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Historic Los Angeles Neighborhood a Magnet for Artists


The West Adams district of Los Angeles has many homes in the Arts and Crafts style, some with Japanese and South Sea influences

The West Adams district of Los Angeles has many homes in the Arts and Crafts style, some with Japanese and South Sea influences

Los Angeles became a booming city after World War II, and most of its homes and buildings have been constructed since then. But in some neighborhoods, older homes are being renovated by residents returning from the suburbs. One Los Angeles neighborhood, now home to many artists, celebrate its heritage.

It's called the West Adams district; it's southwest of the city center. Just off the busy streets are quiet cul-de-sacs with homes from earlier times - 19th century Victorians with steep roofs and spires, in pink, green or beige pastels. There are homes of a later style known as Arts and Crafts, in deep earth colors of green and brown, some with Japanese and South Sea influences.

The neighborhood is now an important art center, says homeowner John Patterson, president of the West Adams Heritage Association. The association sponsored a walking tour on a recent weekend, where artist-residents opened their homes to visitors.

"Over the last several years, West Adams has become an artist community, and we realize that in addition to restored homes, they were actively being used as studios, and right now we're sharing not only the beautiful architectural heritage but also the art that is being created," he said.

One Spanish revival home from 1932 is stuccoed with a red tiled roof and curved archways. It's inspiration for artist Georgia Toliver, who paints and sculpts under the name Tolanna. Inside the home is workmanship seldom seen today: handmade stained-glass windows and original tile work.

This Spanish revival home from 1932 provides inspiration for artist Georgia Toliver. Inside is workmanship seldom seen today - handmade stained glass windows and tile work

This Spanish revival home from 1932 provides inspiration for artist Georgia Toliver. Inside is workmanship seldom seen today - handmade stained glass windows and tile work

"Eighty years old and it's still here," she said. "That's much better than the stuff that lasts 10 years and you have to replace."

Artist Donald Ferguson also lives in the area. He says his historic home has been lovingly restored over decades.

"It's been a lifelong process. I've been here for 35 years," he said.

He calls the neighborhood an urban oasis.

Many homes are so-called "fixer uppers," meaning they need work. Homeowner Elizabeth Fenner, who moved here from the suburbs, says it's worth the effort.

"I think L.A.'s coming to its own renaissance because getting to know our history makes us excited about our present," she said.

John Patterson, the neighborhood advocate, says West Adams is a special place in this modern city.

"Mostly because there is so little in L.A. that's old and this neighborhood developed around an appreciation for what was old and the beauty of restoring it and the sense of community," he said.

Residents say this historic neighborhood, now revived as an art center, will be an important part of the city's future.

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