The story behind Heritage Square and its Victorian homes

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The Hale House at Heritage Square, via Curbed LA

Curbed LA goes pretty deep on the origins and status of Heritage Square Museum beside the freeway in the Arroyo Seco. Excerpt:

The Cultural Heritage Board, in particular long-time executive assistant Nancy Fernandez, worked with private cultural groups to find a permanent refuge for some of these buildings. In 1969, the LA Department of Parks and Recreation leased them a rather unremarkable 10-acre parcel of excess parkland adjacent to the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Heritage Square Museum was born. The goal was to move structures facing demolition to the site, restore them, and open them to the public.


Early articles about the museum looked to the day when Heritage Square would be another Colonial Williamsburg, but with a "western spirit." ...


By 1976, the museum was years off schedule. According to one project coordinator, many volunteers became discouraged and quit. The city offered the museum no financial support, "reflecting," as the LA Times put it, "the sluggish historical consciousness for which the region is noted."

So the Museum painstakingly raised money for each individual relocation and renovation needed to save these structures. Most of these buildings had exteriors layered with stucco and interiors virtually obliterated by years of hard use. There are now eight historic structures at the Museum, in various stages of continuous repair. Built between 1876 and 1899, these disparate buildings are a fascinating look into an infantile Los Angeles without an architectural identity.


More by Kevin Roderick:
Reclaiming the alleys of South LA for parklets
The story behind Heritage Square and its Victorian homes
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