Tartine Bakery & Cafe

Known As
Gates Mendenhall & Gates Mortuary; Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Directors
Francis D. Rutherford
1925 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

In a stunning and somewhat surprising adaptive reuse, the owners of Tartine Bakery and Café converted a closed, long-serving funeral home into a popular eatery. Tartine, based in San Francisco, opened a location at the corner of Arizona and 20th Street in March 2020. The chain is known for its country bread, morning buns and lemon tarts. A similar transformation occurred in 1986 when another local mortuary, Turner & Stevens in Pasadena became Holly Street Bar and Grill. Built in 1933, owners of the former Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy Funeral Directors chapel can be traced in part to the Spanish land grant family that once held rights to Santa Monica and much of West L.A.

The chapel was sensitively rehabilitated, preserving the chapel’s cruciform plan as the basis for the restaurant’s interior layout. A religious-themed stained glass was encapsulated into a wall section. The materials, colors, fenestration shapes and stucco finish details on the exterior of its Tudor Revival style remained unchanged. The intricate terra-cotta windows required exceptional care. The new use required structural repairs and upgrade of electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, as well as the addition of fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems, restroom facilities and interior and exterior accessibility upgrades. The generous open space at the corner provides attractive seating for customers. Tartine Bakery & Cafe and CIM Group received a 2020 Preservation Award from the Conservancy.


Photo: Chattel, Inc.

Tudor Revival architecture derives from United Kingdom precedents going back to the middle ages and Tudor period. It became a popular revival style in the U.S. starting in the 1920s, evoking Old World grandeur. It is characterized by steeply pitched-roofs, half-timbering often infilled with herringbone brickwork or plaster (leaving the timber frame exposed), tall mullioned windows, high chimneys, jettied (overhanging) first floors above pillared porches, dormer windows supported by consoles, and even at times thatched roofs.

The funeral home received President Ronald Reagan upon his death in June 2004. His hearse passed by hundreds of admirers along Santa Monica’s Arizona Avenue on its way to the funeral home where then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, celebrities and relatives paid their respects at the start of Reagan’s week-long state funeral. It would later host Nancy’s Reagan’s funeral as well.