Boyle Heights Reclaims an Important Landmark

Historic Boyle Hotel Reopens
The oldest remaining commercial building in Boyle Heights is set prominently at the intersection of First and Boyle, outlined against a backdrop of downtown Los Angeles skyscrapers.
The Boyle Hotel/Cummings Block (Boyle Hotel) recently celebrated its grand reopening and tenants have moved back into their apartments.  The 1889 Victorian-era building, most recently home to mariachi musicians, is located at First Street and Boyle Avenue across from Mariachi Plaza and the Gold Line Metro station.  As historic preservation consultant on the project, Chattel worked with nonprofit developer East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) and architect Richard Barron to restore the building’s distinctive corner cupola, rehabilitate 30 affordable units in the historic building and add 21 units in a new addition, and 4,150 square feet of retail space that includes a Mariachi Cultural Center.

Settled by Andrew A. Boyle in 1857, Boyle Heights is located east of downtown Los Angeles and west of the Los Angeles city boundary.  Boyle’s son-in-law, William Henry Workman, was the initial developer of this early Los Angeles suburb and is considered the father of Boyle Heights. 
David Workman, a descendent of W.H. Workman, pictured here with Chattel’s Principal Associate, Jenna Snow and Diana Ybarra, Founding President of the Boyle Heights Historical Society, was present at the Boyle Hotel’s reopening celebration.
When constructed in 1889 by George Cummings, the Boyle Hotel reflected expansion and growth outside the commercial core.  The building represents a transition at the end of the nineteenth century when Los Angeles went from a town surrounded by farmland to a burgeoning city center surrounded by suburban neighborhoods.  

The Boyle Hotel shortly after construction.
Source: David Workman
In 1895, a trolley car linked downtown Los Angeles with the new suburb of Boyle Heights.
Source: California State Library
Over the years, the Boyle Hotel became home to mariachis, who congregate daily in the nearby Mariachi Plaza waiting to be hired.  It became an important gathering place in Boyle Heights for these musicians, as well as for other social and civic events.  Unfortunately, the hotel had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect and was at risk of being demolished. 
The dilapidated Boyle Hotel in 1997.
Realizing the historic and cultural value to the community, ELACC purchased the building and secured financing for the over $20 million rehabilitation and addition.  Before restoration, tenants of the building were without bathrooms and kitchens in their units, surrounded by a number of hazardous building code violations and subject to pest infestations.  With completed building rehabilitation, tenants now have modern kitchens and bathrooms in each unit and historic fabric has been preserved while modern safety codes and seismic retrofits have been implemented.  On the exterior, historic photographs were used as a guide to restore the building’s iconic corner cupola with conical cap, brick façade, and storefronts.  To assist with the cost of rehabilitation, Chattel is preparing a historic investment tax credit application and writing a National Register of Historic Places nomination to protect the building in the future.

The local landmark’s rehabilitation is one of the signs blossoming around Boyle Heights, signifying changes faced by the neighborhood – revitalization and improved quality of life.   The rehabilitated Boyle Hotel continues to be a legacy for the local community and an important link to its past. 

The rehabilitated Boyle Hotel is a legacy for the local community and an important link to its past.
The story of the Boyle Hotel's rehabilitation was recently featured on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's blog.  Read more at