Ozawa Boarding House/ Obayashi Employment Agency and Joyce Boarding House/ Ozawa Residence
Sucess! On June 10th, the City Council adopted both properties as Historic-Cultural Monuments (HCMs).
In 1914, Tsyua and Sukesaka Ozawa purchased a recently-built home at 564 N Virgil Avenue. 564 Virgil, and the next-door property at 560 Virgil, were part of a nascent Japanese community known as the Madison/ J Flats neighborhood in East Hollywood. Sukesaka and Tsyua Ozawa were part of the first waves of migration of Issei, first generation Japanese immigrants, to arrive in Los Angeles. First congregating in Little Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, Japanese immigrants began to form residential enclaves throughout the city to start families.
As migration to the Madison/ J Flats neighborhood swelled in the 1920s, the Ozawas and their next-door neighbor at 560 Virgil Ave converted their homes into a boarding house. Boarding houses were popular as affordable residences for Japanese immigrants and often doubled as employment agencies. They served as places of community connection and cultural expression in an era where Japanese Americans were excluded from many parts of white Los Angeles.
By 1942, the Ozawa family ran both 564 and 560 N Virgil. Boarders, mainly single men working as gardeners in private residences, enlivened the homes and patronized Japanese shops along the Virgil corridor. This community fabric was violently severed at the onset of World War II when Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes, businesses, and communities. The Ozawas were incarcerated at a camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Their homes were stewarded by neighbors for the duration of the war.
In the post-war period, 564 N. Virgil Ave became an anchor to reunite family members and help their community rebuild. The Ozawas, who owned the properties through 1980, had a lasting influence on the neighborhood. The family developed four additional properties in the neighborhood and were actively involved in institution building in the neighborhood.
Today, single Japanese American men continue to call 564 Virgil Ave home. These residents continue an almost one-hundred-year legacy in the building known for provided community and security for Japanese and Japanese Americans in East Hollywood.
Hear from boarding house tenants and Conservancy staff about why this building matters here:
The boarding houses were sold in February 2021 to a new owner, spurring a nomination by Hollywood Heritage.