Built in the early decades of the 20th century, the date of the Metropolitan Building's construction is unknown. Upon construction, it replaced a two-story, Romanesque Revival style building. Upon completion, it was known as the Mueller Building for its owner, Michail Mueller. Although the Muellers retained ownership of the property, they granted lease interest of the building to various persons or businesses over the years. The Metropolitan Building possess a high artistic value for its use of the Beaux Arts style in a district that contains some of the best examples of commercial architecture. It is thought the building was constructed by local architects, John Parkinson and Edwin Bergstrom, who were in professional partnership together from 1905 to 1915.
Backstory and Context
Around this time, Broadway was becoming a commercial center. When the Metropolitan Building was constructed it provided street-level retail storefronts for multiple businesses with the upper levels left as simple, open lofts to allow maximum flexibility for prospective tenants. Some of the early tenants included:
- The Owl Drug Co., a San Francisco-based drug store chain (1914–1934)
- L.A. Public Library (1913–1926)
- Foreman & Clark, a budget-oriented men's clothier (c. 1915–1928)
- Janns Investment Company, a prominent real estate development company (1916–1928)
- JJ Newbury Company, a Southern California-based variety store chain (1939 to mid-1990s)
- An assortment of dental and medical offices, jewelers, and a street-level cafe.
In the 1950 alterations were made, including the installation of terrazzo flooring, installation of corner entrance, and exterior canopy, as well as a structural glass spandrel panel. Further alterations were made in the 1990s when a food court space was added, along with the introduction of the opening between the first and second floors.
In 1985, the last remaining ownership interest in the building held by a Mueller family member was sold off and in 1996 was transferred to the current owner.