Built in 1925, this at-risk Tudor Revival-style bungalow court represents an increasingly rare property type.
Advocates advocating for CalTrans to transfer ownership of the Maycrest Bungalows to community members to rehabilitate and re-use the Bungalows as a community center.
Los Angeles, California 90032
The future of the Maycrest Bungalows, one of El Sereno’s few remaining bungalow courts, has languished vacant since the 1960s when the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) acquired it for the failed 710 freeway extension.
Since 2007, however, the Eastside Cafe has advocated to preserve the Maycrest Bungalows and return them to the community. Through extensive community engagement and collaboration with organizations including the L.A. Conservancy, they have drafted a plan to rehabilitate and re-use the bungalows as a community center.
About This Place
About This Place
The Tudor Revival style buildings with elements of Spanish Colonial Revival reflect a particularly important property type of 1920s Southern California that combines density with affordability.
In 2007, the Eastside Café, an autonomous cultural space in El Sereno, saw the Bungalows’ potential to meet community needs. They founded the El Sereno Bungalows Collective and conducted widespread outreach to learn what residents envisioned. The response was overwhelming: residents wanted to preserve and rehabilitate the bungalows as a cultural center. However, conversations with Caltrans stalled and the Eastside Café was unable to purchase the property
In 2022, the Eastside Café, now part of the El Sereno Community Land Trust (ESCLT), ESCLT released a proposal to transfer the Maycrest Bungalows and other Caltrans properties to community-ownership, sensitively add density, and ensure the properties would remain affordable in perpetuity. The same year, Councilmember Kevin De León released the Vision El Sereno plan where the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) would manage the properties and add new units all with 55-year affordability clauses.
In the 1960s, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) acquired the 1920s Tudor Revival bungalow court and displaced residents from more than 500 homes as part of a plan to extend the 710 Freeway to connect Pasadena and Alhambra. Community opposition to the freeway extension successfully delayed the construction of the freeway, but the Bungalows sat vacant as the legal battles dragged on. In 1994, the Northridge earthquake thrust the building into further disrepair.
The plan to extend the 710 Freeway, followed the logic of many urban planning ventures of the era: increase the flow of commerce at the expense of Black and brown communities. For the El Sereno Community Land Trust and their partners, the fight for the bungalows offers a way to make repairs for historical harm by promoting land ownership and self-determination for El Sereno residents.
The 710 Freeway extension officially died on Gavin Newsome’s desk in 2019. The next year, activists with Reclaiming Our Homes (ROH) brought the Caltrans buildings back into the public eye. Following Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home order, thirteen unhoused and housing-insecure families moved into vacant homes in El Sereno. They drew state-wide attention to the ways the pandemic exacerbated the homeless crisis and demanded public officials work to make these houses into homes. The El Sereno Community Land Trust proposal affirms their accountability to El Sereno residents and tenants organized with ROH and Untied Caltrans Tenants.
The Conservancy has supported efforts to rehabilitate the Maycrest Bungalows since 2012. We believe the Bungalows demonstrate the role of historic preservation in repurposing existing community assets to create new spaces for connection.
In 2012, we assisted the Eastside Cafe in applying for a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to complete a feasibility study to rehabilitate the property. Today, we advocate for Caltrans to transfer ownership to the El Sereno Community Land Trust to realize this longstanding community vision.
How You Can Help
Visit the El Sereno Community Land Trust’s website to learn about community land control and sign up for updates on their campaign to acquire the Maycrest Bungalows and other Caltrans-owned properties.