The following article on the buildings that burned during civil unrest in La Mesa appeared in the Fall Issue of Lookout Avenue, newsletter of the La Mesa Historical Society. It is reprinted here with permission. To learn more about the Greater La Mesa area’s history, visit lamesahistory.com or their Facebook site.
By James D. Newland, La Mesa Historical Society
Photo, above: First National Trust/Piggly Wiggly Building (1942), 4767 Palm Avenue, Edmund Dunn, master builder. Randall Lamb Engineering, rehab designers. May 2020.
September 20, 2020 (La Mesa) - Almost immediately after the tragic destruction of three recognizable commercial buildings on the evening of May 30th-31st, the Society and myself began to receive requests for information on the history of the three iconic architectural staples of downtown La Mesa’s historic landscape. Upon gathering the stories of each of these prominent, long-standing commercial buildings it became clear that they had unrecognized historical connections to each other, as well as with other buildings and sites within downtown’s contextual history.
Photo, right: Imperial Savings/Chase Bank (1973), Richard George Wheeler, architect. 4791 Spring Street, May 2020.
For more recent La Mesa residents the presence of these three commercial buildings, the First National Bank/Piggly Wiggly Market (1942) at 4757 Palm, the Imperial Savings/Chase Bank (1973) at 4791 Spring, and the Southern California First National/Union Bank (1974) at 4771 Spring may have had little personal connection. Unless you were a customer of the two banks or a client to the Randall Lamb engineering firm that had masterfully rehabilitated that Palm Avenue building, you may not have ever gone inside any of them.
Photo, below: Southern California First National/Union Bank (1974), 4771 Spring Street, Russell Forster, architect. May 2020.