The Garnier Building was built in 1890, by Philippe Garnier, a French settler who arrived in Los Angeles in 1859 at the age of eighteen. Philippe Garnier and his brothers, Eugene, Abel, and Camille, owned the 4,400 acre Rancho Los Encinos in the San Fernando Valley where they raised sheep. Despite losing a considerable sum of money in the wool market crash in 1872, the Garniers were financially well off and remained influential in local commerce. Philippe Garnier served as a bank director on the Board of the Farmers and Merchants Bank from 1879 to 1891 and is believed to have constructed several other buildings in Los Angeles.
The Garnier Building was designed primarily for Chinese commercial tenants. The rent for the entire building was $200 a month for the first three years. The Garnier Building is the oldest building in Los Angeles exclusively and continuously inhabited by Chinese immigrants from the time of its construction in 1890 until the State took it over in 1953. It was the headquarters of major Chinese American organizations and housed businesses, churches, and schools. It was an important structure in the original Los Angeles Chinatown.
Today the Garnier Building houses LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. For more information on the museum, please click here.