Bowling Square

William J. Fleming • 1961 • Arcadia, California

Sigma fp L • Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS
340 words • 9 images
A dramatic cantilever over some lovely articulated masonry

I finally got to stop by 1020 S Baldwin Ave with a camera. I’d been meaning to photograph this building for quite a while, as I’m always struck by the dramatic cantilever and brickwork whenever I drive past on Baldwin in Arcadia. Turned out to be a handsome building; I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the overhanging forms on the south side were.

The south elevation almost reminds me of the Lloyd Wright Studio in West Hollywood, though here the Mayan masonry’s been abstracted away with brick

These days 1020 S Baldwin is a combination arcade/karaoke bar called Barcadia, but when the building was originally put up in 1961, it was a purpose-built bowling alley called Bowling Square owned by a pair of television stars: Michael Ansara and Barbara Eden (the Jeannie boomers dreamt of).

Another view of the cantilever on the western elevation

The architect on this one is elusive: “W. J. Fleming” appears in the permits, and “William J. Fleming” does appear to be an architect that lived, at some point, in Arcadia (and later in Newport Beach). There’s exceedingly little information about him, though, perhaps a side-effect of having such a generic name. A marriage announcement in a 1957 edition of the Los Angeles Evening Citizen News mentions a William J. Fleming who was a graduate of Oklahoma A&M College, which seems like a good match for this W. J. character, since the architectural partnership of “Fleming & Coppedge” — which appears in Arcadia papers as the firm behind a number of buildings in mid-century Arcadia — was headed up by James C. Coppedge, also a graduate of Oklahoma A&M (these days Oklahoma State University).

A close-up of the brickwork on the western elevation

Coppedge will appear again here in the future. He’s turned out to be the architect behind a medical high-rise in Arcadia that I’m quite fond of.

The same brickwork in different light, here on the southern elevation

This was also my first time deliberately trying out F22 on my old Canon 35mm tilt-shift. I even had a tripod and a cabled shutter release with me; made me feel a lot like a midcentury architectural photographer, sort of. Truly can’t believe how difficult it used to be to “make a photograph” of a building — a real technical feat in the days of large format film.

Nice forms on the southern elevation
Looking north under the western cantilever
Looking south under the cantilever, near the front entrance
A nice little lens flare, looking westward at the southwest corner

Originally posted: 2024-04-11