International Institute of Los Angeles
UPDATE: On April 17, 2020, the Cultural Heritage Commission voted unanimously to take the Historic-Cultural Monument nomination under consideration.
The International Institute was established in Boyle Heights in 1914 as a branch of the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). Its mission was to “serve women and girls coming from Europe and the Orient and to assist the foreign communities in their adjustment to life in this country.” One of the Institute’s earliest projects was to meet Japanese picture brides at the L.A. Harbor and help them resettle into their new lives in Los Angeles.
The Spanish Colonial Revival building features two courtyards, one at the front behind the wall along Boyle Avenue, and one just inside the doors. The architects of this building were Webber & Spaulding, a prominent architecture firm in Los Angeles in the 1920s. The firm was well-known for their elegant Spanish Colonial Revival projects in San Marino, Claremont (at Pomona College), and Palos Verdes.
In April 2019, the property was listed for sale, leaving its future uncertain. In August 2019, the Boyle Heights Community Partners nominated the building for local Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) recognition. The Conservancy helped prepare and supports the nomination.
The International Institute was formally determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by Section 106 review in 2000 and was added to the California Register.
Additionally, the property has been identified as eligible for local listing in SurveyLA, including in the Japanese Americans Historic Context, the Women's Rights Historic Context, and Latino Los Angeles Historic Context.
The International Institute meets Criteria 1 and 3 for designation as a City of Los Angeles' Historic-Cultural Monument.
As of 2020, there are 17 extant HCMs in Boyle Heights, which represents less than 2% of all HCMs citywide. Only 15 citywide are associated with women, of which two are associated with women of color. The Boyle Heights Community Partners and the Conservancy aim to increase the number of HCMs which represent a more inclusive Los Angeles.
The Cultural Heritage Commission voted to take the Historic-Cultural Monument nomination under consideration on April 17, 2020. Thank you to those that submitted letters of support to date.
Couldn't participate on April 17th? Email the Commission!
Please email today and urge the Cultural Heritage Commission to recommend International Institute for local landmark status.
The letter should be addressed to the Commission Chair and Commissioners, who will soon vote to recommend landmark designation (Dear Chair Barron and members of the Commission,).
To make sure your message becomes part of the official record, please include “International Institute, 435 South Boyle” in the subject line of your email.
Please send your message to the following individuals: