13 Homes to Be on Annual West Adams Tour

Times Staff Writer

The West Adams Heritage Assn. will feature 13 architecturally distinct vintage homes, including the Busby Berkeley and Durfee estates on its fifth annual Historic Homes Tour, Saturday and next Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The tour, commencing at the parking lot of 24th Street School at Gramercy Place, will provide an insight into the life style of affluent Angelenos who built homes in the West Adams Boulevard area in the first two decades of this century.

The broadly-designated West Adams historical district covers sites on either side of the Santa Monica Freeway from Figueroa Street to Crenshaw Boulevard and Jefferson to Pico boulevards, said Harry Anderson, vice president of the tour-sponsoring society, whose own home is one of the tour sites.

"Before the 1960s when the freeway was introduced, the area included Berkeley Square, a gated community which sat on the path of the freeway and which included 20 mansions that had to be destroyed, among them the famous 65-room Phillips Mansion," Anderson explained.

"The area is filled with excellent examples of Victorian and Colonial Revival residences and California Craftsman bungalows designed by such famous architects as Charles & Henry Greene, Frank M. Tyler, Alfred & Arthur Heineman and Hudson & Munsell."

Of the 13 sites to be viewed on the present tour, he added, seven have never before been opened to the public.

"One is the Guasti Villa, built in 1910 (later known as the Busby Berkeley estate) and designed by Hudson & Munsell, a firm that also designed the county Hall of Records and the Museum of Science and Industry."

The villa is occupied by the Prana Theological Seminary.

Anderson's home, the Donavan House at 2179 W. 20th St., will be the setting for an outdoor Victorian Faire. The sitting room of the home will have a display of rare antiques of the American Arts and Crafts period (1880-1920).

The president of the West Adams Historic Society, Kathleen Salsbury, will open her Craftsman home for public viewing. Known as the Minney House/Salisbury House, built in 1909 at 2273 West 20th St. and designed by architect Frank M. Tyler., it is operated by Salsbury and her husband as a bed-and-breakfast inn.

At the Staple House (1656 West 25th St.) a Victorian clothing and accessory exhibit will be on display. The Ramsey House/Durfee Estate, a Tudor Revival mansion now known as the Villa Maria and the home of the Brothers of St. John of God, was designed by architect Frederick L. Roehrig and built in 1908.

Buses will make five tour stops and will leave the school parking lot every 10 to 15 minutes; a $10 fee will cover tour visits on both tour days.

Proceeds are earmarked for the promotion of the restoration of these vintage homes and to develop awareness programs that can be taken into schools. A large percentage of young people in the area are from immigrant families and the society wants to provide them with a sense of history and pride in their neighborhoods, Anderson said.

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