Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Three Carthay Neighborhoods Celebrate National Register of Historic Places Designation

Residents of three Carthay neighborhoods gathered at Tom Bergin’s last Friday to celebrate achieving Federal designation on the National Register of Historic Places.


Residents of three Carthay neighborhoods gathered together last Friday at Tom Bergin’s Pub to celebrate achieving federal designation on the National Register of Historic Places, further protecting their historic neighborhoods. The three neighborhoods South Carthay, Carthay Square, and Carthay Circle, all of which are also designated local Historic Preservation Overlay Zones,  are located in the Mid-City area, south of Wilshire and west of Fairfax.  Together, they will soon be be listed as the Carthay Neighborhoods Historic District. The determination last Friday was the unanimous decision of the California State Historical Resources Commission, which handles the Federal landmarking.


(l-r) Peter Merlin, Steve Luftman, Leni Gerber and Ann Rubin toast the new designation with a custom “Carthays Revival” cocktail, made with gin, sage simple syrup, and Champagne, created just for the occasion by Tom Bergin’s mixologists.


A small group of residents collaborated for more than a year on public education, community outreach, and raising funds to have the application professionally prepared by Architectural Resources Group, explained Ann Rubin, a resident and one of the organizers of the effort (along with Walter Dominguez, who has lived in South Carthay for 48 years). The 501(c)(3) non-profit Los Angeles Conservancy served as fiscal sponsor for the project, making it possible for the neighborhoods to raise nearly $100,000 to create the comprehensive application that impressed the commission.  Now part of the public record, you can go here to read the full application with extensive historic narrative, inventory, maps, and images, prepared by Architectural Resources Group. The document is a comprehensive inventory of the more than 1,000 single and multi-family homes in the neighborhood, covering a wide range of architectural styles prominent during the 1920s-30s when the neighborhoods were built.

According to the application:


“The Carthay Neighborhoods Historic District retains a high level of integrity. Of 1,171 total resources, 1,014 are district contributors and 157 are noncontributors, primarily due to loss of integrity or construction after the period of significance. In addition to buildings, contributing resources include sites, structures, and objects including two landscaped medians, two sections of landscaped esplanade, a small park with remnants of a water feature, five monuments and statues, and a pedestrian underpass. The district’s streets, sidewalks, walkways, and landscaping (including street and esplanade trees) also contribute to its significance and strong sense of place.”


The neighborhoods are also important and notable examples of planning, according to the application:


“Compared to many other 1920s-1930s residential neighborhoods in Los Angeles, the Carthay Neighborhoods Historic District is notable for its thoughtful incorporation of planning features that celebrate Southern California’s natural and cultural attributes. In a local context, the neighborhood is demonstrative of broad trends in community planning and suburban design that flourished in the early 20th century and aspired to better connect the American urban population with nature and open space. Carthay Center developer J. Harvey McCarthy strove to implement these trends in suburban design, roughly grouped under the umbrella of the City Beautiful movement, and the developers of Fairfax Park and Olympic-Beverly Plaza followed his lead in the development of their compatible residential neighborhoods.”


Recent efforts by state legislators to enact bills that override local planning and zoning spurred residents to seek the federal designation to preserve the sense of place described in the application.  Designation on the National Register of Historic Places will further assist residents in demonstrating the historic value and importance of preserving these unique neighborhoods, but it will not add any further restrictions on property owners. Los Angeles is home to several neighborhoods on the National Register. Most recently, the Beverly-Fairfax neighborhood and nearby Wilshire Vista joined the National Register in 2019. These neighborhoods are being threatened with demolition by developers looking to build more houses, but in 1979, the Wilton Historic District designation saved dozens of historic homes from destruction to construction a highway.

“We’ll still be three separate neighborhoods and retain our respective HPOZ names and Preservation Plans, but now we are joined together for this historic district designation at the Federal level,” explained Rubin. “The time was right to renew our vows — carrying the torch passed to us by the earlier generation of neighborhood boosters who worked hard to establish our Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, a local designation from the City of Los Angeles.”


Residents of South Carthay (l-r) John Barrentime, Marilouise Morgan and Chuck Marquardt celebrate the designation. Morgan, who is 92, told the Buzz he grew up in the neighborhood, raised her children here and now her grandchildren live in the neighborhood.


Walter Dominguez, far right, one of the organizers, congratulates his neighbors on securing the designation. Dominquez grew up in Pasadena and moved to South Carthay 48 years ago.


(far left) Dale Kendall, a resident of Beverly-Fairfax, who won historic designation for his neighborhood toasted his Carthay neighbors’ achievement.


The nomination is listed as follows:


“Carthay Neighborhoods includes three subdivisions established between 1922 and 1933, including Carthay Center, Fairfax Park, and Olympic-Beverly Plaza. They tangibly express the practical application of key City Beautiful ideas to residential developments during a period of intense growth in Los Angeles, and constitute an excellent collection of Period Revival residential architecture, including both single-family and multi-family residences.”


The Carthay name caught on beyond Carthay Center — the tract established by J. Harvey McCarthy — because of proximity to the famous Carthay Circle Theatre. The demolition of the movie palace in 1969 was one of the seminal events in the rise of the historic preservation movement in Los Angeles. The residents of Carthay were some of the first to secure Historic Preservation Overlay Zones to preserve the architectural heritage of their neighborhoods for future generations. Again, they are leading the way by adding additional federal protections. Below are some photos and maps from the application.



Information about the National Register of Historic Places program, including purpose, FAQ, and searchable database of all listings can be found here.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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