Constructed in 1910, the Higgins Building is an early Modernist concrete-framed building designed in the Beaux-Arts style. It was commissioned by Thomas Higgins, an Irish American, as a 10-story building that could be used as office space. He hired architects Albert C. Martin, Sr. and A.L. Haley to handle construction. Although designed as an 8 story high building, it was decided during the construction stage to add two additional floors in order to hold the reputation as being the highest building in the city center.
Backstory and Context
Thomas Higgins was born on 12th July in 1844 in a town called Boyle in County Roscommon, Ireland. He was the son of Patrick Higgins, a farmer, and Hanora Flanagan. Despite his rural roots, he was able to receive some education during his early years in Ireland.
As he grew up, Higgins became disillusioned by his agricultural life in rural Ireland and decided to set sail for America in search of his fortune. He made his way to Troy, Michigan, where he had a family member, Mary Keefe, and was able to find work in the iron mines. After that he found himself in Mosinee, Wisconsin, working as a lumberjack, before moving to Chicago as a ship builder.
When news reached him of the Klondyke Gold Rush, he decided that by the time he got there, there would probably be no gold left for him. Instead, he headed south to St. Louis, Louisiana and became the foreman of a group of Irish contractors. After a while he moved again, this time heading west to the Rocky Mountains. He prospected for gold and diamonds in Oregon and Washington without much success.
He heard that there were fortunes to be won in Peru and Arizona and tossed a coin to decide which direction to go. He made it to Bisbee in 1877 where he found a rich vein of copper which he worked until 1900 when he moved to L.A, where he started a property business. He constructed the Higgins Building in 1910, which was home to many companies. The basement contained a privately owned power plant, six floors were occupied by General Petroleum, and the L.A. Engineer Department called it their home for 25 years.
The building fell into disrepair and was purchased by entrepreneurs Andrew Meieran and Marc Smith. Developer Barry Shy converted the upstairs offices into rental lofts in 2003 (later converted to condominiums in 2005); and Meieran and Smith opened The Edison in 2007, a post-industrial steampunk nightclub in the building's basement.
Higgins Building Lofts. Top LA Condos. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://www.toplacondos.com/Higgins-Building-Lofts.
Trouble at the Higgins Building. LA Downtown News. September 20, 2004. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/trouble-at-the-higgins-building/article_13bf647e-6361-5690-8059-5066e7be04da.html.
What in the Hell is Going On with The Higgins Building? Mills Act Lofts Not a Panacea. LO Loft Blog. Accessed July 16, 2017. https://laloftblog.com/2016/07/03/what-the-hells-going-on-with-the-higgins-building-mills-act-lofts-not-a-panacea/.