Qualified Condition

April 27, 2009

All Hail the Dingbat!

Filed under: Uncategorized — qualifiedcondition @ 11:21 pm

Are you familiar with the Dingbat?  It’s a 1950s-1960s era apartment building with a fairly unique style.  In their truest form, Dingbats provide a row of parking immediately off the street at ground level, and a single level of apartments overhead.  They are most often simple rectilinear forms using inexpensive materials.  These days they are generally scorned for a variety of reasons.  They are a product of the 1950s auto obsession and on an aesthetic level seem to make a home more for the family car than for people (where’s the front door?).  Their boxy shape probably resulted in the demolition of something very quaint and traditional, and in neighborhoods that were only peppered with Dingbat infills in the mid-century they tend to stick out like a sore stucco-ed thumb.  Also, that massive curb cut out front means there isn’t a lot of available street parking which is annoying when you’re a guest to the neighborhood.
Despite their problems, there is much to love about the Dingbat.  It’s a simple building with just the right amount of flair.  No Dingbat would be complete without a requisite band of mosaic tile, or an asymmetrical row of light sconces.  The defining feature of any Dingbat is, of course, the dingbat!  Be it a sunburst, a giant sparkle, or some kind of solar system space aged doodad, these buildings are always decorated with a little pop to say “hey everyone, I’m jazzy and fun… your hip Aunt Sheila lives here.”*
While LA’s first ever request to have a Dingbat designated for Cultural Historic Monument status was rejected not too long ago, the significance of these buildings is beginning to become known.  The Dingbat is probably one of the only architectural styles that could be said to be uniquely Southern Californian.  I am hopeful that some of these buildings in LA will begin to fall into the right hands (and/or limp wrists) and we can begin to see some restoration and some love for these bedazzled beauties.

The photo shown here is on Beverly Blvd near Western.  I’ll be sure to post any other good ones that I come across.

*In lieu of an actual dingbat, one may also find the name or address of the building spelled out in crisp cursive characters** such as “The Waverly” or “Spaulding Palms” or whatever.

**Sorry, I got really carried away with alliteration in this post.



  1. there are some nice ones in our neighborhood in east hollywood, on russell, harvard and loma linda near the intersection of hollywood and western. though i do curse them every time i’m looking for parking. saw a nice one turned sidewise in silverlake, which is much nicer for the street parking issue, and kinda efficient to have your parking and housing like that, if you were only going to have one story anyway.

    Comment by lauren — April 28, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

    • Thanks Lauren, the picture posted here sucks. One of these days I’ll trot my man and his fancy camera out to get some better snap shots, maybe we’ll start in your neighborhood.

      Comment by qualifiedcondition — April 28, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

  2. that’s what it’s called! we put an offer on a Dingbat about a month ago (http://bayside-realestate.com/all_listings.html?Ln=40397645&County=&MLS=EBRD&PPType=Residential#) but its a gosh darn short sale so we’ve resorted to calling it “Sigh…Hillmont.” you learn something new everyday!

    Comment by xanthy — May 4, 2009 @ 5:50 am

    • That house is pretty rad, though for an SFD I’d just call it Mid-Century Modern. Do you think Peter get’s a discount on Danish Modern furniture, because he’s Swedish? The neighborly Schmirgen-bergen discount? No?

      Comment by qualifiedcondition — May 4, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

      • i just figured out what SFD means.

        Our only Scandi discount so far has been family furniture and IKEA. And I’m concerned with the label Mid-century modern because that means we have to start regularly commenting on Apartment Therapy. I’m more a of Decorno girl myself.

        Comment by xanthy — May 7, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

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