Friday, March 13, 2009

1/2 of the Grove & Farmer's Market

I say 1/2 because I don't have photos of "The Grove" on the "other side of the tracks". The Los Angeles Farmer's Market, which should not be confused with the Hollywood Farmer's Market is an Los Angeles landmark and has been since the 1930s. Until 10 years ago, when major redevelopment changed the more rustic (or funky) market into the place it is today. Some of the old time stalls are operating but mostly they have been replaced by "newer" retailers. As I have 22 pix of the area, you, dear reader, will see a good portion of the twin markets. Of the two, The Grove is the nicer part. Not more upscale, but each retailer has their own store or kiosk, whereas the Farmer's Market has stalls, side by side. The Farmer's Market is more noisey, and if you want a livlier environment, that's your place. If you want more refined dining, go to The Grove.

The Gilmore Family

In the 1880s Arthur Gilmore purchased a small piece of Rancho La Brea near the old Rocha Adobe. Gilmore used the old adobe as his home and it was there that his son Earl B. Gilmore was born. Gilmore operated a dairy on his farm. In 1903, while drilling a well for artesian water, the dairy farmer found oil instead. He drilled numerous other wells, all bringing in gushers. Soon, the little dairy farm became an oil field with tall wooden derricks, processing structures, and a shantytown to house oil workers. The dairy was sold and the A.F. Gilmore Oil Company was founded.

Arthur's son, Earl B. Gilmore, enlarged Gilmore Oil into the largest independent oil company in the western United States. Earl Gilmore had ample opportunity to live in a huge mansion on a grand estate, but he chose make his home at the little old adobe house where he was born. In the 1920s, the young oil magnate had major improvements made to the aging dwelling, which by then became known as the Gilmore Adobe. Gilmore hired John Byers to restore and remodel the adobe. The north wing and a low second story were added to the original structure. Pitched gable roofs with terra-cotta tiles were also added. The place was modernized to the 1920s standards of living.

Soon the environment around the old adobe started to lose its quiet rural quality and become more updated. In 1934, the Farmer's Market was established at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue, bringing hordes of farmers and consumers together. That same year saw the construction of Gilmore Stadium, an 18,000 capacity sports complex located at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. In 1939, Earl Gilmore opened his newly completed Gilmore Field on the site of his father's first oil field. For several years it served as the home field of the Hollywood Stars, a professional baseball team from the defunct Pacific Coast League. Both Gilmore Stadium and Gilmore Field were torn down to be replaced by the present CBS Television Studios in 1952.

As all this building activity engulfed the area, the Gilmore Adobe had withdrawn into a tiny oasis of trees and grass in the middle of an asphalt covered parking lot. It was kept from almost certain destruction by its owner, Mr. Gilmore. On February 27, 1964, Earl Gilmore died in the same bedroom of the adobe where he was born.

Present Day

On March 6, 1991 the Rancho La Brea Adobe also known as the Gilmore Adobe was designated Los Angeles Cultural and Historical Landmark #534a.

Today, the adobe stands at the end of Gilmore Lane north of 3rd Street and east of Fairfax Avenues on a privately owned parking lot. The adobe his hidden in an oasis of trees and hedges in an expanse of asphalt. It's no longer a residence and now serves as the corporate offices of Farmer's Market. It's not open to the public for display and trespassing is forbidden, but a glimpse an iron barred gate between the thick spruce trees reveals the front of this resplendent adobe. The courtyard, with its beautifully manicured lawn, is completely surrounded by trees and shrubs, so the front gate is the only view available, although it is partially obstructed. From this vantage point, one can see the front "corredor" (porch) shaded from the afternoon sun from the overhang of the red tile roof. This darkened area adorned with potted plants and flowers seems so inviting on a warm summer day.

There is a hope that one day the beauty of this hidden landmark may be opened for the enjoyment of a citizenry that cherishes its historic past.

Private Office Not Open to the Public:

Rancho La Brea Adobe
(Gilmore Adobe)
6333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, Ca.

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