Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Healthcare Center
In continuous operation since 1888, the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs (VA) Campus spans 400 acres and includes a rich, highly-intact collection of historic buildings and structures, as well as site plan elements, landscape features, and streetscapes.
The original land and funding for the West Los Angeles campus came from a number of influential sources in the West, including U.S. Senator John P. Jones (Nevada), Robert Baker, and Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker. They believed that the development of a community of veterans would contribute to the economic growth of the surrounding area.
Known as the Pacific Branch of the National Home of Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the campus evolved throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Architect Stanford White was credited with designing the original Shingle style wood frame barracks, which influenced J. Lee Burton's designs for the Streetcar Depot (1890) and Wadsworth Chapel (1900).
Following the end of World War I, the medical facilities expanded significantly, and many of the Colonial Revival buildings were constructed during this period. A subsequent wave of development occurred after the establishment of the Veterans Administration in 1930; this building campaign was characterized by the proliferation of the Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. Notable examples from this era are the Wadsworth Theatre (1940) and Building 209 (1945), now known as the Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing.
In addition to its historic facilities, the campus is known for its open spaces, landscaping, and system of roadways anchored by Wilshire Boulevard.
Today, the campus includes the West Los Angeles VA Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. The Streetcar Depot and Wadsworth Chapel are also individually designated at the national level.
The rehabilitation of Buildng 209/Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing earned a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2016.
Congress first established the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers - later renamed the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers - in 1865, following the end of the Civil War.
By the 1880s, the need for a campus on the West Coast had emerged, and the Pacific branch of the National Home opened in Los Angeles in 1888. Within a year, the site contained a hospital, barracks, mess hall, and cemetery.
Ultimately, eleven branches operated around the country before they were absorbed into the newly-formed Veterans Administration in 1930.
The West Los Angeles VA Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 for its contributions to the "development of a national policy for Veteran health care" and as a "tangible manifestation of the federal government's commitment to the health care of Veterans of World War I, which resulted in the nation's largest network of hospitals."
The district also contains excellent examples of Mission Revival and Colonial Revival architecture, reflective of national building trends during the 1920s and 1930s, as well as efforts to evoke the region's history.