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Morley Benjamin; Founder of Morley Builders

Morley Benjamin, 83, whose company constructed hundreds of prominent buildings in Southern California. Benjamin founded the Los Angeles-based Morley Builders 53 years ago. Among his company’s major projects are several well-known downtown buildings, including the former Broadway Plaza (now Macy’s Plaza), the Wells Fargo and Security Pacific buildings, and Library Tower (formerly First Interstate World Center), the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Last year Morley Builders beat 13 companies vying to build the $45-million Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the new cathedral for the Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church. Benjamin’s firm, now led by his son Mark, is also handling the renovation of the Getty Villa Museum in Malibu. A Michigan native, Benjamin moved to California in 1946 after earning his Army discharge and a diploma from the University of Michigan. An English major, he flirted with the writer’s life. He moved west to capitalize on the postwar construction boom in Los Angeles, leveraging $300 in savings into a 68-home tract development in Pacoima in 1947. Working for the next three decades with partner Sherman “Tex” Given, Benjamin was known for his old-fashioned business principles, often sealing deals with a handshake rather than a contract. He made large contributions to many Los Angeles charities and institutions, including the Music Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, City of Hope and the Arthritis Foundation. His company also donated $25,000 to the downtown Central Library to rebuild its science and technology department after a devastating 1986 fire. On Feb. 2 at his Beverly Hills home.


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