Save the Woodruff and Alston Murals at Golden State Life Insurance Company

Golden State Life Insurance Building

Save Golden State’s valued African American Art Collection

This is a very interesting piece on the historic African American art located in the Golden State Life Insurance builing in Los Angeles, CA. The Golden State Life Insurance Co. was founded in 1925 by William Nickerson, Jr., Norman Oliver Houston and George Allen Beavers, Jr. in Los Angeles, CA and grew to become the largest insurance company west of the Mississippi River that was Black owned and operated. In 1948, Golden State moved into a new office at 1999 West Adams Boulevard that was designed by a legendary architect by the name of Paul Williams, who was actually the American Institute of Architechts first African American member.

Golden State Life Insurance Company (Inside)

Golden State Life (Inside View)

Paul Williams selected Charles Alston and Hale Woodruff to create two murals for this facility by the names of “Settlement and Development” and “Exploration and Colonization”. It is these two murals as well as all of the other African American art collected by Golden State during the insurance company’s peak that is the centerpiece of this article.

Apparently, due to Golden State Life Insurance’s decline after desegregation, it was seized by the State of California who are now trying to sell these two murals, which is described by Golden State Life Insurance as being:

Golden State Life Insurance Company (Inside)

Golden State Life (Inside View)

“More than mere murals … these priceless panels incorporate documentary material, much of which appears in no annals of American history. California … her early black settlers, historical events, and physical terrain, dominate these murals.”

I truly hope that all of the efforts to keep these murals and the insurance company’s large collection of African American art in the City of Los Angeles is successful. I would like to see this historic building remain in as good as shape as possible and with as much of it’s glory in tact due to it’s historic significance.

In the event the Smithsonian does acquire this Golden State’s collection of art, I hope they display these works proudly, speak on the history of Golden State Life Insurance Company and don’t just buy it and let it disappear into obscurity forever.

Below you will find an image of both murals. Click either image for a close up view.

Settlement and Development by Hale WoodruffExploration and Colonization by Charles Alston

Learn More About This Situation

  • Anonymous

    We have recently learned that the Smithsonian has withdrew their offer due to strong public sentiment that wanted the murals to stay in the area/community. Read more:

  • Flo

    The public may view these historic murals at the “West Adams’ Golden Legacies: Golden State Mutual Life and Landmarks of African American History” tour on SAT., JUNE 4.
    Please visit for information.
    The tour is presented by West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA), a nonprofit organization founded in 1983 to support preservation of the community’s architectural and cultural heritage. WAHA has grown from a small resident support group to a recognized preservation voice with hundreds of members who live in the many neighborhoods of the Historic West Adams District.