Country Club Park

"So many people are unaware this neighborhood exists,” said Country Club Park resident Katherine Miller in a Los Angeles Times’ article about the neighborhood in 1985. A little over a quarter of a century later, this still seems to be true.

Country Club Park began as the Los Angeles Golf Club in 1899. In response to its popularity with the wealthy of Los Angeles, the Club was moved to the corner of Pico and Western, stables were constructed, grounds were improved “with new ‘comforts and conveniences.” and the Club became one of the largest west of Chicago, patronized by Los Angeles’s most prestigious citizens.

After the turn of the century, a syndicate known as the Country Club Park Corporation and headed by such wealthy notables as developer, Issac Milbank, bought the area and subdivided it for residential development. The Club itself subsequently moved to an area near Beverly Hills in 1910 and the neighborhood left behind has been known as Country Club Park ever since.

Boarded by Pico Boulevard to the south, Olympic Boulevard to the north, Western Avenue to the east and Crenshaw Boulevard to the west, the neighborhood is primarily made up of gracious, stately single-family residences, multi-family residences and institutional (religious) buildings. The homes, some of which were constructed as early as 1902, are Craftsman, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Colonial Revival and Mediterranean Revival in style.

JuneCC3One of the neighborhoods most famous residences used to be Country Club Park developer Issac Milbank’s mansion constructed in 1913 by noted architect G. Lawrence Stimson. It is located at 3340 Country Club Dr. in an area of Country Club Park that is considered the “the jewel” of the neighborhood. Readers may recognize the house from such movies as Ali, Running with Scissors and Daddy Daycare.

JuneCC4Readers may also recognize another famous Country Club Park home, the Alfred F. Rosenheim mansion, which was featured in the recent cable TV series American Horror Story. The house was designed by L.A. architect Alfred F. Rosenheim in 1910 and declared a Historic and Cultural Landmark by the city of Los Angeles in 1999. A three-story mansion, it has such elaborate features as six bedrooms, Tiffany stained-glass windows, a gold leaf dining room ceiling and rich mahogany floors.

Not only is Country Club Park filled with stunning examples of some of L.A.’s best early 20th century architecture, but it is also currently home to a racially and culturally diverse population.  This was not always the case, however. Like many neighborhoods in the early history of Los Angeles, Country Club Park had strict racial covenants and was strictly reserved for whites. Dr. H. Claude Hudson, a lawyer, dentist and NAACP board member, was the Neighborhood's first black homeowner, according to a 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times. "He moved to the neighborhood in 1945 after fighting a racially restrictive covenant," reports the 2007 Times article. Homeowners actually sued African Americans who tried to move into the wealthy neighborhood. Oscar Award-winning actress Hattie McDaniel, of Gone with the Wind fame, for example, was sued when she tried to move into the neighborhood in 1945. McDaniel successfully defeated the lawsuit, however, and gained the right to live in the exclusive area.

In general, other ethnic groups met with less resistance than African Americans when they tried to move into Country Club Park. In 1948, the Supreme Court put an end to racial covenants and Country Club Park subsequently became more diverse and home to more ethnic groups. It also became home to more wealthy ethnic celebrities, such as the recently deceased Lena Horne, Korean-American actor Philip Ahn and gospel great Mahalia Jackson.

Country Club Park was designated a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) in 2010. So the next time you find yourself driving down, Pico, Olympic, Western or Crenshaw on your way to or from Mid-City, drive through Country Club Park and become aware of this unique part of Mid-City Los Angeles’ history.
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist 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.

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