Pico House

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This article is about Pio Pico's historic hotel in Los Angeles. For Pio Pico's historic mansion in Whittier, see Pio Pico State Historic Park.
Pico House
Pico house-los angeles-2010.jpg
Pico House, 2011
Pico House is located in California
Pico House
Location Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°03′23.63″N 118°14′22.07″W / 34.0565639°N 118.2394639°W / 34.0565639; -118.2394639Coordinates: 34°03′23.63″N 118°14′22.07″W / 34.0565639°N 118.2394639°W / 34.0565639; -118.2394639
Built 1869–1870[1]
Architect Ezra F. Kysor
Architectural style Victorian
Governing body Local
Part of Los Angeles Plaza Historic District (#72000231[2])
CHISL # 159 [3]
Designated CP November 3, 1972[4]
Pico House, 1877
The Pico House dominates the Plaza in old downtown Los Angeles, 1876 (photo taken from old Fort Moore)
Inner court of Pico House taken about 1993

The Pico House is a historic building in Los Angeles, California, dating from its days as a small town in Southern California. Located on 430 North Main Street, it sits across the old Los Angeles Plaza from Olvera Street and El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.


Pío Pico, a successful businessman who was the last Mexican Governor of Alta California, ordered construction of a luxury hotel in the growing town. The architect was Ezra F. Kysor, who also designed the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, and it was constructed between 1869 and 1870.[1] The resulting Italianate three story, 33-room hotel, dubbed Pico House (or Casa de Pico) was the most extravagant and lavish hotel in Southern California, and its opening was cause for much celebration. It had a total of nearly eighty rooms, large windows, a small interior court, and a grand staircase. In the days of the hotel's primacy the courtyard featured a fountain[5] and an aviary of exotic birds.[6] The structure forms three sides of a trapezoid of which the open end immediately abuts the adjacent Merced Theatre, thus forming the courtyard. The back of the hotel faces Sanchez Street,[7] where the large carriage entrance can still be seen.

Its time in the spotlight did not last very long. By 1876, the Southern Pacific Railroad had linked the city with the rest of the country and more residents and businessman began pouring in. Pio Pico himself started having financial troubles, and lost the hotel to the San Francisco Savings and Loan Company.

In 1882, the hotel was so crowded with guests that Manager Dunham secured thirty rooms on the opposite side of the street, "and still the cry is more room."[8]

The business center of the city began to move south and, by 1900, the building began to decline. After decades as a shabby lodging house, it finally passed into the hands of the State of California in 1953, and it now belongs to the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Monument. Parts of this building were renovated in 1981 and 1992. The ground floor is occasionally used for exhibits and other events.


The Pico House is listed as a California Historical Landmark (No. 159) and a National Historic Landmark as a part of the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District (NPS-72000231).

Popular culture[edit]

The Pico House was featured prominently in the Star Trek: The Next Generation two part episode "Time's Arrow", filling in as turn of the 18th and 19th to 20th century San Francisco.

The rear of Pico House was used in the TV show The Mentalist. It is used as the headquarters of the fictional California Bureau of Investigation and is frequently seen during the show. Pico House was also used, in August 2009, as the shoot location for JLS's video for their single, "Everybody In Love". On January 7, 2011, the building was featured on Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, with Kane Hodder and Rick McCullum.

The Pico House was used in NCIS: Los Angeles in season2/episode 6 "Stand-Off" (original airdate October 19, 2010) as the Navy Career Center that the scene of a hostage situation. The building's exterior, interior, and central courtyard were used.


  1. ^ a b John Hunt (August 14, 1972). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Los Angeles Plaza Historic District / El Pueblo de Los Angeles (State Historic Park)". National Park Service. Retrieved 22 August 2012.  and accompanying 36 photos
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  3. ^ "California Historical Landmarks – Los Angeles". California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Los Angeles Plaza Historic District". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Los Angeles Times, historical exhibit announcement. December 26, 1993
  6. ^ Regina V. Phelan, The Gold Chain. Arthur H. Clark Booksellers and Publishers, Los Angeles. 1987
  7. ^ Sanchez Street is no longer marked on contemporary maps, but a short block of it still exists between the Plaza and the Santa Ana Freeway, still with its original paving of slag blocks as was typical in the late 19th century.
  8. ^ "About Town," Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1882, page 3 Library card required.

External links[edit]

Media related to Pico House at Wikimedia Commons