Lafayette Square was already home to many notable residents when James Nelson Pattilo, a building contractor erected an Italian/Spanish Renaissance Revival residence on Virginia Road in the early 1920's. Corinthian columns flank its front door, which also features an elaborately-carved surround. This home attracted musicians in 1933; organist C.E. McAfee lived here. And, in 1959, during a period of time when he had turned to Christianity and gospel music, famed singer Little Richard purchased the Portillo residence.
Richard Wayne "Little Richard" Penniman (b.1932) was a flamboyant musician whose hit songs of the mid-1950's were defining moments in the development of rock and roll. This singer-songwiter-recording artist is considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950's. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and contributed significantly to the development of soul music.
LENA HORNE 1200 S. ARLINGTON North of Pico
Lena Horne's signature song from a 1943 film of the same name is "Stormy Weather". Some would say she weathered many storms in her life.
At age 16 Horne began working at Harlem's Cotton Club, first as a dancer, then in the chorus and later as a solo singer. She began singing with orchestras, and, while singing with Charlie Barnett's (white) ochestra, she was discovered. From there she began playing clubs in Greenwhich Village and then performed at Carnegie Hall.
Horne left New York to perform at the Trocadero Club in California. Within a short time, she signed a Hollywood movie contract with MGM. Her contract stipulated that she would not be cast in stereotypical black roles, and with her elegance and glamour, she became know for transforming the image of the black woman in film.
HATTIE McDANIEL 2177 WEST 31st ST.
Oscar-winning Hattie McDaniel was born in 1895 in Whichita, Kansas, the daughter of a Baptist minister and a spiritual singer. She worked as a singer with Professor George Morrison's Orchestra in 1915, touring the country. She became the first African American to sing on network radio in the United States. In 1931, she went to Hollywood to seek a film career and began as an extra before capturing larger roles. In 1932, "Hi-hat Hattie" (her nickname) made her movie debut in The Golden West. She then appeared in a number of movies, including Saratoga, where she sang with Clark Gable. Then she read Margaret Mitchell's novel and was fascinated by the role of Mammy. "I naturally felt I could create in it something distinctive and unique" McDaniel later recalled.
Excerpted from "West Adams' Landmarks of African American History" a publication of West Adams Heritage Association. Reprinted with Permission.
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.