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28. Rapp Saloon/Old Town Hall, 1875 28. Rapp Saloon/Old Town Hall, 1875
1438 Second St.
Builders: Spencer & Pugh Bricklayers

Rapp Saloon, 1438 Second St. - Oldest masonry building in Santa Monica

Rapp Saloon - another view

Earlier photo -Victorian Italianate style


The Rapp Saloon, at 1438 Second St., was built in 1875 and is the oldest surviving brick building in the city. This one-story structure was designed for William Rapp by a contractor known only as Mr. Freeman. The building was constructed by Spencer & Pugh bricklayers and plasterers. It was the first masonry structure in Santa Monica. An 1877 advertisement in the Santa Monica Outlook called the establishment the “Los Angeles Beer Garden” with “fresh-tapped Los Angeles beer always on hand.”

Over the years, the property has had a variety of purposes, including a Salvation Army meeting hall, radiator repair shop, art gallery and storage facility for the Vitagraph Film Co.. Founded in 1911, Vitagraph Film Co. was one of the first movie studios in the Los Angeles area. The Rapp Saloon even served as Santa Monica’s City Hall for two years, and was the city's first landmark.

Now it's part of the Hostelling International building and the Rapp Saloon is used for poetry readings.

Reviewers write:

“LA teens are still hanging around listening to music and playing video games, but are also getting more creative and going to poetry readings. They offer teens the chance to be expressive and, like seeing live music, they have to seek out the locations. Currently the hot places for teens to hear poetry are at the Rapp Saloon, located in a Santa Monica branch of the International Youth Hostel.”

FYI- Hosteling International recently received a certificate of appropriateness allowing additional floor to be added to the Santa Monica Youth Hostel. The addition will add some 30,000 square feet spread over four floors. The two uppermost of floors cannot be seen from the street.

Santa Monica City Commissioners praised the adaptations --- "It just shows what can be done," noted City Council member Ken Genser.