“In the unplanned early-day chaos of Los Angeles, West Adams Heights was obviously something very special,” Carey McWilliams wrote in 1949, “an island in an ocean of bungalows—approachable, but withdrawn and reclusive.”
Here are five of the most history-rich houses in West Adams – one of LA’s most prominent historical neighborhoods.
The Walker House
The historic Walker House was designed by architect, Charles Whittlesey. He was known for his work in the Victorian, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival architectural styles, which are characterized by their use of ornate decoration and asymmetrical forms. Whittlesey designed many LA-based residential and commercial buildings. Some of his most notable works include the famous Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, the Beverly Hills High School, and the Pacific Mutual Building in Los Angeles.
The Walker House was originally built as a single-family home for Charles and Harriet Walker, who were prominent members of the West Adams community. The house features a number of unique architectural elements, including a red tile roof, exposed rafters, and a large front porch. In recent years, the Walker House has been used for various purposes, including as a boarding house, a church, and a commercial office space. The building was also in a state of disrepair for many years, and was in danger of being demolished.
However, in recent years, the building has undergone a major restoration and revitalization effort. The Walker House was designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1971 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
The Guasti Villa
Built in the early 1900s by businessman and philanthropist, Secondo Guasti, the Villa is considered an important example of the Mediterranean Revival architectural style, featuring a red tile roof, arched windows and doorways, and a central courtyard.
After Secondo Guasti’s death, the Villa was converted into a hotel, and later served as a convalescent home and a senior living center. The Villa fell into disrepair over the years and was in danger of being demolished. However, in recent years, it has undergone a major restoration and revitalization effort.
Glen Lukens House
Glen Lukens was a prominent ceramic artist who lived and worked in Los Angeles in the early 20th century. His house was designed by Raphael Soriano. Soriano was known for his work in the International Style, which is characterized by its use of clean lines, geometric forms, and minimal ornamentation.
Soriano was born in Cuba, but he moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where he began his career as an architect. Soriano’s work is considered to be a major influence on the development of the California modern architectural style, which has characterized by its use of natural materials, openness and integration with the surrounding landscape. Unfortunately, some of his works have been demolished over the years, and it’s difficult to find many of them today.
Hattie McDaniels Residence
Hattie McDaniel was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian. She was the first African American to win an Academy Award, which she received in 1940 for her supporting role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.
The area gets its name from the Sugar Hill Gang, a group of African American musicians, who popularized the term in the 1970s. It was once an exclusive neighborhood for the wealthy, including many prominent African American business leaders and celebrities. The area has a rich history and was home to some of the most prominent figures of the African American community in the early 20th century.
Sugar Hill is considered one of the most diverse and historic neighborhoods in West Adams, with a mix of architectural styles, including Victorian, Craftsman, Mediterranean, and Colonial Revival. Today, the neighborhood is a mix of single-family homes and apartment buildings, and is considered a desirable place to live for its proximity to downtown Los Angeles and its historic character.
The Wells-Halliday Mansion
The Dutch Colonial-style Wells-Halliday Mansion was built for Eliza Halliday. Ms. Halliday resided in the 12 room estate until about 1920.
From 1993 until 2006, it was run as the Carl Bean AIDS Care Center, a hospice for AIDS patients.
As described by the LA Times when the AIDS clinic launched in 1993:
It’s the homey, Craftsman-style interior of the old building–with its warm wood paneling, colorfully stenciled floors and Arts and Crafts tiled fireplaces–that gives the hospice its heart.