Barker Brothers

barker_brothers_1926_los_angeles“The history of Barker Brothers is the history of Los Angeles” the pioneer furniture store proclaimed when it moved into its new home in January 1926. It wasn’t mere advertising hyperbole.


Barker Brother’s store had claimed to be the biggest thing going west of the Mississippi when it moved to its previous home on Broadway about 1910.

Established in 1880 as Barker & Muller in a small outlet near the Plaza, the company now supplied furniture to most of the city’s hotels in addition to its retail business.

The new 11-story red brick Renaissance Revival Building at the southwest corner of Seventh & Flower streets and the southeast corner of Seventh & Figueroa streets was designed by Curlett & Beelman. The brothers pulled off the move from 724-728 S. Broadway in just 60-hours, with Charles H. Barker hand carrying a clock that had ticked in the main office through all of the company’s locations. The store threw open its doors with a gala reception on January 25, 1926.


1-25-1926. Directory of the new store.

Though famous for its furniture, the company sold much more than that by 1926. It had a full inventory of household goods, sheet music, toys, electrical appliances, and artwork. It also offered interior design services. The top floor featured an auditorium that seated 600 and had its own theater pipe organ.



For weary shoppers, the popular Mary Louise Tea Room, whose main location was at Westlake Park, opened an outlet on the 11th floor of Barker Brothers the day after the store’s grand opening.


Barker Brothers’ foyer at Christmas in the 1920s. LAPL.

The foyer features a great concert pipe organ, one of three in the new store. The pair of decorated trees were trucked down from Lake Arrowhead in 1926. It would be a tradition in the store thereafter.



Barker Brothers would open a branch store in Hollywood in October 1927, occupying the upper floors of the new El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Blvd. The flagship downtown store closed its doors in 1984.

Top image: The new Barker Brothers in 1926. LAPL.


11 thoughts on “Barker Brothers

  1. In the mid 1980’s I purchased a Barker Brothers coffee table. Is there a website dedicated to Barker Brothers furniture for sale/purchase? Please advise, thank you.


  2. Hello my name is Sebastian Rebollar my father’s name is Florentino same last name he was a delivery truck driver for Barker Brothers in the early sixties and I have been looking for pictures of drivers and trucks from that era do you know if there are any in existence and where I can find them thank you very much I appreciate it


    • Hi Sebastian,
      I don’t know of any such photos. I’m not sure where Barker Brothers’ own corporate files ended up after they were bought out. The photographer Julias Shulman did a lot of commercial photography in the city during that period. His archives are at the Getty Center, in the “Julius Shulman Photography Archive.” Some of his work from this collection is online, but most is not. The Los Angeles public library has a huge photo collection also. Some of it is online, here: They have lots of other photos not yet online; you’d have to contact the historical collection librarian to find out about other photos they might have.


  3. Today I discovered a small box that was amongst some of the things that came from my grandmother’s house. In the box was a silver baby cup with the word “Baby” engraved on it. It was from Barker Bros. 716-738 So. Broadway, Los Ángeles, Cal. And addressed For Baby Alice A.Biedebach, 149 N.Allen Ave., Pasadena, Cal. This baby was my mother who was born in 1915. Mom lived to be 100 years old, but her little cup is now nearly 104 years old.! It is my treasure and now I know where it came from.


  4. Articles mention Otto Mueller starting the store with Barker. Is that a confusion with Otto Clausen. Both were German artists, but Mueller stayed in Germany. Clausen came to Hollywood and sold his 1904 home to Mrs. Barker.


    • The geneologists can contemplate that one. LA Times reports in 1881 a store contracted for Barker & Mueller to be constructed on Spring Street by architects Kysor & Morgan and a residence for Otto Mueller on Hill St. by the same architects.


    • Anthony: Yes, it was Scofield Engineering-Construction Company did the building work; Oliver G. Bowen was the structural engineer, Curlett & Beelman, architects.


    • I don’t know who built Barker Bros. I know who built the home that Mr. Barker’s widow lived in on N. Highland Ave, Hollywood.


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