This unique five-story office building was- built in 1893 for Louis Bradbury (who owned it until 1944). George Herbert Wyman was only 32 when he designed the structure and had no formal architectural or engineering training at that time. A heavy sandstone exterior leaves one unprepared for the cage of light filled glass within. The whole is a cobweb of cast iron covered with delicate art nouveau ornament. The open elevator cages are still used—they rise slowly and quietly in this brightly lighted court.

Harold Kirker has described it:

“After the Rosenthal Building, it is refreshing to consider the extant Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, the most significant commercial design from the decade of the nineties and one of the few buildings not influenced by the neoclassic reaction. The circumstances regarding this structure are as unusual as the finished project. The architect, George Herbert Wyman, came, to. California for his health in 1891. Without formal training in design or construction, he took a brief apprenticeship in the office of an uncle and later worked as a draftsman for Sumner P. Hunt, who received a commission from Louis Bradbury for a commercial building on Broadway at Third Street For some reason the work was taken from Hunt and offered to Wyman, who accepted the challenge after communing with his dead brother over a planchette. The result was a masterpiece.

The Bradbury Building, completed in 1893, was inspired by the architect’s infatuation with the California light and by a description of a Utopian building in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward. This fictional structure was “a vast hall full of light received not alone from the windows on all sides but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above…. The walls were frescoed in mellow tints, to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior.”

This quotation will serve as sufficient description of the interior of the Bradbury Building itself and compensates for the wholly inadequate impression conveyed by photographs. Because the site offered Wyman no possibilities other than those that were usual in urban commercial planning, he contented himself with an exterior of chaste Sullivanesque proportions in brown brick, sandstone, and terra cotta, and concentrated all of his talents upon the great court—the “vast hall full of light ” Here he created a remarkable effect of hazysunlight by using walls of glazed brick in rose and gold, pale yellow floor tiling, stair treads and sills of rich brown marble, and gold-grained woodwork. Light enters from the glass roof as well as from a band of clerestory windows, below which rims a frieze of brown terra cotta. In contrast to this “sunset glow,” Wyman left exposed and painted black all structural iron parts in the court, such as galleries, staircases, and elevator shafts. The Bradbury Building was Wyman’s single important work and was ignored in contemporary architectural circles. The Californians, as usual, were looking to the East and sought salvation in yet another imported revival.”

The aesthetic quality of the Bradbury Building derives from the superb environment of an inner court flooded with light. It is an early and excellent example of a break with facade architecture; by treating the sides of the inner court as facades, the architect has provided an off-street space which is a leisurely inner street. It is an oasis in the downtown core of the city; it is visited annually by dozens of architecture students, and because of its dramatic force is used frequently as a set for motion pictures and television films. It has been restored in the last few years.