With Downtown LA’s skyline and the 110 freeway among the most popular subjects when photographing the City of Angels, it can be hard to associate Los Angeles with Victorian architecture.
But in the late 1800s, houses built in Southern California reflected the time period of the Victorian Era (1837 to 1901).
Many of these historic buildings faced demolition in the late 1900s, but you can see eight of them today at a relatively unknown gem in LA, Heritage Square Museum.
Located in LA’s Highland Park, the museum is a wonderful place to get up close and personal with the city’s history and get a feel for what life was like here in the 1880s.
For an admission fee of up to $10 (for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for children), visitors get a one-hour guided tour of the whole area and actually get to go inside most of the structures. (Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes when you visit!) Each building offers a glimpse of how residents lived and the chance to kind of travel back in time with draperies, wall paper, furniture, and appliances reflecting that of the time in which the homes were built.
Some people say the houses are haunted, and the docent that led the tour I went on said the Hale House is haunted, adding that previous visitors have said they’ve seen the original owner waving at them. My mom, who went with me, said she saw curtains move in the Hayes-Perry residence. But the museum’s website says they buildings are simply “visited” every now and then by their original owners.
In any case, that shouldn’t be a deterrent from checking out this low-key place. Whether or not the Hale House is haunted, it’s my favorite building in the museum.
Unfortunately, no interior photography is allowed for security reasons and public tours remain on the first levels of the buildings. Those interested in touring the upper levels of the homes must schedule a private tour.
California became a state in 1850, so it’s really fascinating to think about how these houses were built within the first few decades of California’s statehood.
Heritage Square Museum is located at the end of a cul de sac in a residential area where visitors can park for free. If street parking is full, there’s a gravel lot to the right as you approach the museum gates.
The museum is an amazing place that offers a unique, not-so-popular thing to do in LA. The houses are beautiful, but they’re not all restored. Heritage Square is a non-profit that is mostly funded by admissions, donations and site rentals.
By visiting, you’ll get both a hands-on learning experience, and you’ll be helping maintain the grounds and keep the place running.
P.S. I didn’t reveal everything about Heritage Square Museum in this post, so be sure to check it out and see for yourself! 🙂