RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Visiting the Victorian architectural past of Los Angeles at Heritage Square Museum


heritge square museumYou can find Victorian-style houses all over the Los Angeles area, mostly built in the 1880s as far as I can tell, but some in the 70s and 90s too.

By the 1960s Victorian homes were out of fashion and many located in neighborhoods slated for redevelopment. Bunker Hill, on the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles, was one such area. Sitting up on an incline, the neighborhood afforded grand views of the city and was inhabited by some of LA’s upper crust citizens.

A couple of houses from Bunker Hill were saved and moved to the newly formed Heritage Square Museum. Unfortunately, they were destroyed by an arson fire shortly afterwards.

heritage square museum

Today about eight Victorian houses, rescued from various neighborhoods, reside at Heritage Square.

A friend of mine who is not a tour guide, but should be (!) organized a trip for some of her work colleagues. One of our stops was at the Museum. We arrived from downtown on the Gold Line and then had quite a trek from the train station in the strong afternoon sun. But it was worth it.

We were met by a docent who regaled us with stories and information. We were allowed to view the downstairs interiors of most of the buildings but photography was prohibited inside.

heritage square museum

The Palms Depot was built in 1875 and later owned by the Pacific Electric Railway. Interestingly, although maybe not too surprisingly, this train station stood very close to where the new Palms station will be located on the Expo Line that is currently being constructed on its way out to Santa Monica.

heritage square museum This reads “THE PALMS RAILROAD STATION.” The station was in use until about the mid 1950s. As anybody who knows me has heard me say a million times, at one time Los Angeles had close to 1500 miles of railroad tracks capable of transporting Angelenos to all corners of the LA area. Now we are busy re-building them.

heritage square museum

John J. Ford House, 1888. Mr. Ford was famous for his wood carving. Don’t you just love all that ginger bread decoration?

heritage square museum

Built in 1897, this is known as the Octogan House, guess why! There are only about 500 octogan houses left standing in the US but apparently at one time they were very popular. They were inexpensive and easy to build. And because of all the small wedge-shaped rooms this construction created, there was plenty of storage space. Yes, there is a room at the top.

heritage square museum 

The Hale House, 1887. Repainted according to chips of paint found from the original construction. Victorians loved brightly colored houses. Many were painted over later on and you can see when current owners are restoring their houses they try to match the colors that may seem rather gaudy to us. I love it!

Wonderful detailing.heritage square museum

Details of the Hale House. I could move in tomorrow!

heritage square museum

Mount Pleasant House, 1876. At the time of its construction this was one of the finest and most expensive homes in Los Angeles.

heritage square museumheritage square museum

Wonderful detailing.

heritage square museum

Shaw House, 1883-1884. When the house was moved to the museum the coral tree came with it.

coral tree, the official tree of Los Angeles.

The coral tree is the official tree of the City of Los Angeles.

The coral tree is the official tree of the City of Los Angeles.

This fine gentleman very graciously posed for his portrait. I am sure he does this several times a day.

The John J. Ford House

There are several other interesting and beautiful buildings to be seen at Heritage Square, but you will have to make the trip out there to see them yourself.

Of course, there are still neighborhoods around the city with Victorians that continue to be lived in, cared for and renovated such as Carroll Avenue and the West Adams District.

Please click on all the photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!


Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles, California. A few years ago I rediscovered photography which is a great excuse to get outside and look. I'm also in the process of re-writing some of my unpublished short stories and possibly a novel. .

3 thoughts on “Visiting the Victorian architectural past of Los Angeles at Heritage Square Museum

  1. That was a great trip you shared with us…thank you.


  2. Thanks; just love the colors of the historic homes!


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