch on the eastern edge. From the grounds, one can conjure 19th century Los Angeles--a city without cars or freeways or smog, awaiting men like Earl Gilmore and the onslaught of the future.

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