In their third annual search for the best places to buy an old house, "This Old House" magazine editors selected one neighborhood from every state "populated by people who share an appreciation of finely
crafted homes that have plenty of past and lots of future."
In California, the West Adams area of Los Angeles made the cut. One of L.A.’s oldest neighborhoods, West Adams borders Figueroa Street on the east, West Boulevard on the west, Pico Boulevard on the north and Jefferson Boulevard on the south. It was developed mostly from the 1880s to the 1920s as ahaven for entrepreneurial elites and oil barons and later attracted Hollywood stars and musical legends.
"It’s a hidden gem," said resident and interior designer John Patterson, a board member with the West Adams Heritage Assn.
"West Adams is like another world and full of turn-of-century homes that have been lovingly restored,"
said Patterson, who purchased a home in 2004 and renovated the property.
The West Adams District has seven historic preservation overlay zones (HPOZs): University Park,
Adams-Normandie, Harvard Heights, Pico Union, Western Heights, West Adams Terrace and
Lafayette Square. The area has one historic preservation specific plan (North University Park).
Jefferson Park and Country Club Park reportedly also are pending HPOZ designations that are stalled
because of the city budget crisis.
HPOZs are designated as uniquely historic communities and buying in one is a smart investment, according to Keith Pandolfi, associate editor of "This Old House."
"The fact that the neighborhood is in a historic overlay zone helps protect the facades of these houses. That means property values will probably keep rising," Pandolfi said.
Pandolfi says the area is the kind of place where you can find a solid old house that looks and feels like an authentic old-fashioned American neighborhood and features some of the most whimsical takes on Craftsman architecture he’s ever seen.
"I think that when outsiders think of L.A. houses, the first thing that pops into their heads is some meandering modern mansion somewhere in the Hollywood Hills. That’s why we wanted to call attention to West Adams," Pandolfi noted.
"Housing values here were climbing fast before the recession hit, but you can still find a relatively
affordable house there. We like the fact that so many residents are moving there to restore older
homes too," he added.
Before you buy a historic home, preservation experts say consider the emotional and financial costs of
ongoing maintenance projects. Recognize that the property must have an historic designation in order
to obtain the few financial preservation incentives available in L.A. Know that the historic designation
alone will not suffice for the city of L.A.'s Mills Act historical property tax deduction program. And
realize you are buying a neighborhood, not just a house.
Because many of the best historic homes never officially hit the market, David Raposa, broker-owner
of L.A.-based City Living Realty, who has specialized in historic neighborhoods for 26 years, says do
your homework. "Some houses may be quietly available for sale. So get to know the insiders, whether
it’s a local real estate agent or the neighborhood preservationists and community advocates," he said.
Always wanted your own painted lady? Here’s a quick look at what’s on the market in the area.
1617 S. Norton Ave., L.A.
Listed at a reduced price of $429,000 on Redfin.com, this three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bathroom singlefamily
West Adams bungalow in Arlington Heights originally listed for $455,000 and was built in
1915. It has about 1,896 square feet, features a hot tub in the master bedroom and includes approved
plans from the city to build a duplex.
928 20th St., L.A.
Listed at $779,000 on Trulia.com, this four-bedroom, three-bathroom Craftsman home in the
University Park area was built in 1910 and has 2,772 square feet and a large yard with fruit trees.
Listing agent Anna Solomon of Prudential California Realty in Brentwood says the home reminds her
of a Queen Anne Victorian. "The woods in the house are spectacular, and everything is built in. It is
just beautiful," she said. "It’s a great house with huge rooms and an oversized garage."
2175 Cambridge St., L.A.
Set to go on the market in a few weeks at $775,000, this quintessential Arts and Crafts-style home is
reported to be the only home remaining in L.A. city proper designed by brothers Charles and Henry
Greene, the architects responsible for Pasadena’s famed Gamble House, according to listing agent
David Raposa, broker-owner of L.A.-based City Living Realty. Located in the Harvard Heights HPOZ,
the home was built in 1905 with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in about 2,600 square feet and
features a sun room, a den and partial restoration.
2251 Cambridge St., L.A.
Listed at $485,000 on Trulia, this spacious four-bedroom, one-bathroom Craftsman home in the
Harvard Heights HPOZ was built in 1912 and has 2,420 square feet.
2903 S. Victoria Ave., L.A.
Although not in a historic zone, this single-family West Adams Craftsman is listed at $570,000 on
Redfin.com and has three-bedrooms and 1 1/2-bathrooms in 1,530 square feet. The 1927 home has a
detached garage and a breakfast nook.