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Neighborhood Spotlight: West Adams, Los Angeles

Written by Kelly Weimert on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 at 10:05am.

Source: startlosangeles.com 

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, West Adams was developed by Hulett C. Merritt and Henry E. Huntington during the late 19th century and was once the wealthiest district in the city. The neighborhood became known for its affluence and exclusivity, with prominent figures like William Andrew Clark, Frederick Rindge, and Isadore Dockweiller calling it home. 

Beginning around 1910, the neighborhood’s demographic began to shift. During this time, West Adams’ mostly upper-class white residents began to move to newly-developing areas like the West Side, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills, while the city’s wealthiest African Americans started to move to West Adams, including Marvin Gaye, Butterfly McQueen, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

West Adams 1940s Office Building
Source: paulrwilliamsproject.org

Additionally, famed African American architect, Paul Williams, designed a number of the area’s most prominent buildings, including the 1949 Moderne building that once housed the country’s largest African American-owned insurers, the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. 

Old Photo of West Adams Los Angeles
Source: startlosangeles.com 

Fast forward to today, and the neighborhood’s rich history is readily apparent thanks to its abundant historic architecture. Many of West Adams’ buildings were constructed between 1880 and 1925 and feature architectural styles that span ornate Victorian mansions to sturdy Craftsman residences. Many of the historic homes have been featured in movies and television shows, like Six Feet Under, Monk, CSI, and Of Mice and Men. 

Some highlights of the neighborhood’s architecture include the Forthmann House designed by Burgess J. Reeve. Built in 1887, the home is a classic example of the Victorian architecture that West Adams is known for. 

West Adams Forthmann House Victorian Architecture
Source: wikipedia.org

The John B. Kane Residence is another prominent display of historic Queen Anne Victorian architecture in the neighborhood. It was built in 1892 and has since been designated as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument. 

West Adams Gordon L. McDonough House Craftsman Architecture
Source: wikipedia.org

In addition to Victorian homes, the neighborhood features many beautiful Craftsman homes, like the Gordon L. McDonough House designed by Frank M. Tyler in 1908. The house has been well-preserved over the years, still featuring its original beamed ceilings, wainscoting, and butler’s pantry today.

West Adams Historic Landmark Homes
Source: la.curbed.com

To help preserve the neighborhood's architecture, the city designated several West Adams areas as Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, including Harvard Heights, Lafayette Square, and West Adams Terrace. In addition to 19th- and early-20th-century buildings, the neighborhood is home to newer housing developments that are relatively affordable and a short commute away from the tech hub of Culver City. 

West Adams is also a favorite for outdoor enthusiasts, offering easy access to local favorites like Kenneth Hahn Park, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, and the Ballona Creek Bike Path. And after working up a sweat outside, visitors and residents can grab a bite at any number of delicious restaurants that serve up everything from tacos to soul food to barbecue. 

The neighborhood’s convenient locale, delicious food, and stunning architecture combined with its small-town, communal feel has resulted in a highly diverse population that lovingly calls it home.


Looking for a place to call home in this historic neighborhood? Check out all homes for sale in West Adams today. 

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