The New Mart Building began its incarnation as the Harris Newmark Building. Designed by famed architects Curlett & Beelman, it was dedicated by Mr. Newmark’s sons in his honor when it was completed in 1926. Harris Newmark, who died in 1916, was one of the city’s earliest leaders, a generous philanthropist and the founder of many charitable organizations still in existence.
At twelve stories tall and 160 feet high it was the first high rise to be built in downtown Los Angeles. Located in the center of today’s Fashion District, for many years it served as a posh location for retail stores, offices and manufacturing. Manufacturers Bank was founded at this location to service the local apparel manufacturers. Sam’s Deli was a popular eatery and watering hole for decades, with patrons lining up on the street to wait for a table.
In 1980 Ben Eisenberg, a real estate entrepreneur who owned many other properties in downtown Los Angeles, purchased the building. An innovative and creative property owner, Ben began to convert what, at that time was entirely an apparel manufacturing facility into a building dedicated exclusively to wholesale fashion showrooms. In 1983, Ben, and his wife, Joyce, renamed the building The New Mart.
Early in 1986, Ben transferred title to The New Mart Building, as well as all his other properties, to The Ben and Joyce Eisenberg Foundation, a charitable trust with the provision that all profits be donated to several pre-selected charities, primarily in the fields of medical research and the care of children and the elderly. When Ben passed away in 1986, Joyce Eisenberg became the President of the Foundation. With a renewed dedication, Joyce continued the transformation that had been Ben’s vision, and by late 1987 the transition from a manufacturing facility to a gallery of apparel showrooms was complete. The New Mart Building was subsequently granted landmark status for it’s elegant façade by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department in 1988.
A renovation project begun in 1996 included a remodeled lobby and restoration of The New Mart’s original façade. During the work on the lobby, the original ceiling was exposed revealing intricate moldings and dental work. The decision was made to incorporate the ceiling into the new lobby design, and Joyce accented the molding with gold leaf. Finally, The New Mart had a properly dramatic entrance ready to invite tenants and their customers to work each day.
The original blueprints of the building were recovered and the project to restore the original façade was underway. A beautiful bronze canopy that sat over the main entrance had been demolished in the 1950’s; and using the blueprints, an exact replica of that canopy was created. Installing this magnificent work of art was the finishing touch.
Work was completed in 1997, in time to celebrate the building’s tenth anniversary as a showroom venue. The USC marching band performed at the grand opening, and Councilwoman Rita Walters cut the ribbon, surrounded by models wearing fashions from the designers who were tenants at the time.
Today, the building’s showrooms are unique architectural wonders. Utilizing the natural cement floors and Beaux Arts columns, each glass-fronted showroom’s décor reflects the visions of the fashion designers that are the building’s tenants. The New Mart is world-renowned as the premier venue for the most popular apparel and accessory lines in America today, many of which are manufactured in Los Angeles. Buyers from as far as Singapore, Dubai, Milan and Paris, come to The New Mart to shop. It is currently home to over a hundred wholesale showrooms representing approximately one thousand unique apparel lines.
The New Mart continues to make a viable impact on the people that live and work in downtown Los Angeles, from their acts of charity to providing a place to dine and network, to helping sustain thousands of jobs in the fashion business in Los Angeles and around the world. For this reason The New Mart is proud to be recognized as an Icon by The Los Angeles Downtown News.