Echo Park Historical Society’s Stairway Walking Tour on Saturday, October 20

The Echo Park Historical Society’s Stairway Walking Tour on Saturday, October 20 at 10 a.m. includes the Baxter Stairs (possibly the city’s longest) as well as Fellowship Park, Red Hill, the modernist Harwell Hamilton Harris house and the restored long lost Lautner house.

This is a modestly strenuous tour that includes one long stairway and several steep hills. The tour is two hours long and shows how these forgotten stairways don’t just link the hills to the flatlands, but the past to the present.

Building interiors are not included.

Free for members, $5 for non-members. Meet at Elysian Heights Elementary School,1562 Baxter St, Los Angeles, CA 90026. (Baxter Street and Echo Park Avenue). For more information email

Enjoy a slice of Preservation Pizza at the Echo Park History Happy Hour!


History Happy Hour / Quarterly Meeting, 5-7 pm on Tuesday, April 19

Join the Echo Park Historical Society for a History Happy Hour as its Quarterly Meeting at Mohawk Bend, 2141 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, April 19.

Help us get a piece of the pie! Our friends at Mohawk Bend will feature Preservation Pizza during the month of April! $4 of every pie sold benefits The Echo Park Historical Society.  $4 of every Preservation Pizza sold at Mohawk Bend in the month of April will benefit The Echo Park Historical Society!

Try the Preservation Pizza at Mohawk Bend during April and help us raise $4 from every pie sold! This pizza features cannellini bean puree, almond ricotta, charred radicchio, grilled onion, arugula, fresh radicchio and balsamic dressing.

Order the Preservation Pizza at @mohawkla during April & they’ll donate $4 to us! Support #EchoPark! RSVP

Take the Echo Park Lake Walking Tour on April 23

Lady of the Lake

Lady of the Lake

Join us for the Echo Park Lake Walking Tour at 10 am on Saturday, April 23. Sponsored by the Echo Park Historical Society, the tour includes a discussion of the origins of Echo Park Lake, a tour of the edge of Angeleno Heights, the site of the American Institute of Mentalism and Angelus Temple. We also talk about the recent renovations of Echo Park Lake. This is a slightly strenuous tour with three Echo Park staircases. Building interiors are not included.    The tour is free to EPHS members and $

For the starting location, please RSVP via email to Please include the number of people in your reservation. Thanks!

Join us for an Echo Park stairways walking tour this Saturday

Can't join us on Saturday? Take a virtual walk up the Baxter Steps

Can’t join us on Saturday? Take a virtual walk up the Baxter Steps

The Echo Park Stairways tour on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. includes the Baxter Stairs (possibly the city’s longest) as well as Fellowship Park, Red Hill and the modernist Harwell Harris house. This is a modestly strenuous tour that includes one long stairway and several steep hills. Building interiors are not included.
For location please RSVP to

How many stairways are there in Echo Park? Why did they get built?  Here are some answers.

See you at the lake on Saturday night for “Double Indemnity”


The Echo Park Historical Society is one of the sponsors of this year’s Echo Park Film Series, which will screen  movies outdoors at Echo Park Lake.  The film classic “Double Indemnity,” which features some vintage L.A. scenery, will screen this Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7 pm. The movie, which is free,  will be screened in the northwest corner of the lake near Glendale Boulevard and Park Avenue.

See you at the lake Saturday night for the Echo Park Film Series


The Echo Park Historical Society is one of the sponsors of this summer’s Echo Park Film Series, which will screen neighborhood-related movies outdoors at Echo Park Lake. The first of four movies will be shown on Saturday, Aug. 1 at 8 pm with the screening of Quinceañera, the 2006 indie movie about growing up and gentrification in Echo Park.  The movie, which is free,  will be screened in the northwest corner of the lake near Glendale Boulevard and Park Avenue.

See you at the Echo Park Lotus Festival


The 35th Annual Echo Park Lotus Festival will be held this weekend, July 11 & 12, and the Echo Park Historical Society will be part of the fun.

The celebration of Asian culture will bring live music and dance performances as well as food vendors and dragon boat races to Echo Park Lake. Please stop by the EPHS booth in the northwest corner of the park near the lake’s blooming lotus bed. We will be displaying historic photos and passing out guides and newsletters about neighborhood history.

Also, the EPHS members Dave Ptach and Rory Mitchell will be leading walking tours during the festival:

  • Echo Park Lake Tour: 2 pm on Saturday & Sunday
  • Washington Heights Tour: 4 pm on Saturday & 1 pm on Sunday

The festival begins at 12 pm on both days.

The lake’s lotus bed, which replanted two years ago after dying off for unknown reasons, has been a living neighborhood landmark for decades. Click here to find out more about the lotus.

We love bungalows

Mohawk house IMG_0550

What do we love about Echo Park? Here’s an easy one: bungalows!

Whatever the style — Arts and Crafts, Spanish Colonial, Tudor, Colonial Revival — bungalows can be found up and down Echo Park’s hills and canyons. The modest and dignified bungalow reminds us of our neighborhood’s past.

Over the past two decades, the EPHS has pursued different strategies to preserve and promote our neighborhood’s historic, (mostly) one-story bungalows. We’ve printed brochures to discourage homeowners from spraying stucco over the wood exteriors, which protects the clapboard or shingles. We hosted workshops on how to remove stucco from the exterior. We even helped a few property owners remove the stucco themselves — thanks to EPHS volunteers!

The EPHS also has offered free workshops on how to (cheaply) fix sash wood windows, which rely on weights and pulleys to move up and down. We even showed people what’s inside our neighborhood’s bungalows, hosting six home tours built around different themes: hillsides, public staircases and Echo Park Lake, to name a few.

Echo Park’s major period of growth took place during the first 40 years of the 20th century. According to Over the Rainbow, Merry Ovnick’s book on Los Angeles residential architecture, the style for such homes changed every few years during this period, falling in and out of fashion. For example, Spanish Revival style, with its plaster exterior and red tile roofs, came into vogue at the turn of the century, went away and then came back again.

Valentine Spanish IMG_0552Arts and Crafts was the rage during World War I, turning up on streets like Echo Park Avenue, Mohawk Street, Morton Avenue, Douglas Street and Cerro Gordo Avenue, among others. By 1920, however, that style was effectively over. After the soldiers returned, builders soon became intrigued by more traditional look — and Greek columns — of the Colonial Revival style.

In the 1920s, Ovnick says, Hollywood set builders helped to drive an interest in storybook cottages in the style of Tudor and Mediterranean Revival. Those more European styles can be found on streets like Princeton, Sargent, Valentine, Lucretia, Avon, Park and Sargent.

Eventually, lots on hilly streets slowly filled in, allowing for a variety of styles to take hold on the same block. Builders in the 1950s filled out the last of the empty lots, with homes that were mostly spare and functional. The era of the bungalow was in the past.

So as you walk, bicycle or drive through the neighobrhood, take a moment to appreciate the stately bungalow in all its forms. With our hotter than hot real estate market, they are more precious than ever.

— The EPHS

Cerro Gordo Tudor

Researching My Home

by Matthew Dubois

1450 Scott Ave. in 1915

1450 Scott Ave. in 1915

Finding your home’s past takes a lot of work and patience. Like a detective, you have follow up leads and have to let ideas germinate.

After buying the home, I listened to what the sellers and their real estate agent told me: the house had been moved in 1913 and built in downtown Los Angeles in 1886.  But they had no proof

The Paper Chase


The permit of a 1905 house move.

I started at the City of Los Angeles Building & Safety Department  but only got a few permits back to 1932, most of them listed under the name Chatard.

Then, I headed to the History section of the Los Angeles Central Library  and looked up the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. The maps took me back more than a decade and proved the house had been in its location since around World War I . But the house was no where to be found in a 1912 map.

I then looked through the City Directories,  which contain resident names, addresses and other information,  in the Los Angeles Central Library’s History section. According to the directories, the Chatards had lived at 1450 Scott Ave. since 1913.

Hot on the Trail

A neighbor told me about a former Echo Park real estate agent, Steve Scott, who connected me with Millie Shaw, who owned my home in the 1980s.  She described what the house looked like and the changes that she and her husband made.

Millie also sent me a picture of the house from 1980. She knew of the Chatards and providing me some interesting stories about the house and its setting, like tales of  money being found behind wainscoting and of jewels being buried nearby.

I also searched the Chatard name on the Internet and, along with other information I had gathered, was able to put together a small family tree.  A search in  for a Chatard in the Los Angeles area found one and a phone number in Glendale.


1912 Echo Park Sanborn Fire Insurance map

I gave them a call. Joyce Chatard answered the phone. Yes, she knew of  1450 Scott Avenue. It was the home of her grandmother, Julia Chatard. Julia lived in the house from 1913 until she died in 1958. Joyce sent me pictures of the house, one from 1915!

This was great information. But I still needed to find evidence proving that the house was moved to it current location from downtown

House on the Move

Back at the Los Angeles Central Library,  I searched for construction industry periodicals from 1913 and found  Los Angeles Builder & Contractor in the Science and Technology Department  This magazine had a summary of building moves. One building move dated October, 9 1913  showed a house was moved from 1112 Towne Avenue in downtown Los Angeles to 1450 Scot Avenue.  The name Julia Chatard was included in the notice.

This bit of information helped proved that my housed had been moved to its current location from Towne Avenue.  A check with the Sanborn maps showed a building footprint on Towne Avenue exactly like the current one on Scott Avenue.

Back at the Building & Safety department, I discovered that my house had actually been moved twice! I found  a permit dated July, 7 1905 of a house being moved from 718 E. 5th Street  to 1112 Towne Avenue. In the property records of the Los Angeles County Assessor,   the first person listed living in the house when it was on 5th Street was an Esther Dye, a magnetic healer in 1900.

After taking another look in the City Directories, I was able to determine that the house had been in existence since the early 1890s, serving as a residence for Esther Clark on 5th Street.

Then, after being moved to Towne Street, it briefly served a restaurant operated by a John Karrle and then served as a residence for the Osgood family. It was converted into a duplex before being moved to Scott Avenue. The house stayed a duplex  until 1978, when it reverted to a single family dwelling.


Julia Chatard with her grandson, David, on the porch of her house after it was moved to Scott Ave.

The most rewarding part of doing this research is that I am living in a piece of history. It is not just a building but a living reminder of the all the people who came before me and will come after me; this I call home.

House Timeline

c.1890: Original structure built at 718 East 5th Street, downtown Los Angeles.
1905: House relocated to 1112 Towne Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.
1913. House relocated again to 1450 Scott Avenue., Echo Park

Lady of the Lake: Echo Park’s beloved statue

the EPHS marking its 20th anniversary this year, we’re using our blog to
celebrate some of our neighborhood’s finest landmarks. One of the most
beloved is the Lady of the Lake, the statue produced in the depths of
the Great Depression by Los Angeles sculptor Ada May Sharpless.

The Art Deco statue, with its gently curving features and Egyptian styling, stands on one of the choicest spots at Echo Park Lake: surrounded by rose bushes, and with a backdrop of the lake and the downtown skyline.  The Lady of the Lake — originally known as Queen of the Angels — also stands on a base that pays loving tribute to L.A.’s landmarks and locales.

Take a closer look: One side has a relief of Los Angles City Hall, which would have opened not too many years before the statue was completed. A second side depicts shows the city at work: agriculture, factories, a railroad line, oil derricks and ships in the L.A. harbor. A third depicts natural spaces: the ocean, hills and
mountains. The fourth shows off the Hollywood Bowl, the San Gabriel Mission, the Central Library and
glorious sunshine.

The Lady of the Lake has traveled a bit over the years. When the
EPHS was formed in 1995, the statue was sitting in a city storage yard,
damaged and hidden from public view. Four years later, then-City
Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, some persistent neighborhood activists and
the EPHS successfully pushed for the statue to be restored and
relocated to a spot near the boathouse.

the lake’s $45 million renovation was completed in 2013, the Lady of
the Lake moved again, to a peninsula not far from the lotus bed. That’s where she first appeared in 1935, the
year the Municipal Arts Commission agreed to place the Art Deco statue
at Echo Park.

Sharpless, born in Hawaii and raised in Orange County, created the Queen of the Angels at a studio at 2970 London Street * in Silver Lake, according to a report in the June 1,1934 issue of the Los Angeles Times. The work was one of many commissioned as part of the federal Public Works of Art Project, part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which put people back to work during the Depression.

The statue was completed in May 1934 and displayed months later along with the works of nine other artists by the Ebell Art Club. Although it was the centerpiece of the show, it failed to win over one prominent critic: Times art writer Arthur Millier.

Five years earlier, Millier had lavished praise on Sharpless, saying she had submitted the “star piece” of California Art Club’s annual exhibition. But after visiting the Ebell Club’s art salon, he informed readers that Sharpless’ piece lacked much needed subtlety. “It is not her happiest work,” he sniffed. . Perhaps he didn’t like the statue’s deferential posture?

Sharpless, a USC graduate who studied in Paris during the 1920s, soon defended her
work in a letter to Millier, who agreed only to publish tiny excerpts in
the Jan. 27, 1935 edition of his “Brush Strokes” column. In one passage, she accused
Millier of engaging in “superficial and destructive criticism.” She also declared that
the Queen of the Angels was “one of the best pieces of work I have done
so far.”

Despite those rough early days, the Lady of
the Lake went on to captivate visitors to Echo Park lake for decades. On her perch, she is an attraction for park goers looking to rest, relax and maybe capture a few
photographs. Although the neighborhood has gone through many changes over the past 80 years,
the Queen of the Angels stands tall, surveying the park and its many visitors.

To learn more about the Lady of the Lake:

* An LA Times story from 1933 said Sharpless lived at 1142 1/2 Seward St.