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Alvarado Terrace Historic District – Part 4

Feb 11, 2011 by Lisa Newton

This is the last series of our set of 4 tours of the cultural, ethnic and historical area of the Alvarado Terrace Historic District of Los Angeles.

Well known cities like New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, Boston and a host of others have our native history written both in their cities and in their architecture. Indeed, the two are inseparable.

Unique to each story, both the new and the old coexist; not only in words and details but they all possess a special unspoken aura with their role in our nation’s history and times gone by; but as well in their physical existence.

With this series of Los Angeles’ Alvarado Terrace District, it happens to be both a feeling and knowing that all of the area’s buildings and homes there have a tale to tell, and it’s been our desire from the beginning of this series to convey that to our readers.

For the Alvarado Terrace Historic District’s buildings, it isn’t as much as becoming aware which structure is historic–rather for each one of us, hopefully in our own special ways and feelings, there’s a sixth sense and knowing that many before us–that are long deceased who played important and major roles in the growth and development of Los Angeles–that the test of time, history, and events played an important role which allows us to understand where we’re headed as a city, just as much as we learn how we got here.

The Pico-Union district, over time, has seen its ups and downs. Once a predominantly white/Jewish neighborhood, Pico-Union is now a sanctuary for first-generation Hispanic immigrants, particularly Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans.

That’s how cities live, breathe and grow. Immigrants come here for a better life and live where they can afford within their means, and raise families and start business, which then, enables them to want for a better word “move on up.”

With a population of about 45,000 people and measuring 1.67 square miles, Pico-Union’s density of 25,352 people per square mile makes it one of the most densely populated areas of Los Angeles. Its 85% Latino population makes it one of the least ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city.

But, going there, walking around and recalling history, is part of the unique LA experience.

Located at 1515 South Hoover Street is a house built in 1905. A classic Queen Anne Victorian, this house is a single family home with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Coming in at 3,836 square feet, this house would make a great family home.

Just across the street from the church featured in Alvarado Terrace Historic District – Part 3 is 1458 Alvarado Terrace, a 2½ story Craftsman with a couple of cool features. Note the leaded glass transom and the detailed balcony dormer. Although the outside of this house looks much like it did when it was built, as with several of these houses, the interior is totally different.

As you continue to walk back toward Alvarado Terrace, each house you pass has a story behind it, like 1406 Alvarado Terrace. Built in 1906 and named after its first owner, Manuel Riveroll, this Colonial Revival is the only one of this style on the Terrace. Riveroll was the of son of Teodoro Riveroll, the first popularly elected Governor of Baja “Lower” California.

What I noticed first about 1400 Alvarado Terrace was its cool brick and stone pillars. This two-story Craftsman, built in 1905, was the honeymoon cottage for M.H. Hannas and Grace Powers, daughters of Pomeroy Powers, who lived right across the street.

Be sure to take notice of the small and unique angled bay window above the porch on the Malvern side of the house.

By the way, Hannas House was the 2009 Residential winner for Historic Rehabilitation/Restoration Award sponsored by the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.

Just across the street from Hannas House is the Beyrle House, Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 244. This classic two-story Craftsman, located at 1866 West 14th Street, used to face Malvern Avenue, but in the early 80s, the entrance was changed to face Terrace Park.

Although much of the house is no longer visible from the photograph above, its details can be seen in person. Designed by architects, Hunt & Eager, the Beyrle House is named after its first owners, Andrew and Laura.

Beyrle was President of the California Planting Mill and Lumber Company and later the California Fire-Proof Door Company. Interesting to note, Beyrle’s brother and business partner Robert, a structural engineer, built the famous Broadway Tunnel, touted to be the largest tunnel in diameter at the time.

This tour is by no means meant to both show you and provide a sense of the entire Alvarado Terrace Historic District. However, by walking around this neighborhood so steeped in Los Angeles’ culture and history, it often feels like you’ve be taken back to an era decades before.

When spend some time on the neighboring streets; Malvern Avenue, South Bonnie Brae Street, and especially South Westlake Avenue, all have unique and exceptional houses you won’t see in any other part of the city.

Make no mistake though, as Los Angeles continues to grow in population and industry, Alvarado Terrace’s history is very much in the current as its gentrification and modern growth are very much alive.

Such are the nature of cities–especially the one we call our home, Los Angeles.

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Architecture, Culture, Family, Los Angeles, SoCal
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