The piece of progammatic architecture in East LA known as the Tamale was listed for sale this week, the folks at Esotouric.com say. The former tamale joint, which is now a beauty shop, shares its lot at 6421 Whittier Blvd. with a two-bedroom, one-bath house. The property is listed for $459,000, and Esotouric speculates it could be a teardown situation.
Most of L.A.'s great programmatic architectural landmarks are long gone, and those that remain exist in various states of decay, alteration and uncertainty. Like the Tail O' the Pup, which tucked its meat between its buns and wandered off one day, or the unfortunate Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby, now nothing but a weird swoop on a mini-mall roof....
Although it's among the last of an indigenous California architectural form, unfortunately there is no structure in place for protecting or preserving the Tamale. Located in unincorporated Los Angeles County, it is not subject to the city's historic preservation guidelines. State and National monument status is dependent on the whim of the property owner. And so she sits, caked in plaster, under the blazing east side sun, waiting for something to happen.
FYI, that surviving Brown Derby hat on top of a Korean restaurant in the mini-mall at Wilshire and Alexandria Avenue is not from the original Derby. It's from the replacement Brown Derby that was built a half-block east after the first cafe was razed to make way for bungalows on the grounds of the Chapman Park Hotel.
Photo: Los Angeles Public Library