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L.A. as it looked a century ago

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Touted for its authentic Craftsman bungalows and old-fashioned community spirit, Jefferson Park, in central Los Angeles, is becoming a mecca for families seeking a slice of early 20th century L.A. The district, bordered by Crenshaw Boulevard, Western Avenue and Adams and Exposition boulevards, was developed from 1905 to 1920.

Drawing cardArchitecturally significant homes, most priced at less than $300,000, bring preservation-minded buyers to Jefferson Park. The ethnically diverse area of 50-year residents and newcomers is close to downtown Los Angeles, USC and the Exposition Park museums. The 50-square-block area offers urban-style cultural amenities in a suburban setting of single-family homes with yards, block parties and historic home tours.

Wow factor The area's 2,500 or so one-story bungalows boast such Arts and Crafts features as steep gables, double columns and expanded front porches, and they are very much as they were a century ago. Interiors include original built-in china cabinets and window seats, bookcases with leaded glass, wainscoting and decorative moldings. A century ago, some owners created their custom homes by choosing architectural features from a catalog provided by the Bungalowcraft Co.

Insider's viewResidents are on a first-name basis and often greet one another on the street with a friendly "How's your bathroom renovation going?" or "What's the best paint stripper?" Home renovation is a popular pastime, as are block clubs and ice cream socials. Many of the residents are politically active and have organized to preserve the architectural integrity of the area's homes and improve the neighborhood.

Good news, bad news While initial steps have been taken to designate the neighborhood as a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, residents complain about the poor condition of the nearby business corridors of Jefferson Boulevard and Western Avenue. "We have no mom-and-pop coffee places, no boutiques and no good supermarket," said Adam Janeiro, a Jefferson Park booster. "The boulevards detract from the charm of this great residential area."

Report cardJefferson Park is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Elementary schools include 6th Avenue, 24th Street and Bright. Foshay Learning Center, a California Distinguished School, houses students from kindergarten through 12th grade; Mt. Vernon is the middle school. Dorsey and Manual Arts are the two high schools. Additional schools in the area are Mid-City Magnet, a 350-student entrepreneur/business magnet, kindergarten through eighth grade; Thomas Bradley Environmental Science/Humanities Charter Magnet, kindergarten through fifth grade; and Widney High School, grades seven through 12, a special education school. According to the state's 2002 Academic Performance Index, Bright Elementary had the strongest showing among the elementary schools, with a score of 691 out of a possible 1,000. Mt. Vernon scored 467, Dorsey 460 and Manual Arts 480.

Stock reportIn an area of primarily single-family homes, seven houses were listed for sale in early August. The prices range from $229,000 for a three-bedroom home in 1,483 square feet to $315,000 for a three-bedroom home in 1,260 square feet.

Historical valuesSingle-family detached resales:

Year...Median Price1990...$130,000

1995...$125,000

2000...$140,000

2002...$186,500

2003*...$230,000

*year to date


Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; David Repoza, broker at City Living Realty; American Bungalow magazine; Los Angeles Unified School District.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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