The PacMutual, despite its name, is actually made up of three interconnected structures that were built consecutively over two decades. The first to be constructed was in 1908. It was a six-story Beaux Arts building clad in white terra cotta with four-story Corinthian columnns. In 1921, a twelve-story Beaux Arts building was added. It was much larger than the 1908 building and featured a grand lobby with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and sweeping staircases in Italian Tavernelle marble. The third structure was finished in 1926 and is a two-story parking garage with offices and meeting rooms on the top floor. Today, the PacMutual Building houses a range of tenants such as attorneys and architects as well as the fashion firm Nasty Gal and Los Angeles Conservancy.
Backstory and Context
The entire area of the PacMutual Building takes up around 460,000 square feet. The three interconnected buildings each have their own name: Clock Building (1908), Sentry Building (1921), and Carriage House (1926). Today, PacMutual is a recognized local landmark and was designated as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1982.
The Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company was established in 1868 by former California Governor Leland Stanford in Sacremento. The company consolidated with Conservative Life, a fledgeling L.A. insurance company on March 12, 1906, at a time when they were based in San Francisco. With a strange prescience, additional fire insurance was placed on the Pacific Mutual home office, additional vaults were constructed, and older vaults were reinforced. These actions were completed by early April, just weeks before the Great Earthquake.
Their website says:
“On April 18, a 48-second earthquake rocked San Francisco leveling hundreds of city blocks. Although our seven-story home office building survived the initial earthquake, our home office was sacrificed as a firebreak to prevent further damage to the city. At the time of the earthquake, a Pacific Mutual employee named Richard Mier, Chief Clerk and Office Manager, realized that valuable bonds were in a safe that was not fireproof.
“Quick thinking Mier courageously removed the bonds, along with several stock ledgers and ran down five flights of shaking stairs. He wrapped the bonds to protect them and climbed to the top of Sacramento Street where he then buried the important documents in the basement of his home where they would be safe until needed – a couple days later.
“On May 18th, the Board of Directors met for the first time since the catastrophe. There amongst the rubble, they formally voted to establish a new home office in Los Angeles. The staff was sent ahead, and a new chapter in our history would begin.”
Fear of fire and loss resulted in a building that “is absolutely fire and earthquake proof, as it is to be finished of steel, hard burned hollow tile, concrete and white glazed terra cotta.”
In 2012 the PacMutual building was sold to Rising Realty Partners renovated it from a lower-rent office space for conventional white-collar firms into a preferred address for businesses in creative fields such as technology and entertainment. They acquired the property for $60 million in 2012. They sold the building to Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Canadian real estate investment company, for $200 million in 2015, who continue to manage the tech-friendly office space.
Pac Mutual. LA Conservancy. Accessed July 23, 2017. https://www.laconservancy.org/locations/pacmutual.
Kim, Eddie. PacMutual Building Sells for $200 Million. LA Downtown News. September 11, 2015. http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/pacmutual-building-sells-for-million/article_03e5c208-589e-11e5-a3d1-9b70f6577822.html.
Pac Mutual Building. Steinberg. Accessed July 23, 2017. https://www.steinberg.us.com/commercial/pacmutual-building/.