Google+ House Revivals: This Abbot Kinney Welding Shop is a Piece of Authentic Venice

Thursday, August 30, 2018

This Abbot Kinney Welding Shop is a Piece of Authentic Venice

We've been spending a lot of time in Los Angeles, lately. For a couple of years, we need to travel between Venice and Seattle for my husband's job. We have fallen in love with Venice.

Venice is amazing. Venice is crazy. Venice has heart. Venice has crime. Venice has very high end homes, and Venice has homeless encampments. Lots of movies and TV shows are filmed in Venice. In fact, I can see The Today Show filming down by the graffiti wall as I type. When we first came here, I made my husband spend an afternoon with Linda Blair and me, watching Roller Boogie. The two star film was shot in Venice, and it's fun to locate the old Venice landmarks and to see how things have changed. You can see the exterior of our apartment in some of the scenes. You can still find roller skaters on the Venice Boardwalk, though roller skating has been eclipsed by skate boarding, with the addition of a new skate park.

Venice has an interesting and colorful history, from it's heyday as a Hollywood playground, to prohibition bootlegging -- which brings us to the 1928 brick building where Elco Welding is located. It was a center of bootlegging activity before prohibition was repealed in 1933. In 1937, it became a metal shop. In 1966, the building was purchased by Seymour Libow for a five figure sum, and he moved his Hollywood welding shop to the 2200 square foot Venice building. He kept the Hollywood name, Elco Welding. 

Seymour's sons, Mark and Bob, were college students at the time, and joined their father in the business. Fifty years later, Mark and Bob are still running the shop. It's one of the few light industrial holdouts on Venice's iconic Abbot Kinney Boulevard. From the outside, it doesn't look like much, but when you enter the gate and see the courtyard, you are amazed at what is hidden behind the wall.

I learned of the place when Mark and Bob were welding some prototypes for my husband's company. I went with him to pick up the finished products, and stood in awe. The place is a museum, and the owners are clearly artists. They have been collecting metal signs and interesting old machines for decades. They even have several classic cars, one of which made an appearance in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The brothers are able to stay in business because their building has long been paid off. They say they wouldn't be able to afford to stay open if they had to pay rent.

In the seventies, the brothers worked on bikes for LA's infamous motorcycle gangs. In contrast, they also worked on fancy yachts owned by wealthy Hollywood types. 

Elco Welding is a lot like Venice. It's gritty, and artsy. The brothers enjoy doing the occasional sculpture out of old motorcycle parts, or whatever happens to be lying around. Some of the items you see in their yard might be for sale, some not, but don't be afraid to ask.

They've got a pretty good sense of humor, based on some of the signs in their collection. I feel like their warning sign, below, speaks to me.

If you come to Venice, in your travels, poke your head into Elco Welding, on Abbot Kinney and Venice Boulevard. I promise you won't be disappointed. If you're local, and you need metal work, these guys can do anything.

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