LOS ANGELES – L.A. has numerous architectural gems, especially when it comes to homes. College student Mari Kimura Goldberg wanted to get to know her city better so she found maps created by Friends of Residential Treasures and decided to take a self-guided tour.
“With COVID and everything, there’s not that much going on and so I was able to find FORT LA just to explore residential neighborhoods and historic homes in Los Angeles and kind of just get a better understanding of my hometown and the history behind it,” said Kimura Goldberg.
They’re taking the Postwar Japanese American architects trail and Rory Macleod’s favorite so far is the Shonien home in Silver Lake, nestled between rows of residential homes. Designed by Kazumi Adachi in 1955, it currently belongs to the Boys Republic, a treatment community for troubled teens.
“Well, I’ve always thought of L.A. as a city of strip malls and parking lots. I never really thought of it as an architectural city,” said Macleod.
This trail map was created by Sian Winship, who developed the curriculum as a passion project to promote civic identity through historically significant homes of Los Angeles. The Takahashi Residence is one of her favorites.
“It’s a rather understated form of modernism as you may notice and there’s a reason for this,” explained Sian Winship, President of the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and Fellow of the Friends of Residential Treasures. “It’s one of the things we’ve learned in developing this trail map is that after returning from incarceration it was maybe not to stand out and so these houses reflect the social injustice and the story of resilience the Japanese Americans endured.”
An art history major, Kimura Goldberg believes the information these guides provide to be invaluable at her art gallery assistant summer job. All the homes are privately owned so visitors can only view them from outside on public right of ways such as sidewalks. However, pictures of interiors as well as histories are accessible on downloadable guides available from the website.
“I never knew that these houses could just be right around the corner from me,” said Goldberg. “And you know with everything going on, I think this is the perfect opportunity to just get a couple steps in, to get outside, drive around and learn more about the history of Los Angeles which mid-century modern architecture is such an integral part of that.”