Angeleno Heights is a neighborhood in Mideast Los Angeles (or “MELA“). After Bunker Hill (which is no longer suburban), Angeleno Heights is one of the city’s oldest suburbs. After the Victorian homes of Bunker Hill were razed in the 1950s, Angeleno Heights became the largest concentration of Victorian homes, or “painted ladies” in the city.
Angeleno Heights was always predominantly residential and it remains a quiet neighborhood dotted with churches with Echo Park to the west, the Echo Park neighborhood of Sunset Heights to the north, the Echo Park neighborhood of Victor Heights and the Chinatown neighborhood of Alpine Hill to the east, the downtown Civic Center to the southeast, and Historic Filipinotown and Temple-Beaudry to the south. Many people consider it a district within Echo Park although in reality it predates Echo Park’s existence by a good few years and has a very different character from its larger, younger neighbor.
THE BEGINNINGS OF ANGELENO HEIGHTS
In 1886, William W. Stilson and Everett E. Hall filed for ownership of a tract of land called “Angeleño Heights.” The same year, the Temple Street Cable Railway began operation, connecting the tract to nearby downtown Los Angeles and making this newly purchased tract desirable to developers and up-and-coming Angelenos, including many Jews from Boyle Heights and Italians from nearby Little Italy (now Chinatown). The tilde in “Angeleño” was dropped, almost immediately — apparently because there is no “ñ” in the English alphabet (I say, apparently, because even in English, we spell “jalapeño” with one and pronounce it correctly, for the most part). Why many Angelenos began misspelling “Angeleno” as “Angelino” remains a mystery.
A year later, with a housing boom in full swing, construction of new homes began, especially along Carroll Avenue. The housing boom went bust in 1888 and construction abruptly halted but many of the beautiful homes erected that year remain today. Hall lived in the neighborhood, in an Eastlake home that was constructed at 917 Douglas St.
Stilson, too, chose to live in the neighborhood in a quaint thirty room home with a ballroom on the third floor. Sadly, it was later stripped of most of its Eastlake and Queen Anne ornamentations. They were removed and it was stuccoed over and turned into a multi-unit rooming house. Thankfully, it was purchased in 2000 and the current owner hopes to restore it. On the day that I passed by, the air was loud with the sound of power tools emanating from within.
VICTORIAN CARROLL AVE
The Phillips House (1300 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1887 and was the resident of merchant Aaron P. Philips. For my money, it’s the loveliest…
The Ford House (1316 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1887 for land agent George O. Ford. Somehow I missed this one, which is why I nicked a photo taken by someone else on a sunny day.
The Russell House (1316 Carroll Avenue) was completed in 1888 for retired miner and former major Horace M. Russell.
The Heim House (1320 Carroll Avenue) was built for brewer and saloon owner Ferdinand A. Heim in 1887.
The Scheerer House (1324 Carroll Avenue) was probably a catalog (Montgomery Ward or Sears & Roebuck, most likely) home and was built for businessman John Scheerer in 1887.
The Innes House (1329 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1887 for City Councilman Daniel Innes and was featured on The WB program Charmed. The Hiram B. Irey House (1325 Carroll Avenue) was constructed in 1887.
The Sessions House (1330 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1889 for dairyman Charles Sessions.
The Foy House (1337 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1872, before the founding of Angeleno Heights. Its original home was in Bunker Hill at 7th and Figueroa.
The Haskin House (1344 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1894 for real estate developer Charles C. Haskin.
The Michael Sanders House (1345 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1887 for the warehouse operator. It was featured in the Michael Jackson video “Thriller.”
The Pinney House (1355 Carroll Avenue) was built in 1887 for Henry L. Pinney. His son Charles was listed in 1894 as one of LA’s most eligible bachelors in the Blue Book.
The James S. Luckenbach residence was built in 1887. It was sold in 1902 to Union Bank founder Kaspare Cohn, who turned it into the Kaspare Cohn Hospital for Consumptives.
OTHER HISTORIC HOMES OF THE ERA
Next is the Moses Langley Wicks home (1101 Douglas St). Wicks was a lawyer and real estate speculator who was also the first president of the Los Angeles County Railroad Company and a primary promoter of the Red Car Line. In a case of what now passes for irony, he died after fracturing his skull on a streetcar rail.
The Galbreth Residence (1239 Boston Street) was built around 1886 and is named after attorney E. Edgar Galbreth. If you can’t see, someone has crossed out all the Boston St signs and scrawled “Lakers.”
The Hall Twins (1343 and 1347 Kellam Avenue) were both built in 1887 with identical floor plans for members of the Hall family.
The John Fonnell Residence (1334 Kellam Ave) was built in 1889 for the German painter.
The Weller Residence (824 E Kensington Rd) was built in 1894 for Zachariah Weller and originally stood in Bunker Hill at 401 North Figueroa. It’s pretty amazing.
EARLY 20th CENTURY ANGELENO HEIGHTS
In 1902, Henry E. Huntington converted the old Temple Street Cable Railway to an electric line and a second wave of development began in the early 20th century. Most of the new homes were built in the Craftsman style. The Craftsman style is dominant, I’d say, and my preferred style, but if anyone would like to will me an Angeleno Heights home in either the Craftsman or Victorian style home, I’ll take it (or them).
Not all was well and good in the hood, however. In 1907, a crazed killer poisoned ten dogs and several cats, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Oilman Charles H. Daggett and his wife, Sarah Marilla Bidwell, moved to California from Minneapolis in 1901 and had their home (1405 Kellam Ave) constructed in the Mission Revival style around 1909.
THE MARKETS OF ANGELENO HEIGHTS
Nowadays there are several convenience store/mini-marts like Leo Market, Phuoc Hing Mini Market, Three D Market, and Royale Liquor Jr. Market serving residents of and visitors to Angeleno Heights. In the past, there were four others, three of which have today been converted to residences.
Harry Smookler’s grocery operated at 954 East Edgeware on a lot he purchased in 1906. The Smookler family lived in back. Tragically, just before Christmas 1912, the grocer gave his fifteen-year-old son, Willie, a “slight chastisement” whereupon Willie borrowed a pistol from his buddy Waldo Hardeson and shot himself to death through the mouth.
Just down the street from Smookler’s, Driggs Bros Market opened in 1911 and kept operating until 1984. The Driggs brothers were B. Ruggles and John W., who lived in the neighborhood at 816 East Kensington and 1100 West Kensington, respectively.
Bob’s Market (1230 Bellevue Avenue) was built in 1913 by George F. Colterison for Ella J. McMillen. In 1914, it was home to Levon Melkonian‘s tailor shop. In 1934, it became a dry cleaning business for Abram and Miriam Kooper. In 1965, it was purchased by Bob and Keiko Nimura. It appeared as Toretto‘s store in the film The Fast And The Furious. Across the street is the former Bethel Temple, built in 1931. For some time now it’s functioned as The Iglesia Evangelica Latina.
At The B & K Market at the northwest corner of Bellevue and West Edgeware, the old Knudsen is The Very Best sign still hangs, although it’s been painted over. I don’t know the exact date but it was opened by Henry M. Reuter around the same time and he lived behind it.
In the 1920s, a couple of large apartment buildings appeared in the neighborhood. In 1927, at 1168 Bellevue Ave, this 40,000+ square foot complex went up. Over the years it went into steep decline until convicted slumlord Monica Hujazi was charged with 24 counts of housing code violations. It’s currently being restored as The Brownstone Lofts.
A smaller, 15,000 square foot complex was erected in 1929 at nearby 1324 Calumet Ave. Unlike its neighbor, it remains pretty slummy and its online presence is mostly confined to bedbug and cockroach infestation registries.
Fire Station 6 was originally located at 1279 Temple Street, built in 1929. The two-story Mediterranean style structure was moved to its present site in 1948. It’s the oldest extant fire station in the city.
THE DECLINE OF ANGELENO HEIGHTS
After World War II, most of the local toffs had moved away to newer neighborhoods and the Victorian homes proved too expensive to maintain for many of the poorer residents who filled their void. As a result, many of the old homes were divided and converted to multi-unit boarding houses. The 1954 construction of a stretch of the new 101 Freeway saw some of Angeleno Heights destroyed and the rest effectively cut off from Temple-Beaudry to the south.
Around the same time, most of the Victorians in Bunker Hill were razed, leaving Angeleno Heights the largest concentration of Victorian homes in the city. At the same time, Victorians were out of fashion and many hideous dingbats popped up, especially in the westernmost portion. Perhaps in part as a result of the increasingly hideous and cramped housing, in the 1960s crime began to soar. By the early 1970s, Douglas was home to a another sort of painted ladies, as prostitutes and drug dealers posted up.
The racial demographic had changed too, with a large Mexican, Cambodian, and Vietnamese populations replacing the formerly mostly white. However, white people began moving back to the neighborhood. Some came to flip houses to make Angeleno Heights attractive to location scouts. Some came out of an interest in restoring the homes to their former glory. Also, hippies love Victorians. In some cases, the conditions they encountered shocked them. In 1978, when one Anglo owner took over a Victorian, they found 58 people living inside.
As with Heritage Square, it also became a refuge for old homes, with some pre-dating Angeleno Heights’ foundation. In 1983, Angeleno Heights became home of Los Angeles’ first Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. Almost but not all of the neighborhood were covered by this HPOZ, that forces construction to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.
Only the easternmost portion is still anything goes. The most glaring example is the 18,000 square foot Angeleno Heights Favela (1111 Sunvue Place) hillside slum, built in 1992. In the 1990s, as many affluent Latino families moved to Angeleno Heights, again shifting the demographic. The walls, the cover of faded bandages, are heavily tagged and the hillside itself is coated in stucco instead of landscaping.
The neighborhood signs still said “Angelino Heights” until 2008, when Councilman Ed Reyes and his staff replaced them with signs in the correct spelling.
FILMS OF ANGELENO HEIGHTS
With the film industry originally centered in nearby Edendale and with its Victorian character, Angeleno Heights has long been attractive for actors and filmmakers. In the silent era, stars including Canadian Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson moved to the neighborhood.
In addition to the aforementioned Jacko video, Angeleno Heights was also a filming location for Lavender Diamond‘s “Open Your Heart” video.
In film, the house at 1255 Bellevue Ave was featured in LA Confidential. The homes at 846 1/2 E. Kensington Rd appeared in Chinatown. In addition, scenes from East of Eden and Winds of War were filmed in the neighborhood.
EATS & DRINKS
There are only five restaurants that I can think of in the residential neighborhood: Angelino’s Bakery, El Huarache Azteca #2, The Park, Patra and Barragan’s. None, as far as I rate them, are amazing (although I still haven’t tried El Huarache) but all are decent and unpretentious. The Park is a nice American bistro. Barragan’s is a massive Mexican joint that’s been open since 1961 and the kind of “family restaurant” that requires security.
There are only three nightclubs/bars: Club Bahia, El Chubasco and The Gold Room. Club Bahia has live bands who play cumbia, norteña, punta, salsa, bachata, reggaeton, merengue &c for a 30 and 40-something Latina crowd. El Chubasco is a beer-only Cantina that caters to a middle-aged and almost exclusively Latino crowd. The Gold Room used to have a similar clientele and still does until later at night and on weekends, when it becomes quite crowded with “bridge and tunnel” folks drawn by the authenticity and cultural capital possibilities offered by drinking crappy PBR amongst their peers.
Angeleno Heights has two art galleries, Iko Iko and Miss Scarlet in the Parlor. The latter opened in 2010 but is only open by appointment. The former was opened in 2009 by Kristin Dickson and sells art and curios and is located just down the street (Sunset).
OTHER STUFF TO DO
Other stuff to do in Angeleno Heights includes taking the LA Conservancy Angelino Heights Tour, which takes participants to see some of the old homes on the first Saturday of every month. There’s also the annual Haunts of Angeleno Heights tour, held in October.
Until next time!
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