I’m not sure if the powers that be are deciding its time to start showing off one of the city’s archi-cultural treasures, or more than likely someone just failed to lock the place up, but when my wife and I went down to enjoy the Chinese American Museum’s fifth annual Lantern Festival yeserday at El Puebla de Los Angeles we chanced upon finding the 136-year-old Pico House wide open with access to practically every square inch of the landmark thoroughly unrestricted ‚Äî even the roof!
Brief backstory: Pico House was completed in 1870, and was the city’s first three-story building. It was also considered the finest hotel throughout the southwest in its day, boasting “bathrooms and water closets for both sexes” on each floor. It was financed by Pio Pico, the last governor of Mexican California, who sold his land in the San Fernando Valley to build it. Pico House was designed by Ezra F. Kysor (who I believe was also the architect of St. Vib’s Cathedral) and had 82 rooms. Pico lost the building to foreclosure in 1880 and from 1892-1920 it was called the National Hotel. The facade was restored in the 1960s and additional interior work was done in 1980-81.
One of the most exciting surprises was finding the building surrounds a marvelous central interior courtyard, pictured at right (click to biggify). I’ve uploaded other images from our unathorized explorations to a photoset on Flickr.com that can be viewed here: