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85 Years Ago: Razor Magnate Pays $1.5 Million for Corner of 6th and Olive

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 01:40PM
Southeast corner, 6th & Olive Dick Whittington Studio / USC Digital Archives [digitallibrary.usc.edu]

This two-story structure on the southeast corner of 6th and Olive was purchased in 1924 by King C. Gillette. Here it is shown after a 1935 renovation.



On November 10, 1924, safety razor magnate King C. Gillette wrote a check for $1.475 million to purchase the southeast corner of 6th and Olive from the estate of the late Mrs. Mary H. Spires.

The purchase, which the Los Angeles Times called "one of the biggest spot-cash realty deals in the history of the city," looks to have been a bust for Gillette. His widow sold the site, which now contains a 1960s City National Bank tower, just ten years later for approximately $500,000.

In 1921, Spires had built a two-story building on the lot, and Gillette immediately announced plans to tear it down and construct "one of the most monumental office buildings in the city," according to the Times.

Leases in the building ran until 1931, however, and Gillette elected to let them run out before starting work. In the meantime, he had building plans drawn up by Parkinson & Parkinson. Gillette announced a 99-year-lease with the head of Western National Bank in May of 1929, but the national economy may have acted to crush construction plans there.

Gillette passed away in 1932, and his widow, Atlanta E. Gillette, sold the property to the Property Services Corporation in November of 1934. While the exact purchase price was not disclosed, it was said to be roughly one-third the original price the Gillettes had paid.

The new owners quickly announced a $125,000 modern facelift for the now 14-year-old building.

They didn't hold onto it long, turning around and selling the property to Union Pacific in March of 1937 for $1,000,000. The railroad had recently leased the ground floor for its ticket office.

It wasn't until 1963 that the property next changed hands. Union Pacific sold the site to City National Bank, which then erected the tower on the corner today.

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