International Savings & Exchange Bank Building

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International Savings & Exchange Bank Building
International Savings Bank Building.jpg
The International Savings & Exchange Bank Building, which stood at the SW corner of Temple & Spring in downtown Los Angeles
General information
Architectural styleRenaissance Revival/Italianate
Address226 North Spring Street
Town or cityLos Angeles, California
CountryUnited States
Coordinates34°03′15″N 118°14′36″W / 34.0542°N 118.2433°W / 34.0542; -118.2433Coordinates: 34°03′15″N 118°14′36″W / 34.0542°N 118.2433°W / 34.0542; -118.2433
Construction started1906
ClientInternational Savings & Exchange Bank, Inc.
Technical details
Structural systemsteel frame
Floor count10
Design and construction
Architect(s)H. Alban Reaves

The International Savings & Exchange Bank Building (also known as the International Savings Building), was built in the Spring Street Financial District of Los Angeles in 1907. Standing ten floors, it was designed in the Renaissance Revival and Italianate styles by architect H. Alban Reaves (some sources spell Reeves), who had previously designed several structures in New York, including what is now the south building of the historic Schuyler Arms.

It stood at 223–229 North Spring Street, the southwest corner of Temple and Spring across Temple from the Main Post Office, and was featured in several postcards from the 1920s.[2] Occupying the ground floor[3] was the International Savings & Exchange Bank, “an institution much in favor among foreign born and descended residents,”[4] which had been incorporated four years earlier in 1903.[5] In later years it served as the City Health Building.[1]

1931 photograph showing City Hall with the 10-story International Savings building at the immediate left[6]


In 1928, the building was dwarfed by the new 30-story Los Angeles City Hall. The building was purchased by the city to be razed to complete landscaping for city hall. However, the City Health department found a home in the building for the next twenty-five years. It was not demolished until December 1954, when new City Health offices were built.[1][7][8] The portion of Spring Street that its front entrance faced no longer exists.[2]

Role in Safety Last![edit]

This building is one of three that was featured in the 1923 Harold Lloyd film, Safety Last!. The ten-floor International Savings Building is presented in the film as “the 12-story Bolton Building” and is the setting for the story’s “DeVore Department Store.” The interior store scenes at ground level were not filmed at the International Savings Bank Building but at Ville de Paris, a department store at 712 South Olive at 7th Street.

For several years it has been incorrectly reported that the building shown in both the film and photo stills was the 12-story Beaux Arts-styled Brockman building, designed by St. Louis architects Barnett, Haynes & Barnett in 1911[9][10] (some sources say 1921) and still standing today at 530 West Seventh Street at Grand Avenue. Only the roof of the Brockman Building was used for Safety Last!, but the Brockman itself is not seen in the movie. Although the two buildings look nothing alike, this erroneous understanding has appeared in numerous sources, including The Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety, Los Angeles Business Journal, and countless real estate websites.[11][12][13]

Replica of the International Savings Building’s façade as seen in Safety Last!

The International Savings Building was used for all of the long shots showing Lloyd’s character scaling its exterior. Medium and close shots were executed using a full-scale replica of two floors of the International Savings Building’s façade, placed on a platform on the rooftop of the L. L. Burns Western Costume Co. building at 908 S. Broadway[14] – making it appear that Lloyd’s character was hanging up to 12 stories over the sidewalk. (A similar method was used for 1921’s Terror Trail, wherein a building façade was reconstructed over the Hill Street Tunnel to give an illusion of grand height on film – while actually being only a story and a half above a solid surface.)[15]

The International Savings Building is seen clearly in a large photograph (showing a stuntman climbing it for Safety Last!) on page 140 of the book, Hollywood – The Pioneers by Kevin Brownlow (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Wreckers Put Hammer to Old Health Building". Los Angeles Times. December 30, 1954.
  2. ^ a b A Visit to Old Los Angeles, Section 5: Spring Street 9 (Part 1.) by Brent C. Dickerson [1]
  3. ^ A History of California and an Extended History of Los Angeles and Environs, Volume 2 by James Miller Guinn, page 390. Los Angeles Historic Record Co. 1915.
  4. ^ Los Angeles, the Old and the New, by Scott Winfield. Pg. 67. Copyright 1911 J.E. Scott
  5. ^ Attorneys & Bankers Directory of California, 1908-09, pg 90.
  6. ^ Scott, Charles Fletcher (August–September 1931). "Los Angeles on Parade". Overland Monthly. 89 (8–9): 14.
  7. ^ Parker, Ray (October 11, 1954). "Old Health Temple Will Give Up Ghost". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ " "Building with "Career" Soon Coming Down". Valley Times. October 14, 1954.
  9. ^ American Architect and Architecture, published 1912, New York. Volume 102, page 168: “Application has been filed in the city building department by John Brockman … for a permit to erect a 12-story Class A store and office structure on the corner of W. 7th St. and Grand Ave. The building was designed by Architects Barnett, Haynes & Barnett, of St. Louis.” [2]
  10. ^ California Office of Historic Preservation, Department of Parks & Recreation, Brockman Application for National Register of Historic Places, Page 11: “According to Henry F. and Elsie Withey’s 1956 Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased), the Brockman Building is considered to be among the respected firm’s [Barnett, Haynes & Barnett] greatest achievements.”[3]
  11. ^ “New Hopes Hung on Building,” by Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2004.
  12. ^ “New Line Home Entertainment introduces Harold Lloyd DVD set,” by Shira Gotshalk. Daily Variety, November 1, 2005.
  13. ^ Los Angeles Business Journal; Danny King, September 10, 2003.
  14. ^ "Safety Last! Mr. Epstein's Writing on the Wall". 26 June 2011.
  15. ^ Hollywood – The Pioneers, by Kevin Brownlow, 1979, page 139. ISBN 0-394-50851-3