It’s hard to miss the artistic flair of Downtown Los Angeles’s newly renovated Hotel Figueroa. After all, a 12-story mural of tropical foliage by Bella Gomez snakes up the back of the building. What really sets this hotel’s design apart, though, is that it features a permanent collection composed entirely of works by LA-based female artists.
The reason for this feminist refresh is embedded in the hotel’s history. When it opened in 1926, as a YWCA hotel with nine floors reserved exclusively for women, it was then the largest real estate project ever financed and operated primarily by women. “We are stewards of the hotel, and with that comes an obligation to carry forward the spirit and conviction of the founding women,” says Figueroa co-owner and Capital Hall Partners CEO Bradley Hall.
Foremost among those pioneers was Maude N. Bouldin, the first female manager of a large American hotel. “She flew her own planes across the country, rode motorcycles, and raced men in motorcars, because she knew she could beat them,” Hall says. Guests will find a tribute to the former manager immediately upon entering the reception area, where Alison Van Pelt’s crimson portrait of Bouldin astride a motorcycle hangs. “She was a firecracker,” Hall says.