Aug 112016


Learn about history of our city by visiting Los Angeles’ oldest buildings and structures!

There was life in Los Angeles area some ten or twenty thousand years back. The La Brea Tar Pits testify to it. There was also lively Native Indian population in the area way before the Spanish established El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles di Porciúncula, named for Our Lady of the Angeles. Right or wrong, we consider September 4th 1781 the date the city of Los Angeles was founded. Our oldest buildings date back to early 1800s.

The Hellman / Quon

The building is named after its two long-time owners, Isaias Hellman, who built it in 1900, and Quon How Shing who owned it from 1921 until it was acquired by the State of California for the historic park in 1954. The building was constructed as a square Victorian commercial brick building with seven separate units. Currently the building is used for exhibitions meetings, and education workshops.

Italian Hall

Designed by architect Julius Kraus and built by the Pozzo Construction Company, the Italian Hall (1907-08), located on the corner of North Main Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue served as an important cultural and social center for the Italians of Los Angeles and is one of seven buildings at El Pueblo that were associated with the Italian community. For more than two decades, it was the site of meetings, banquets and dances as well as the headquarters for groups such as the Garibaldina Society (1888) and Il Circolo Operaio Italiano (Italian Workers Club).  Pete Pontrelli’s orchestra played there weekly.  The building also served as a starting point for weekend food races and location for festivities such as the vendemnia, or Italian wine harvest celebration. The Hall also hosted internationally-known figures such as Emma Goldman and Ricardo Flores Magón.

The Italian presence at El Pueblo begins in 1823, when Giovanni Leandri opened a store and built an adobe where the Plaza Firehouse now stands. In the 19th century, significant numbers of Italians lived at El Pueblo and owned or operated one-third of businesses in the Plaza area.

Part of El Pueblo Historical Monument, the Italian Hall will soon open as a museum celebrating the contributions of Italian Americans in the development of California.  If you have additional questions, please contact (213) 485-8432

Masonic Hall

Freemasonry became popular in the United States in the 1850s and a lodge was started in Los Angeles in 1854. In 1858 Lodge 42 asked William Hayes Perry, a mason, and his partner James Brady to build a lodge room on the second floor of a building they were constructing at 426 North Main street for their carpentry and furniture-making business. Lodge 42 loaned Perry and Brady the money for the construction. The Masonic Hall was finished by November, after which the Masons paid a rent of $20 a month. The building was a two story unpainted brick structure with a symbolic “masonic eye” below the parapet. The Masons used this building for their meetings until 1868 when they moved to larger quarters further south.

Merced Theater

The Merced Theatre was built in 1870 and is one of the oldest structures erected in Los Angeles for the presentation of dramatic performances. It served as the center of theatrical activity in the city from 1871 to 1876.

The theatre was built by William Abbot, the son of Swiss immigrants who settled in Los Angeles in 1854. In 1858, he married the woman for whom he would name the theatre, Maria Merced Garcia, the daughter of José Antonio Garcia and María Guadalupe Uribe, who were long-time residents of the Los Angeles pueblo. The theatre was designed by Ezra F. Kysor, the architect of the Pico House.

Pico House

The Pico House built by Pío Pico, last governor of California under Mexican rule, who lived almost the entire length of the nineteenth century, from 1801 to 1894. This was the first three story building and the first grand hotel in Los Angeles. Pico chose architect Ezra F. Kysor to design the “finest hotel in Los Angeles”. Construction began on September 18, 1869, and the hotel opened for business on June 9, 1870. To raise funds for the building and furnishing of the hotel, Pío and his brother Andrés sold most of their vast landholdings in the SanPico House from across the Historic Plaza. Fernando Valley. The hotel was built in the Italianate style, with deep set round-arched windows and doors and the Main Street and Plaza facades were stuccoed to resemble blue granite. The hotel had eighty two bedrooms and twenty one parlors as well as bathrooms and water closets for each sex on each floor

Plaza Catholic Church

The Plaza church was dedicated in December 1822, as la Iglesia de Nuestra Senora (the Church of Our Lady). It is the only building at El Pueblo that is still used for its original purpose.

Open Daily;Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church—known by locals as La Placita Church—is the oldest church in the city and today serves as an active parish of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  For address and phone number, click on a photo below.

Plaza Methodist Church

The Church is located on the site of the Tapia/Olvera adobe, which served as an early service building for the United Methodist Church mission in Los Angeles.  The Methodist Church wa also the founding agent in Southern California for Goodwill Industries.  The adobe was torn down in 1917 and, nine years later, architects Train and Williams completed this Churrigeresque-style church.  The building was altered in the 1960s.

Founders Plaque

Located in the Plaza, the Founders Plaque pays tribute to the 44 settlers (known as pobladores) of the pueblo of Los Angeles, (town of the Queen of the Angels).

Biscailuz Building

This building, located on the site of the Juan Sepulveda adobe, was designed as the Untied Methodist Church Conference headquarters and the Plaza Community Center.  In 1968, the building was re-named after Eugene Biscailuz, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff, who had helped Christine Sterling in her struggle to save this historic section of Los Angeles.  In 1979, Leo Politi painted a mural on the south and east facades that depicts the Blessing of the Animals, a traditional event held in the Park every year on Easter Sunday.

Has your curiosity been piqued? Visit L.A. City’s Website for more information…