• Hale House
  • Valley Knudsen House
  • Ford House
  • Carriage Barn
  • Palms Depot
  • Lincoln Ave Church
  • Perry Mansion
  • Octagon House
  • Colonial Drug

An Introduction to Our Historic Buildings

The late 19th century marked a time of tremendous change for the United States, and for California. It was the height of the Industrial Revolution and in 1875 the Los Angeles railroad system was connected to the transcontinental railroad from the North. The successive introduction of horse car, cable railway, and finally the new electric streetcar encouraged an "urban sprawl." The country was quickly transforming into a modern nation equipped with efficient transportation, communications and distribution of mass produced goods. All this culminated into the "land boom" of the 1880's. During this period the city's population doubled. Houses built during the Southern California Land Boom reflected these changing, eventful times, resulting in a proliferation of new and elaborately eclectic architecture throughout Los Angeles. In 1969, nearly a hundred years later, when many of these historic buildings were facing demolition, prominent citizens, working with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board, established Heritage Square Museum as a sanctuary to preserve, restore and interpret the following buildings and Southern California's rich history. Enjoy the tour!
Hale House
James and Bessie Hale House
The Hale House was built in 1887 by George W. Morgan, a land speculator and real estate developer, at the foot of Mount Washington just a few blocks from the museum in Highland Park. From the time of its construction, the house was sold many times and was moved from 4501 to 4425 North Pasadena Avenue (now Figueroa Street) before being purchased by James G. Hale in 1906.
James Hale, a motorman for the railroad, met Beret ‘Bessie’ Hovelsrud when she worked as a waitress in the Pio Pico House downtown. Dealing in real estate, Bessie mortgaged the Hale House several times in order to purchase other properties. Bessie and James Hale separated a few years after purchasing the house. However, Bessie retained title to the house, living in and using it as a boarding home until the mid 1960s. James Hale died on August 15, 1921 at about age 51. Bessie Hale died in a rest home in 1967 and left the house to her niece, Mrs. Odeana Johnson, who donated the structure to the Cultural Heritage Foundation of Southern California in 1970.
Hale House Hale House
The building is an outstanding example of Queen Anne and Eastlake styles. The exterior colors of Hale House were reproduced from chips of the original colors found on the house during restoration. The interior has been restored to represent the rooms as they may have appeared in 1899. In the front parlor visitors may see an oriental door bracket purchased by the Hales. Lighting fixtures throughout the house are equipped to use both gas and electricity. The wainscoting downstairs, called Lincrusta, is original to the house and made of a pressed paper mixture processed to look like embossed leather. The Eastlake-style dining table and chairs belonged to the Hale family. The modern looking ceiling paper in the dining room is, in fact, a reproduction of the original paper.
Shaw House
Valley Knudsen Garden Residence
Architecturally, the Valley Knudsen Garden Residence is a very interesting building. Most middle class homes of the Victorian period were done in varying combinations of the Eastlake or Queen Anne styles. The choice of this Second Empire with a French Mansard styled roof for this working-middle class home was rather unusual for the West coast.
This roof style was used mostly in France during the city-wide redevelopment of Paris in the early nineteenth century. Napoleon III had mandated broad, tree-lined boulevards in the new city plan. He wanted level, uninterrupted uniform rooflines bordering the wide boulevards. Napoleon's city planner, Baron Haussman opted for consistent use of the Mansard roof with standard cornice levels, thus providing the grand vistas Napoleon III wanted. Americans adopted the style during the mid to late 19th century because of its majestic appearance.
Shaw House Shaw House
The home originally stood on Mozart Street in the neighborhood of Lincoln Heights, one of the first suburbs of the City of Los Angeles. Originally a Southern Pacific railroad town, Lincoln Heights is know for having one of the city's largest parks, Lincoln (Eastlake) Park. At the turn of the century, Lincoln Heights was a destination for families to visit, having both an ostrich and an alligator farm, the Selig Film Studios and later on, the Selig Zoo. The Selig Film Studios was one of the first motion picture studios to be established in Los Angeles, and was originally located just north of Lincoln Park on Mission Avenue.
Ford House
John Ford House
The Ford House was built in 1887 as part of a large tract of simple middle-class homes in downtown Los Angeles built by the Beaudry Brothers. It would be unremarkable today if not for its original owner, John J. Ford, a very prolific and well-known wood carver. Ford's works include carvings for the California State Capital, the Iolani Palace in Hawaii, and Leland Stanford's private railroad car.
John Ford purchased the home as it was being completed. At the height of the Industrial Revolution when all decorative elements for house exteriors were being mass produced, Ford used his skills as a woodcarver to adorn his home. The exterior and interior carvings were all done by hand in ornate, one-of-a-kind patterns. The house, a combination of Italianate and Queen Anne styles, was located on Beaudry Street, between First and Temple Streets in downtown Los Angeles.
Ford House Ford House
Over the years, the interior was altered several times, including its use as a four apartment complex. However, the Ford House will be restored to its original condition.
Carriage Barn
Dr. Osborne's Carriage Barn
The barn was built in 1899 on the grounds of what is now Pasadena's Huntington Memorial Hospital for Dr. Osborne, a member of the hospital's staff. Originally used to stable horses and store a carriage, the building was subsequently converted into a dwelling and garage. Its architectural style is Queen Anne Cottage with Gothic influences. It has three gables and a distinctive pitched roof.

Moved to the Heritage Square Museum in 1981, the barn now houses the museum's restoration and maintenance. In time, it will be returned to it working condition as a carriage barn.
Palms Depot
Palms Depot
Overland travel by wagon, stagecoach or horse to the West, and Southern California in particular, was expensive and slow and trails were poorly maintained and badly mapped. With the arrival of the Southern Pacific in 1876, Southern California was transformed virtually overnight. The train offered a more efficient solution for hauling mail, freight and passengers. Farmers from the east and mid west were the first group courted by the railroad to settle the region. The railroad profited by transporting agricultural commodities across the country. Furthermore, Los Angeles was a paradise compared to cities in the east that seemed to be choking on factories and overcrowding. The railroad companies, the largest landowners in California and eager to sell more of it, was responsible in many ways for manufacturing an idealized version of the area’s assets and potential, what today we call the “California Dream”.
The cluster of low hills that laid about midway between Los Angeles and Santa Monica at first prevented the construction of a railroad line between the two cities. However by 1887, a new train depot stood overlooking a newly laid out grid of streets from the new subdivision called the Palms. This town was the only sign of urbanization between Los Angeles and the sea. A few years later the Palms Depot became part of the Southern Pacific rail system, and then in 1908 became electrified. The Palms Depot provided passenger and freight service until 1933 when the agency was transferred to Culver Junction, a mile to the east. "The Big Red (trolley) Cars" continued to stop at Palms until the line was discontinued in 1953. The station also served as a backdrop for many films, including shorts by Laurel and Hardy and The Little Rascals, and served for a time as a Boy Scout clubhouse. The Palms Depot was declared a historical monument in 1963; nevertheless, it fell into disrepair and was finally condemned. In 1975, S.O.S. (Save Our Station), a grass roots organization, succeeded in moving the depot to the museum, thus saving it from demolition.
Palms Depot Palms Depot
The exterior and interior have been restored to their original Eastlake style. Today the depot serves as the Museum's Visitor Center and Store. Tours begin on the station platform.
Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church
Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church
The cornerstone of the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church was laid September 21, 1897. The church opened for services on April 17 the following year. Designed in the Carpenter Gothic and Queen Anne styles, the floor plan follows the Methodist tradition of non-axial plans. This plan, with the entrance in one corner and the pulpit in the opposite, is known as the Akron style, having originated in Akron, Ohio.
In 1898, the church was surrounded by orange groves and soon became the focal point of a new community. In the late 1960's the congregation had grown exponentially. After merging with another Methodist congregation, the church became the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Social Service Center, a community center for church functions and classes. In 1979 the church, in disrepair, was purchased by the United States Postal Service.
Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church
In 1981, with no alternative but demolition, the church was cut into six pieces and moved to the museum from its original site on the southeast corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue in Pasadena. The beautifully ornate stained glass windows and the pews were unfortunately stolen before the church came to Heritage Square Museum. Current efforts to replicate the original window design are underway. More pictures of the original windows are needed to complete the project. Individuals who have images (color or black and white) of the windows are asked to mail copies to the museum offices.
Perry House
William Hayes Perry Residence
The largest house at the museum, The Perry Residence was built in 1876 by prominent businessman and lumber baron William Hayes Perry. The house was designed by renowned architect E. F. Kysor and is an example of classic Greek Revival Italianate as shown in the outward sweep of the entrance stairway, the brackets under the eaves, the slanted bay windows and the narrow columns. Opulent touches such as the house’s fine hardwood floors and marble fireplace mantles were meant to reflect the social prominence of its owners. When it was built in the then-fashionable neighborhood of Boyle Heights, it was arguably the finest and most expensive residence yet seen in Los Angeles.
Born in Newark, Ohio in 1832, William Hayes Perry moved to California in 1853. He began his lumber and supply business in 1861, and soon became one of the largest lumber dealers in Los Angeles. A few years later, Perry was one of the organizers of the Los Angeles Gas Company, the first company to install gaslights in downtown Los Angeles. Perry would also later serve as president of the Los Angeles Water Company for 25 years, as well as on many boards of directors including the Farmers and Merchants Bank, and was a Los Angeles City Councilman.

The house was bought in 1888 by Judge Stephen C. Hubbell. A president of the National Bank of California, he was an organizer and president of the Spring and Sixth Street Railway Co. (which operated the first light rail system in Los Angeles), and was a founder and the first treasurer of University of Southern California. Judge Hubbell is also known for his donation of Westlake (now McArthur) Park in Los Angeles.
Perry House Perry House
By 1975, the the Perry House had been badly neglected, vandalized, stuccoed over and was threatened with being demolished when the Colonial Dames Society of America moved it from 1315 Mount Pleasant Street to the museum for restoration. In 1995, with restoration still underway, the Colonial Dames donated the house and its furnishings to Heritage Square Museum. Since then, the museum has continued to restore this important structure. The William Hayes Perry Residence is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is the City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 98.
Octagon House
Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House
In 1848, Orson S. Fowler, a Yankee individualist and progressive social thinker, published a book entitled The Octagon House: A Home For All. In it, he argued the advantages of an eight-sided house over the standard four-sided variety. Windows on all sides offer more light and better air circulation which, in turn, lowers heating and cooling expenses. An octagon also cost less to construct, requiring shorter spans of lumber than conventional buildings. Fowler's architectural ideas were popular in the East, where most octagonal structures and homes were built. However, the popularity of this architectural style almost completely died out by the time of the Civil War.
For the original owner of the museum's octagon, Gilbert Longfellow, this was not his first eight-sided home. Gilbert Longfellow built his first octagonal house along the coast of Maine. Then in 1893, after moving to Pasadena, Longfellow built his second octagonal home on San Pasqual Street. After Longfellow died in 1912, his son Charles continued the family's farming business, purchasing additional land nearby (now part of the California Institute of Technology campus) where he established a small, but successful, citrus grove. In 1917, to make way for subdivision of the original farm, the house was moved to a city lot about a mile north of the farm on Allen Avenue.
Octagon House Octagon House
While remaining in the same family, over the years the house fell into great disrepair. In 1973, facing demolition of the house where he had spent much of his life, Walter Hastings (Longfellow's grandson) sought assistance from the museum to save his family's home. In exchange, he donated the house to the museum. The home was moved to its present location in 1986.
During their popularity, more than 1,000 of these unique structures were built in the United States. Only twenty are known to have been built in California. The Hastings-Longfellow Octagon House is one of less than 500 octagon structures left in the United States and is one of the remaining, unaltered examples of this style in Southern California.
Octagon House
Colonial Drugstore
Colonial Drug
Corner drugstores have historically been a fixture of both urban and rural communities. Before the large chain drugstores of today they provided for the community's health and served as an important community meeting place with their soda fountains. Colonial Drug is a recreation of the original business that George A. Simmons owned and operated in Highland Park after World War I. Formerly located just a mile away from Heritage Square at the corner of Avenue 57 and Figueroa (then Pasadena Ave.), Colonial Drug served the local community for six decades. In memory of George A. Simmons, the Simmons family generously donated the original fixtures, vintage soda fountain, and his unique collection of drugstore products to help Heritage Square recreate Colonial Drug from the ground up.
On view along with the fixtures and the soda fountain from the original business, the Colonial Drug exhibit includes George A. Simmons' impressive archival collection of drugstore products that he acquired over a period of more than sixty years. This collection of over 80,000 items includes pharmaceuticals, botanical, and cosmetics, most still in their original packaging. 95% of the items date between 1888 and 1950, and 90% are no longer being made or used, making this collection the first of its kind in Southern California. Because of the Simmon's family's generosity, Heritage Square is able to house and preserve this important archive of pharmaceutical history for historians and future generations alike.
Colonial Drugstore
The George A. Simmons archive is full of interesting products with creative and misleading product labeling from a bygone era. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Pure Food and Drug Act into law. Principally a "truth in labeling" law designed to raise standards in the food and drug industries and protect honest businessmen, it federally defined "misbranding" and "adulteration" for the first time and penalized companies that misrepresented their products. Under the law, drug labels were required to list 10 ingredients that were deemed "dangerous" on the product label if present, including alcohol, morphine and opium, and cannabis. Deficiencies in the original law led to President Franklin Roosevelt enacting the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938 with many amendments that continues to be the statutory basis for the United State's federal regulations today with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulating all foods, drugs, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, tobacco and radiation emitting devices.