Tag Archives: history

Wellington Square – The Neighborhood News Online

A nice write-up of Wellington Square in the most recent edition of the Neighborhood News…


Category: Our History
Published on Friday, 02 August 2013 17:27
Written by Dawn Kirkpatrick


In 1913 a Los Angeles Times display ad claimed “Undoubtedly, considering location and openings per se, Wellington Square is the choicest offering along Washington and West Adams today.” A little over 100 years later, Wellington Square is still considered one of Los Angeles’ prime neighborhoods.


Bordered by West Blvd. on the west, Crenshaw Blvd. on the east, Washington Blvd. on the north and the Santa Monica Freeway on the south it was originally developed just before the start of World War I through the efforts of developer George L. Crenshaw, the Union Escrow and Realty Company, a syndicate led by Michael J. Nolan, the W.I. Hollingsworth Co. and realtor John A. Vaughan.

Today, Buckingham Road, Virginia Road, Wellington Road and Victoria Avenue comprise the Square. These four streets are filled with 209 gracious homes of various architectural styles, Spanish Colonial, Tudor and French Norman.


Some of the homes date back prior to World War I. Because Wellington Square was so popular back then “homeowners, and developers…literally picked up their graceful pre-War era homes from their original West Adams and Wilshire District plots and moved them to new plots in Wellington Square,” writes Laura Meyers, a founding member of the West Adams Historical Association (WAHA).

Wellington Square has gone through a number of changes since then, of course. With the help of the City Council in 1927, for example, the Wellington Square Improvement Association successfully arranged to keep heavy trucks out of the neighborhood. Later, “neighbors successfully petitioned to gate egress at West Boulevard and 23rd Street, slowing down traffic and bringing a quiet ambiance back to Wellington Square,” Meyers writes.


In the early 1960s, the California Department of Transportation (Caltran) built the Santa Monica Freeway and ran part of the it through Wellington Square. Today the Freeway makes up the neighborhood’s south border.

Wellington Square is an ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood. Politicians, artists, actors and business people are and have been among its many residents. Once it was home to such notable residents as Dr. Vada Watson-Sommerville and her husband Dr. John A. Sommerville, for example. Among other notable accomplishments, Dr. Watson-Sommerville was the first African-American woman as well as the first woman in general to graduate from the USC School of Dentistry. Despite tremendous racial discrimination, Dr. John A. Sommerville became the first black or Jamaican-American to graduate from the dental school.


In addition to these professional accomplishments, the couple founded the Los Angeles Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, built a 26-unit apartment building for African Americans, which they named La Vada, and built a state-of-the art hotel called the Hotel Sommerville. The Hotel later became the Dunbar Hotel and subsequently hosted the first NAACP national convention on the West coast. It was also “the most popular Jazz and Blues scene in Los Angeles…frequented by guests such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie…Langston Hughes and W.B. Dubois,” according to WAHA’s A Stroll Through Wellington Square brochure.

Actress Dorothy Dandridge and her mother Ruby both once lived in Wellington Square as did Nick Stewart who played “Lightnin” on the Amos and Andy TV series and wasthe founder of the Ebony Showcase. The Showcase was later replaced by the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, current home of the Ebony Repertory Theatre.

Another notable current feature of Wellington Square is the Wellington Square Farmers Market. Established in 2010 and held every Sunday from 1-4 p.m., the popular Sunday Market provides a welcome addition to Wellington Square’s overall history. And the history of Wellington Square adds a welcome chapter to the history of Mid-City L.A.

West Blvd. Bridge Hearing – TOMORROW – Please Attend Or Write In For Support

There is a meeting downtown tomorrow (Thursday) for the West Blvd. Bridge, which MINC and WAHA are trying to get it declared a historical landmark, and therefore protected to a large degree. Please see the attached document.

 If you can attend, please do so – otherwise there is an email address at the bottom of this message that you may write to as well.  The more people that write in and show support – the better.

(The bridge is over Venice Blvd near Lowes.)

Please see the message below from WAHA President, John Patterson.

—– Forwarded Message ——

From: President – West Adams Heritage 
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 12:49 PM
Subject: West Bridge CH Commission Hearing on Thursday

 I’m pleased to let you know that the Cultural Heritage Commission will be hearing WAHA’s submission written by Mitzi Mogul on the West Bridge nomination on Thursday, 8/2 at 10:00 a.m. on the 10th floor hearing room of City Hall. 

 It would be very helpful to actively solicited interested members of the neighborhood to attend this meeting to show community support for the nomination.  Please be sure to distribute an announcement to your general MINC mailing lists.   Please find below some notes provided by Mitzi that offer a few suggestions for either the email itself and/or comments that people might be able to share during the public comment portion of the hearing, or in letters that could be emailed to Lambert Giessinger at the Cultural Heritage Commission.

 Thanks for help in getting the word out!!

 John Patterson

 The following are suggestions for comments to be made to the Cultural Heritage Commission at the hearing on August 2, 2012 . Feel free to use your own words to express these thoughts or add your own personal feelings. The purpose of the hearing is for the Commission to decide whether to take the nominations “under consideration” — the first step in the process.  Community support is crucial.


 1. The bridge is the direct result of a significant event (Great Train Wreck of 1913) and changed the course of urban development and transportation patterns. The current bridge was constructed in 1933.

 2.  It is an iconic landmark marking the western entry to the West Adams district.

 3.  While the train made possible the creation of new neighborhoods, the bridge directly facilitated their success.

 4.  This bridge was designed and built to accommodate trains, automobiles, and pedestrians.

 5.  The Art Deco design is elegant and complete in its integrity. The use of the Art Deco style demonstrates civic maturity in public works (as opposed to private structures, ie office buildings, theaters, homes, etc.).

 6.   It is one of only two bridges of this type on the “west side” (the other is Main Street in Santa Monica over the freeway) and therefore also represents an era when various modes of transportation were in harmony with architectural design and engineering improvements. (By “type” we mean not over water and not simply a single-use bridge, ie footbridge, auto, or train.)

Attached are some bullet points for the two nominations before the Cultural Heritage Commission on Thursday. 

In lieu of attendance, letters of support can be sent by email to Lambert.Giessinger@lacity.org, attention Cultural Heritage Commission.

WAHA – West Blvd. Bridge Hearing

The West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA), along with MINC has submitted its application to monument the West Street Bridge. 

The hearing is Aug. 2 at 10:00a, 10th fl, City Hall at the Cultural Heritage Commission office. If anyone can come in support, it would be greatly appreciated. This is your chance to do something to help our immediate area. Preventing the demolition of the bridge preserves history and keeps the road underneath from becoming an even busier corridor. 

Any questions, contact Thom Washington (t2r2w2@yahoo.com), the MINC rep in charge of the committee to save and beautify the bridge  – or LaFayette Sq. neighbor Mitzi Mogul, the person who wrote the application.

Historic Core’s Hidden Batchelder Soda Parlor Returning to Life – Preservation Watch – Curbed LA

Historic Core’s Hidden Batchelder Soda Parlor Returning to Life

Wednesday, June 6, 2012, by Adrian Glick Kudler


Images via the Dutch Chocolate Shop

Behind a beat up looking storefront on Sixth Street near Broadway lies an elaborate, Dutch-themed, tiled interior designed by the famous tilist Ernest Batchelder in his first major commission. It appears to have been used most recently as a Metro PCS store (the secret was locked up behind steel grates and particle board). But now the old Chocolate Shoppe is being brought back to life by something called The Dutch Chocolate Shop. Historian Richard Schave recently brought a group in for a tour of the under-refurbishment space (which is designated a city historic-cultural monument) and, along with architectural historian Nathan Marsak and tile expert Brian Kaiser, explains the background and restoration in a video after the jump.

According to the dearly departed Big Orange Landmarks blog, the building was built in 1898 and the groundfloor space was converted into a soda parlor around 1914 by architects Plummer & Feil. Batchelder was hired for the tile job: “I’m talking floor, walls, and ceiling, with larger tiles – around 4” x 4” – laid into the walls while bigger murals beneath the groined arches (really, that’s what they’re called) are more mosaic.” It was supposed to be a prototype for a chain of European country-themed soda shops, but this was the only location ever built. (And it was immortalized in the 1918 Dorothy Gish film The Hope Chest.) The space became Finney’s Cafeteria at an unknown later date and in 1986 the space sold to owners who ended up turning it into a crappy arcade. Who knows what happened between then and now, but it was apparently all good–the Dutch Chocolate Shop website promises “The Chocolate Shop is coming back to life. Ernest Batchelder’s unique murals can be seen again!”

· Countdown to Batchelder [Official Site]
· No. 137 – Finney’s Cafeteria [Big Orange Landmarks]

2012 Historic Western Heights Home & Garden Tour

The 2012 Historic Western Heights Home & Garden Tour will be held Sunday, June 3, 2012, from 11am to 4pm.  

Tickets can be bought through PayPal on line at www.westernheightsonline.com or through the mail.  Check out the neighborhood on Facebook or the website. 

Region 5 Working To Become Next Named Area in MINC

At last month’s MINC Stakeholder Meeting, we learned of the attempt to name the neighborhood that is Region 5 in MINC to West View Highlands.  The naming campaign is being spearheaded by Region 5 stakeholder Jess Bravo, who is also a real estate agent in the area.

As Jess explains:  “I came up with this name while doing a ‘farm’ in the area.  During research of properties, I came across the city’s map through Zimas. The only Tract that had a name (not a number) was West View St.  With that, I thought what a great name for a neighborhood, considering we are facing West and some houses have a view of the west side.  Also during a conversation with a friend, she suggested using Highlands, since we are on high land.  So that’s how I got to this point.  Now I am at the beginning stages per the City’s requirements.”  It also follows with the naming of several other neighborhoods in the area – most notably Longview Highlands, which is along the same basic tract, just further north in the City.

Currently, there are three named areas within MINC – Victoria Park, Lafayette Square, and Wellington Square – all of which were named in the City when they were originally developed almost 100 years ago.  But in more recent times, other neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles, have taken steps to have their neighborhood named.  There is a process for doing so, which has been laid out by the City.  The first step in the process is obtaining signatures on a petition from residents within the named region.

Jess is currently working to obtain 500 signatures from within the Region 5 boundaries.  Those boundaries are as follows:

North: south side of Washington Blvd.
West: both sides of West Blvd.
South: 10 Freeway wall
East: east side of La Brea Ave.

If you leave in Region 5, you might have already encountered Jess or her volunteers knocking on your door.  But if you’d like more information, or would like to contact Jess to support her efforts, she can be reached at the information below:

Jess Bravo 
(213) 400-4735


And if any other neighborhoods in the MINC area would like to take up efforts to do the same thing with you region, feel free to contact MINC President, Allan DiCastro, and he can fill you in on what is needed, and the steps you’ll need to undertake to begin.

Saving the Golden State Mutual Murals – WAHA Tour This Saturday 6/4

WAHA’s tour of African American landmarks in West Adams is this Saturday, June 4th.  Golden State Mutual Insurance company built and curated an incredible art collection that is being auctioned off, and WAHA would like attention drawn to art that should stay in Los Angeles, preferably at the California African American Museum and Exposition Park.    Please spread the word and come join this walk through history.  


West Adams’ Golden Legacies
West Adams Heritage Association
presents Golden State Mutual Life Building & Murals
Cultural Landmarks of African American History
Annual Spring Tour
Saturday June 4, 2011 | Noon – 4 p.m. | visit www.westadamsheritage.org for more information

WAHA Art Tour 2 for 1 Special for Neighborhood News Readers

West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA) presents the second annual Art in Historic Places Tour,
“Celebrate the Arts – Artists of West Adams.”

This Saturday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the public will be able to experience not only eight historic homes but also view the work of the artists who live and create within these homes.

As a Neighborhood News reader, you can purchase two tickets for the price of one ($30). All you have to do is go to the tour’s check-in location and mention The Neighborhood News when you buy your tickets.

 Check in at WAHA’s “Pop-Up” art gallery, 1824 S. 4th Avenue (located on the corner of 4th Avenue and Washington Boulevard). The last day-of-tour tickets will be sold at 1 p.m., and most tour properties will close promptly at 4 p.m. Visit www.WestAdamsHeritage.org or write tours@westadamsheritage.org for more information.

This is a self-guided drive-yourself (or bike-yourself) tour, with a brochure and map that will guide visitors to these historic venues, toured in any order and at their own pace. Visitors are encouraged to set aside several hours to enjoy the tour.

 This is a popular event. Read what NBC Los Angeles has to say about it:

A Preservation Victory

WAHA is pleased to let you know that we have another reason to celebrate this holiday season. After several years of historic preservation advocacy by WAHA, Mount St. Mary’s College, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and many other concerned West Adams residents who wanted to keep the Chester Place Historic District intact and save the Zanja, Mount St. Mary’s College has stepped in and purchased the St. Vincent church parking lot. This will end a development proposal that would have significantly impacted the character-defining features of the historic setting by its massing, scale, and spatial relationships. At this time, the open space will be preserved.

As you can see from Mount St. Mary’s College announcement (below), the proposed development of student housing at Figueroa and Adams would have had many negative effects on Chester Place and its many historic structures, along with serious impacts on the students and the nuns who live adjacent to the property. WAHA has been equally concerned ever since the project was announced for this historically sensitive location in Historic West Adams.

We thank Mount St. Mary’s for being a great neighbor and a true partner in our historic preservation efforts.

The WAHA Board would also like to thank the members of WAHA’s Historic Preservation Committee (Jean Frost, Chair, Jim Childs, Laura Meyers, Mitzi March Mogul, David Raposa, Roland Souza, Eric Bronson), who worked tirelessly to prepare (literally) hundreds of pages of documentation and testimony in support of saving the historic district and opposing the project. It underscores the reason why WAHA, through its Historic Preservation Committee, takes the time to diligently review environmental documents and arrange for appearances at public hearings. In this matter, the proposed development began with a Mitigated Negative Declaration which was circulated for comment. The comment by WAHA and others was responsible for the City requiring an EIR. Later, the Draft and Final EIR provided the opportunity to scrutinize the true effects of the project. With the Final EIR being issued, WAHA was reaching a crossroad regarding what action might be necessary to prevent this insensitive and harmful proposed project. This will now be unnecessary. Many other WAHA members joined this effort, including John Arnold, Maggi Fajnor, Jim Robinson, Suzanne Lloyd Simmons, Terry Speth, and so many others too numerous to mention. We appreciate everyone’s effort to make this hard-fought victory a reality.

That said, it is truly Mount St. Mary’s College that deserves our special thanks today. Please join me in a big round of applause!!

My best regards this Holiday Season,

John Patterson, PresidentWest Adams Heritage Association

Mount St. Mary’s College announcement:

Dear neighbors:

Mount St. Mary’s College President Jacqueline Powers Doud just made the following announcement to the College community, and I wanted to make sure that you had also received the news.

Mount St. Mary’s College closed escrow today on the St. Vincent church parking lot, which had been purchased by a developer in March 2007. The building project that had been proposed for the lot would have adversely affected the surrounding neighborhood, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet at Stimson House and the College in several ways, including compromising privacy, elevated noise levels, shadowing and diminished views. One of the overriding factors in this decision is the adverse impact the building project would have had on the unique historical and cultural character of our neighborhood.

We do not have current plans to build on the lot, but will continue to use it for parking. We will also provide the St. Vincent parishioners with parking for liturgical services and other official Church functions on the site. Historical preservation of our Doheny campus is a priority to the College, and we are pleased to be part of the West Adams neighborhood.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Debbie ReamDirector of Public Relations
Mount St. Mary’s College
10 Chester Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
213.477.2544 Fax