A 3-D photo shoot revealed a famed 1920s Fire Door painting is missing from King Eddy Saloon’s basement Speakeasy and Richard Schave and Kim Cooper, co-owners of Esotouric Tours, are offering a reward for its safe return.
Skid Row’s “American Gothic”, is the elaborately painted Prohibition-era metal fire door removed by person or persons unknown from the basement speakeasy of the King Eddy Saloon in the King Edward Hotel. The person who helps return the fire door will receive $300, a behind-the-scenes tour of the King Edward Hotel, a round of beers at the King Eddy Saloon and four tickets on Esotouric’s Charles Bukowski tour or the Downtown true crime tour Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice.
Last week, the City of Los Angeles celebrated John Parkinson Day in City Hall Chambers, with a documentary film screening honoring the iconic architect of Union Station, Bullocks Wilshire and City Hall. But at John Parkinson’s 1906 King Edward Hotel at 5th and Los Angeles Streets in the heart of old Skid Row, the mood was grim. During the photo shoot of the historic hotel, historians Richard Schave and Kim Cooper who brought this lost piece of Los Angeles history into the spotlight, discovered that an important artifact had vanished.
At some point between 2015 and the present, Skid Row’s own “American Gothic” – the famous painted fire door that separated the King Eddy Saloon’s basement speakeasy from the hotel basement – had been taken off its hinges and removed. Its current location and condition is unknown.Click here to Read More
Rediscovered in 2008
In 2008, while filming an episode of “Cities of the Underworld” about Prohibition-era tunnels in Downtown L.A., Richard Schave moved some storage boxes away from the wall and revealed the brightly colored fire door for the first time in decades. On the bar basement side, the fire door was expertly painted with a comic scene of an old-fashioned police officer rousting a bum sleeping on a bench. On the hotel side, a lovely Dutch girl served a baby-faced sailor a foamy mug of beer. The figures were almost life-sized, obviously created by a skilled (though anonymous) artist, and represent fascinating window into the culture of illegal nightclubs during Prohibition.
From 2008-2013, Esotouric frequently took tour groups into the King Eddy Saloon basement speakeasy and took pleasure in sharing this unique bit of Los Angeles history. People were fascinated by the speakeasy space and its association with the novelist John Fante (he wrote about it in “Ask the Dust”), and loved the charming painted door. A very special “pre-gentrification” speakeasy tour featuring the painted door and other artifacts can be seen at
www.esotouric.com/KingEddyDoor – guided by Dustin Croik, the third generation owner of the King Eddy Saloon, just before he was compelled to sell the bar in 2012.
The Healthy Housing Foundation recently purchased the King Edward Hotel, and HHF is working to repopulate the low-income SRO hotel, which had been nearly emptied under the previous owner. HHF is also committed to historic preservation, and is consulting with experts on stained glass and custom plasterwork to stabilize the decoration of
the lobby and hotel sign. The loss of an important historic resource like the painted fire door is of great concern to them.
Miki Jackson of HHF says, “The King Edward and the King Eddy Saloon basement speakeasy are just not the same without our cantankerous cop, our resident miscreant, our charming Dutch girl, the mischievous sailor and his beer! They have gotten lost; please send them back home. We are honoring the long and colorful history of the famed King Edward Hotel and this painted door is a very important part of that history. Please help us find it.”
The Healthy Housing Foundation is offering a reward of $300, a behind-the-scenes tour of the building and a round of beers in the King Eddy Saloon for the return of the King Eddy’s historic fire door.Esotouric’s Kim Cooper says, “This city is filled with fake speakeasy bars that trade on the colorful history of Prohibition, when the Los Angeles rackets were managed by the cops under the direction of the Mayor’s office. But there is only on nearly intact, real McCoy 1920s speakeasy, and it’s in the basement of the King Eddy Saloon. The disappearance of the painted fire door from the King Eddy Cellar is a cultural tragedy, and I hope the person who has it now loves it enough to realize it belongs in the room it was made to decorate. For the love of history, please send the door home!”