For those who love historic home and garden tours, spring is generally the season for the garden tours. Fall brings great home tours from the Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society and the Pasadena Heritage society’s annual Craftsman Weekend. But the first weekend in December always brings us an early holiday gift from the West Adams Heritage Association, in the form of its annual Holiday Tour and Progressive Dinner. The event gives attendees the opportunity to enjoy a gala meal, one course at a time, while experiencing docent-led tours of six beautiful homes in one of West Adams’ many historic enclaves.
This year’s tour, “The Heights of Fashion,” will take place this coming weekend, December 7 and 8, in West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill, a neighborhood which was first laid out in 1902, stretching from Washington Blvd. to Adams Blvd., and Western to Normandie. West Adams Heights was developed with stately, custom-built homes and mansions, designed by some of the day’s leading architects, and was “considered one of the most fashionable neighborhoods” of the larger West Adams District. (In other words, it was the Windsor Square/Hancock Park of its time, years before those neighborhoods actually existed.)
West Adams Heights is also well known for its place in local civil rights history. According to WAHA:
“In the 1940s prominent African-American performers, impresarios, developers, and capitalists began to purchase homes in West Adams Heights, and it came to be known as “Sugar Hill.” Infamously, a group of white residents filed lawsuits against their new African-American neighbors; but in the end their efforts were unsuccessful and set the stage for the 1948 Supreme Court decision that finally banned restrictive racial covenants. From then, noted entertainers like Hattie McDaniel, Louise Beavers, Joel Fluellen, Pearl Bailey and others hosted swanky soirees throughout West Adams Heights.”
This year’s tour will feature six West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill homes, in the portion of the neighborhood that now lies north of the freeway, all within an easy two-block walk:
“Visitors will tour the interiors of landmark homes designed by notable architects, including Frederick L. Roehrig (known as “the Millionaire’s Architect”); Hudson & Munsell (who designed many fine residences in the West Adams District and elsewhere for upstanding members of society); Frank M. Tyler; Dennis & Farwell; and the Heineman & Heineman brothers (who built high-style and extremely creative Craftsman homes primarily in Los Angeles and Pasadena).”
(Full disclosure: the Heineman & Heineman-designed home, pictured above, is owned by this writer.)
The guided progressive dinner tours depart approximately every 40 minutes starting at 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday (the final dinner tour departs at 6 p.m. on each day). Also, for those who’d like a less expensive option, without the dinner but still with the docent-guided tours at each holiday-decorated home, there will be a self-paced walking tour, from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday only. (Proceeds from all the tours will be used to fund WAHA’s programs and preservation efforts for the coming year.)
Note that several of the dinner tours are already sold out, but check the event link above for remaining slots. Courses include appetizers (and champagne), soup, salad, an entrée with sides, and dessert.
Also note that tickets for the dinner tours MUST be reserved and paid for in advance (there will be no on-site ticket sales). Tickets for the Sunday non-dinner walking tour (12-3 p.m.) are available either in advance or on-site at the check-in house at 2051 S. Oxford Ave. (The final tickets will be sold and/or picked up at 1:30 p.m.)
Finally, if you might be interested in volunteering to help WAHA with the event, contact [email protected] – all volunteers will get to take the Sunday walking tour for free.