C. C. Pierce, a Pioneer Los Angeles Photographer

April 25th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Boulders and palm trees in a Palm Canyon, Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, circa 1901


C. C. Pierce was a pioneer Los Angeles photographer, working from circa 1886-1946, whose photographs document Los Angeles and southern California. Pierce was also a photograph collector and dealer and many of the images in this collection are by his contemporaries as well. The beautifully composed, often atmospheric views are a testament to the practice of early photographers to work according to the principles of painting.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, arcades enclosing quadrangle, Oceanside, circa 1887

Of particular note is the documentation of surviving structures from the missions and rancho land grants of California. Fourteen missions, including lesser-known “asistencias” (sub-missions under the control of larger missions) and three ranchos are documented.

Mission San Carlos Borromeo, exterior view prior to restoration, Carmel, circa 1875

Interior of the chapel at the San Antonio de Pala Asistencia, Pala, circa 1898

These historically important nitrate images show the buildings, with their original decor and surroundings, before restoration or, in some cases, complete ruin. Two rancho images document actual working ranch activities such as sheep washing (Rancho Guajome) and sheep shearing (Rancho Camulos).

Native American sheep sheerers at Rancho Camulos standing in front of an adobe building, near Piru, 1885

Of note is the image of the Civil War era barracks in Wilmington.

Civil War era barracks guard house at the Drum Barracks, Wilmington, Los Angeles, circa 1910

The collection also shows now-demolished Los Angeles civic buildings such as the ca. 1900 County Courthouse,

Los Angeles County Courthouse, Los Angeles, circa 1900-1910

civic life in downtown LA, through a series on the various locations of Boos Bros cafeterias which can be enlarged to allow the identification of neighboring businesses,

Boos Bros Cafeteria on the 300 block of S. Broadway, Los Angeles, circa 1929

Boos Bros Cafeteria on the 300 block of S. Broadway, Los Angeles, circa 1929

and the yet undeveloped areas around Los Angeles such as Topanga Canyon and the San Fernando Valley.

Birdseye view of the San Fernando Valley from the Topanga Canyon Road, Topanga, circa 1923-1928

William Mulholland (possibly) standing on a dirt drive between rows of large trees, California

Finally, the collection holds surprises, such as an unidentified image which appears to possibly portray William Mulholland, with his signature hat, mustache and confident pose,

Detail from photograph above

when compared to an identified portrait such as this one from the USC Digital Library.

Martha Steele, UCLA Library Cataloging & Metadata Center