Sharing the history of El Sereno,

the oldest community in Los Angeles.


Picture of the Month (December 2020)

       As part of our mission to share the history of El Sereno with the community and public, every month we present either a historic picture(s), documents, or current community event/issue.  
The Picture of the Month also gives residents the opportunity to share historic photos and information with the rest of the El Sereno community.  Sharing and learning about El Sereno’s history is a community effort and we thank everyone who has contributed to the website.  
(Have a photo to us at or

El Sereno Community Survey

What concerns do you have about El Sereno? Take the survey and let us know.
#covid19 has negatively impacted the community and #smallbusinesses of #elsereno. This community survey hopes to capture �� diverse needs from those who live, work, eat and/or play in El Sereno.��‍��‍��‍��
We will present the survey results and announce the 2 winners of $100.00 ��VISA gift cards at the next #townhall with Councilmember Kevin De Leon in #2021.

Take survey at
Survey co-created✨ and sponsored by: El Sereno Historical Society @elserenohistory, @ElSerenoCommunityLandTrust, @UnitedCaltransTenants, @InnerCityStruggle, @hechoenmexicorestaurant, @holygroundscoffee , El Sereno Stallions, El Sereno Community Arts

El Sereno Encuesta Comunitaria

#covid19 ha impactado negativamente a la comunidad y a los #pequeñosnegocios de #elsereno. Esta encuesta espera capturar �� las diversas necesidades de aquellos que viven, trabajan, comen y/o juegan en El Sereno ��‍��‍��‍��. Presentaremos los resultados de la encuesta y anunciaremos los 2 ganadores de $100.00 �� tarjetas de regalo VISA en la próxima #reunióncomunitaria con el concejal Kevin De Leon en #2021. ����


Encuesta fue co-creado y patrocinado por: @ElSerenoHistory, @ElSerenoCommunityLandTrust, @UnitedCaltransTenants, @InnerCityStruggle, @HechoEnMexicoRestaurant, @HolyGroundsCoffee El Sereno Stallions


       The historical facts presented by the El Sereno Historical Society are from the History of El Sereno, as was presented by George Casen on April 18, 1994 to the El Sereno Coordinating Council (1769-1946).  The historical document History of El Sereno is presented using the same words, illustrations, and facts contained in the historical document.  We have added other documents, maps, links, and pictures to enhance and better inform our readers about our community of El Sereno's long and unique history.  Any material/text that has been supplemented to The History of El Sereno will be shown in blue color font and within brackets [ ].  To download a PDF of George Casen's History of El Sereno, see our Reference Section at the end of the page.  To learn more about the El Sereno Historical Society visit About Us.

Spanish Exploration and the Mission Period (1769-1830)

[UPDATE: EL SERENO was original site of the Native Tongva Village of OTSUNGNA.  Click on Picture to enlarge PDF file.]

      In 1769, when the Portola Expedition passed the area just south of present day El Sereno, the Native American Village of Otsungna was located on the banks of a local stream. [UPDATE: The Native American Village of Ostungna existed in what today is EL SERENO.  Though little evidence exist because the area was never seriously examined nor were items preserved.  Worst of all, any surviving evidence was obliterated during the development of the 710 freeway and Cal State University Los Angeles.  

But it is logical to consider that one of the original 36 adobes built in California was built in El Sereno because the stream known as Arroyo Rosa de Castilla runs down the the middle of EL Sereno, right past where the original Spanish adobe once stood.  The adobe was most likely built very near the native village because the native Tongva people were the primary labor force behind the majority of the Mission's construction projects, including the building of the San Gabriel Mission.  It's logical to think the native Tongva people living in Otsungna helped with the building of the original adobe.  The land now occupied by CSULA is the site where the original adobe once stood.  This land/area was the heart of San Gabriel Mission land-grant called Rosa de Castillo].

      Later called Arroyo Rosa de Castilla, the stream runs east of present-day Guardia and Farnsworth Avenues, as depicted in Figure 4.
[This historic and under-appreciated Arroyo was very important in the survival and development of the Mission during the early years of the San Gabriel Mission's relocation, founding, and construction.  It was also important in the development and growth later on, when the area became part of the land grant christened Rancho Rosa de Castilla, {for more info visit Arroyo Rosa de Castilla Collection}.]
      The trail that passed from the village of Yangna (near where the Pueblo of Los Angeles was founded in 1781) to Otsungna and then to the village of Sibagna (near the second and final site of the Mission San Gabriel) later became Mission Road. 
[Mission Road was later changed to Alhambra Avenue, then El Monte Road, and more recently to Valley Blvd.  The old Alhambra Ave/Mission Road still runs through El Sereno, passing right in front of the historic San Gabriel Mission].

      The El Sereno area, then known as the Mission Hills as depicted in Figure 5, was part of the lands owned by the Mission San Gabriel Archangel, founded in 1771.  Used for cattle grazing, an adobe was constructed here in 1776 by vaqueros from the Mission.  [The original site of the San Gabriel Mission was located in the area now known as Whittier Narrows, between the cities of Rosemead and Montebello.  A severe and devastating flood in 1776, caused by the San Gabriel River that flowed nearby, led the mission fathers to relocate the San Gabriel Mission farther north, to its present location in the city of San Gabriel.   The San Gabriel Mission's Spanish land grant came to be known as Rancho Rosa de Castillo.  Over time Castillo has been modified/changed to Castilla, either by mistake or on purpose. 

[BELOW: Early photo of the historic adobe built in 1776, remodeled around 1882, that once stood on ground now occupied by Cal State L.A.  Photo was taken during the era the Batz Family resided there, on what is known as the historic Rancho Rosa de Castilla.  Though it has been enlarged and modified, you can still see part of old adobe walls that support the new additions.] 

[The adobe commissioned in 1776 by the  Mission Friars was constructed near a creek that runs through the present-day community of El Sereno.  This stream was named "Arroyo Rosa de Castillo" due to the abundance of wild roses that grew alongside its banks.  The adobe is one of the original 36 adobes built in California.  

It is believed that the adobe was built very near or next to the native Tongva village of Otsungna.  Otsunga was located alongside the same stream named "Arroyo Rosa de Castilla" by the Spanish Missionaries.  
The adobe was probably built in this particular area due to the proximity of a reliable water source and because of its close proximity to native village of Otsungna.  

The native Tongva people were the primary labor force behind the majority the construction projects during the Mission Period.  Many, if not all, of the early adobes and buildings constructed during this time period can be credited to their labor, including the building of the San Gabriel Mission.  It would be logical to think the Tongva people living in the village of Otsungna would also be used to help build the original adobe.  An interesting fact to note is that the name of the native village of Otsungna translates to "Place of Roses".  CITATION NEEDED  The Arroyo Rosa de Castilla still runs down the the middle of EL Sereno, though most of it has been buried underground.  You can still see the Arroyo flowing as you turn onto the 710 South on Valley Blvd.
 See LummisDay2012 PDF  and see Arroyo Rosa de Castilla maps provided above.] 

       Around 1810, a Spanish Government adobe toll house was built next to the road from the Mission to the Pueblo [of Los Angeles] (now Valley Boulevard/Alhambra Avenue), near what is now Warwick Avenue and Martin Street (just north of Alhambra Avenue).    

[The Planning Area was originally inhabited by the Gabrielino Indians, who lived in small villages in the area of Eagle Rock and the center city.  The only evidence of habitation by Native Americans which survives is in archeological sites.

      The Planning Area was first visited by Europeans in 1769 when Spaniard, Gaspar de Portola camped near what is now Elysian Park.  Two years later, when the fourth of the twenty-one Franciscan missions of Alta California was founded at San Gabriel, portions of the Planning Area were used for grazing land and for vineyards.  A decade later, the pueblo known as Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles, and now the City of Los Angeles, was founded and incorporated some of these lands.  The areas currently known as Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Echo Park, and a portion of Silver Lake all fall within this four square league parcel (36 square miles) of the original City of Los Angeles.  In 1784, three years after the pueblo was founded, Spanish Governor Pedro Fages granted all the lands between the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco to Jose Maria Verdugo.  The Rancho San Rafael as it was known, covered approximately 36,000 acres.  The El Sereno area and a small fraction of the Silver Lake area are the only portions of the Planning Area which were not included in either the pueblo or Rancho San Rafael.  El Sereno was later part of the Rancho Rosa Castillo, and the western edge of Silver Lake was part of the Rancho Los Felix granted to Vincente Felix in 1802.]

      The historical information presented in the paragraphs above came from the historic context statement The Northeast Los Angeles Subregional Planning AreaThe Northeast Los Angeles Subregional Planning Area of the City of Los Angeles, prepared by Historic Resource Group for The Los Angeles Conservatory can be downloaded from the Reference section.]     

We also present this well researched article, written by John R. Chavez, which holds many little known facts and historic information about El Sereno's historic Rancho Rosa de Castilla.

Mexican Rancho Period (1831-1847)

After Mexican Independence from Spain (1821), the Rancho Rosa de Castilla (Rose of Castile Ranch) was granted in 1831 to Juan Ballesteros as depicted in Figure 6.  He was the Regidor of the Pueblo of Los Angeles from 1823 - 1824.  The Rancho was named after the stream running through the area.  [The stream is the same one mentioned earlier that runs east of present-day Guardia and Farnsworth Avenues. The stream continues to run up to the present day, a small portion of it can be seen adjacent to Cal State LA and the 710 freeway.  You can see the arroyo as you enter the 710 S on Valley Blvd.  See LA Times article dated March 8, 1992, located below, in the American Ranch Period (1848-1901) for more info about the stream]  This stream was called the Arroyo Rosa de Castilla because of the roses growing on its banks.  It includes what is now Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, City Terrace, and parts of South Pasadena, Alhambra, and Monterey Park.  After the secularization of the missions in 1833, the ranch passed to Francisco (Chico) Lopez.  He had a home in Paredon Blanco (now Boyle Heights), but kept his cattle here.  In 1840 he expanded the adobe on the ranch which had been built by workers from the Mission in 1776.  This adobe was located in what is now the City of Alhambra near Westmont Drive and Jurich Place as depicted in Figure 7[The adobe was destroyed in a fire in 1908 during the making of an early silent movie, see Wiki & Mr. R. Lerner document.]  In the later 1840s he obtained title to a ranch near Lake Elizabeth in northern Los Angeles County and moved his cattle from Rancho Rosa de Castilla to this ranch.

      [Below: map showing the historical areas and boundaries of the City of Los Angeles, Rancho San Rafael, San Gabriel Mission (which includes El Sereno), and the various other historic Ranchos formed during the Spanish and Mexican Rancho periods.   El Sereno was part of the San Gabriel Mission until the El Sereno area was passed onto Juan Ballesteros in 1831, under the name of Rancho Rosa de Castilla.  El Sereno's area continued intact, passing over into the Batz's Family Rancho Rosa de Castilla in 1852.  El Sereno has maintained it's land and community unity up to the present time, with only some parts being absorbed into the cities of Alhambra and Pasadena/South Pasadena (See Figure 11).  Some of these areas would be added back to El Sereno in 1915, when the El Sereno area was finally annexed into the City of Los Angeles (See Los Angeles Annexation and Community Establishment Period {1912-1929}).  Figure 6 is also useful as evidence of El Sereno's historic ties to the area.  Click on map below to enlarge and see further details of El Sereno's connection to the area].

El Sereno has almost the same historical boundaries with Los Angeles today as it did when the City of Los Angeles and Rancho San Rafael were created (1781 and 1784
respectively).  El Sereno sits between the Camino Real to it's South, Rancho San Rafael to the North, and the City of Los Angeles/Lincoln Heights to the West (the community Lincoln Heights has always been in and part of Los Angeles. Lincoln Heights falls within the original 36 square miles that were part of Los Angeles foundation in 1781).]  

[BELOW: Another great map showing the boundaries of Rancho Rosa de Castilla and Los Angeles. From the map we can see that Rancho Rosa de Castilla extended up to the boundaries of L.A. and Rancho San Rafael, although at the time the map was made, the area was known as Rancho Verdugo. The original and huge Rancho San Rafael had already been divided.   
Caption: Map of the city of Los Angeles showing the confirmed limits surveyed in August 1857 by Henry Hancock Shows drainage, block and lot numbers, land ownership, buildings, fields, etc All street names are in both English and Spanish. Click on map to enlarge.]

Map of Los Angeles city lands in September 1, 1858, [s.d.]
[Photograph of a map of Los Angeles city lands in September 1858, [s.d.]. At center an almost-square boundary is visible with "Los Angeles" written inside of it. Above the boundary, Rancho Los Feliz, Rancho Canada, and Rancho San Rafael are indicated. To the right of the boundary, Rancho Rosa Castillo and Public Land are indicated. Public Land is also depicted at left and bottom, and Rancho San Antonio is depicted at bottom right. Photoprint reads: "Plat of the City Lands of Los Angeles finally confirmed to the Mayor and Common Council of the City of Los Angeles. Surveyed under instructions from the U.S. Surveyor General by Henry Hancock Dep. Sur September 1858 Containing 17.172 37/100 Acres".]
Click on map for link 

[Below: Current and Official Map of our El Sereno community.  We can also see the boundaries between the communities El Sereno/Lincoln Heights.  There has been very little change between the boundaries when compared to maps dating to the 1850s. (Click on map to enlarge).] 

Map of El Sereno, 1869

American Ranch Period (1848-1901)

[For more historical articles related to the picture above, read Rancho Rosa Castilla,
Jose D. Batz, Domingo Batz.
  Link .]

[The map above shows different view of the land area belonging to Rancho Rosa de Castilla.  The map  depicts Rancho Rosa de Castilla centered between the City of L.A. and the San Gabriel Mission. 
Map of the lands of the Mission San Gabriel: situated in Los Angeles County, California, originally sold to Messrs. Workman & Reed, now owned by Messrs. Workman, Howard, Brannan & others / surveyed in August 1857 by Henry Hancock, U.S. Dep. Survey.  Click on Map or Visit Map Source: Online Archives of California to enlarge.]

      The Rancho Rosa de Castilla was acquired around 1850 by Anacleto Lestrade, priest of Our Lady of the Angels Church on the Plaza [Map of Rancho Rosa de Castillo].  In 1852, Jean-Baptiste (Juan Bautista) Batz and his wife Catalina Hegui Batz, who had arrived in California from Argentina in 1850, acquired the adobe ranch house from Lestrade as depicted in Figure 8 (see photo below).  Jean-Baptiste engaged in farming and sheep ranching until his death on December 6, 1859.  Under the Homestead Act, Catalina Batz received official title to the 160 acres upon which the adobe stood in 1876.  She proceeded to purchase land from the surrounding owners.  The ranch eventually encompassed a total of 3,283 acres of land.  It included the later communities of Ramona Acres (City of Alhambra), Sierra Vista (El Sereno), Sierra Park (El Sereno), West Alhambra (Alhambra and El Sereno), and Bairdstown (El Sereno) west to El Sereno Avenue (now Eastern Avenue).  She survived him until February 22, 1882.  The land portion of the estate was then divided between six of her eight children.  The southernmost 700 acres passed to the third oldest son Jose Domingo Batz.

[For more information about Rancho Rosa de Castilla read: The History of Rosa de Castilla-El Sereno. 
Written by J. Garcia, founding member the El Sereno Historical Society.]

Figure 8.

[Before it was El Sereno, it was Rancho Rosa de Castilla, home of the Batz Family.  The Batz Family is pictured above enjoying a summer garden party, 1870.]


[Links to recent L.A.Times articles on Batz Family/El Sereno history: 
Southland Pioneer Esperanza Batz Dies (L.A. Times, Dec.12, 1986)

El Sereno: Price, Convenience,Friendliness Exert Pull (L.A. Times, Feb. 16, 1992) PDF
History of El Sereno (L.A. Times, March 8, 1992)
Related to L.A. Times, Feb.16, 1992 PDF article

Juan Bautista Batz (L.A. Times, Nov. 1, 1993)

[ABOVE: Martin Lifur, owner of many acres in El Sereno, sits in his horse drawn carriage driven by "Queenie" in front of his ranch house on Hollister St [picture dated 1908].  The land which Mr. Lifur owned eventually became Sierra Park. (Photo from LAPL)]

      In 1894 Martin Lifur, brother of Josefa Lifur Batz (wife of Jose Domingo Batz), purchased 310 acres of the Batz ranch in the area of Sierra Park from Domingo Batz, eldest son of Juan and Catalina Batz.  This included another old adobe near present Navarro Street and Lifur Avenue (just south of Huntington Drive) which had been built by Antonio Jauregui, another Basque sheep rancher prior to being purchased by Catalina Batz about 1880, as depicted in Figures 7 and Figure 9.

[ABOVE: Picture of Jose Domingo Batz (seated on the left) with wife Josefa Lifur Batz (standing behind him to his right).  Josefa was the sister to Matin Lifur, who went on to buy many acres of land that were formally part of the Rancho Rosa de Castilla.  The other individuals remain unidentified.] 

[BELOW: Photo of Jauregui, Antonio and Dominga with family around 1888.  Seated front row, left to right: Peter Jauregui, Maria concepcion Garciosa or Grace Jauregui, Ramon Jauregui, Francisco Antonio Jauregui, Louis Jauregui, Martin Jauregui, Standing back row left to right: Martina or Martha Jauregui, Dominga (Labat) Jauregui, Juana Ramona or Jane Jauregui, Francisco or Frank Jauregui.  For more information read historical document about Jauregui/Rancho Rosa Castilla and visit]


      About 1870 Captain Jacob Colvin Newton purchased a 160-acre L-shaped ranch stretching from the present Eastern and El Sereno Avenues on the west to Guardia Avenue on the east as depicted in Figure 7.  In the late 1880s he purchased the northern portion of Batz Ranch from Francisca Batz Echeverria, a daughter of Catalina Batz.  On the ranch was a modest cottage on the north side of what is now Huntington Drive at Van Horne Avenue.  Captain Newton grew hay and raised horses that would race at his racetrack located just south of Roses Road (now Huntington Drive) and east of Farmdale Road (now Eastern Avenue).  Captain Newton and his family lived near Mission San Gabriel from 1870 to 1882, when they returned to their native Erie County, New York.  After Newton served one term as County Supervisor, he returned to Los Angeles with his family about 1884.  Later they moved their primary residence from West Adams area of Los Angeles to South Pasadena.

      A ranch west of what is now Eastern Avenue was owned by the Smith Family.  Their home and well existed about 1885 just south of what is now Huntington Drive at Paola Avenue as depicted in Figure 7 (see Fig 7 above).  The Smith Estate was partitioned in 1885.  George Hugh Smith, who retained a parcel of the family estate after partition, was a prominent attorney in Los Angeles, a State Senator and a Judge of the Second Appellate District.  The Cornwall family built a house about 1885 on a part of the Smith property, near present-day Eastern Avenue and Harmony Lane.  Most of this ranch was later bought by Evan Evans.  He was a trustee of the Farmdale School, the first school in the area.  The northeastern corner of this ranch became the Los Angeles Military Academy in 1910.
       Around 1870, the residence of Jesse Yarnell sat on a hill in what is now Rose Hill at the western boundary of present El Sereno.  Mr. Yarnell was one of the earliest newspaper editors and publishers in California.  He was co-founder in 1873 of the Los Angeles Mirror Company, which later merged with the Los Angeles Times.
       A ranch house on the south side of Valley Boulevard, near the junction of present day Eastern Avenue, was owned by the Hirigoyen family who had a saloon and boarding house on Ducommun Street in Los Angeles.  They raised chickens, ducks, and pigs.
        A large acreage in the vicinity of present Monterey Road and Collis Avenue was owned by Hancock M Johnston, one of the owners of the Los Angeles Herald and co-founder of East Los Angeles (now Lincoln Heights).  This land later passed to Marcos A Forster of San Juan Capistrano, a nephew of Pio Pico, who subsequently subdivided the parcel.
       Sheep and cattle ranching was gradually replaced by agriculture and stock raising.  The farmers grew hay and barley, raised pigs and chickens, and ran dairies.
       After 1858, the Butterfield stages ran east of Los Angeles along Valley Boulevard.  A stop was at The Five Mile House Saloon and watering trough located just south of Valley Boulevard adjacent to the present Long Beach Freeway.  The saloon was owned by Glenn and Heller, and later by Simon Maier, President of Pacific Coast Beef and Provision Company.

[UPDATE PENDING--BELOW: Possible photo of Station Five Mile House Saloon, El Sereno; link Station M.]

       By 1869, what is now Mission Road/Monterey Road proceeded from the western end of present El Sereno through a pass in the hills to the Rancho San Pascual as depicted in Figure 5.  Roses Road was established by 1873, beginning at the present intersections of Huntington Drive and Monterey Road and proceeding east.  Later known as Los Angeles-Pasadena Road and East Los Angeles Road, it passed approximately where Huntington Drive is today.  About 1875, Brown Road was established through this area.   It ran northeasterly from Lincoln Park, at present Valley Boulevard and Mission Road in Lincoln Heights, to West Alhambra Road and Fremont Avenue.  It was abandoned about 1900.
       The Southern Pacific Railroad was built through the El Sereno area in 1876, as depicted in Figure 10.  Catalina Batz purchased the majority of the excess lands adjacent to the tracks after the railroad was completed.  Due to Southern Pacific's high rates, development of this area did not follow.
        Competition soon followed with the advent of the Sante Fe Railroad, which built trackage to Los Angeles in 1887.  A fare war between the two railroads lowered rates bringing many immigrants from the East and Midwest to Los Angeles.  During the subsequent real estate boom, the Yorba and Paige Tract, at the western edge of El Sereno, was recorded in October 1887.  A few years after the bust of 1888, the adjacent Omaha Heights Tract was recorded in 1892.
       The area of present day El Sereno south to Twining Street was included as part of the City of South Pasadena during incorporation on February 29, 1888 as depicted in Figure 11.  A vote taken on September 28, 1889, however, excluded from the city limits all land south of West Alhambra Road (effective October 2, 1889).  A majority of the voters within the revised city limits wanted to prohibit alcoholic drinking establishments within the borders of the City.  All the voters in the excluded territory were in favor of exclusion as they did not want to be in a "dry" town.

[The caption of this picture reads: Farmdale Public School, July 12, 1904. The group pictured in front of the old Schoolhouse includes Esperanza and Margerita Batz, from a family of early farmers.]

      This same year saw the establishment of a new Farmdale School district and the building of the Farmdale School.  The school is depicted in figure 12 (above).  This area, as well as South Pasadena, had been part of the Pasadena School District.  The Prohibitionist sentiments of Pasadena and South Pasadena may have been the impetus for the creation of the new school district.

[ABOVE and BELOW: Students and teachers pose outside of the Bairdstown School located in El Sereno.  The Bairdstown School was later renamed Farmdale Grammar School, and is still standing on the campus of  El Sereno Middle School (original site of Wilson High School) on Eastern Avenue. Photo dated 1905, LAPL]

[In all likely-hood taken the same day, the two photos show us the reality of the time. 
Compare the first photograph to the second;
notice the segregation of ethnic groups,
possibly even by religious orientation. LAPL collection]

[ABOVE: Heel...Toe...Heel...Toe...
Undated picture (1900-1910?) showing Farm Dale students practicing dance for school events/show(?); or maybe it was part of the P.E. Program from back in the day.  What do you think?  
(The caption was missing, hopefully we'll be able to find what the caption originally said).]

      Water sources for the area were the Arroyo Rosa de Castilla and another arroyo that ran north-south just east of present Eastern Avenue.  The small Ascot Reservoir, being used by 1894 to store water, did not have the capacity to meet the needs of the many subdivisions that were soon to bring new residents to the area.
[For more information about Arroyo Rosa de Castilla visit our Special Collection page.]

       The reasons that the present El Sereno area did not develop between the 1870s and 1900 were not limited to a lack of local transportation and adequate water sources.  Magnets for residential, commercial, and industrial growth developed by powerful men of the era encircled the area.  To the west was the community of East Los Angeles (later Lincoln Heights), subdivided in 1873 by Dr. John S. Griffin and his nephew Hancock M. Johnston.  To the southwest was Boyle Heights, subdivided in 1876 by W.H. Workman.  To the east was the town of Alhambra, subdivided in 1874 by Benjamin D Wilson and Ramona/Shorb founded by James de Barth Shorb.  To the north were the community of Pasadena subdivided in 1874 and the first subdivisions, platted 1885, in the future South Pasadena (Figure 10).

[ABOVE:1897, picture of Batz Family with foreman Gregorio Arostegui & Family.  Also hired men in top row left 3 and uncle Rafael.  Manetz (August Batz) is front left, his father, Jose Domingo, then Margerita. Next is their mother, Josefa Lifur Batz--next to her is Esperanza. The next woman is not identified...but the child to her left in a girl's dress is John Batz.  In foreground is water tower and blacksmith shop.
Margerita and Esperanza Batz lived in El Sereno (Rancho Rosa de Castilla) all their lives.  A lot of what we know about life on the Rancho, and Rancho Rosa de Castilla, comes from the many interviews and stories they shared.  Both ladies were unmarried and both passed away during the 1980s; Margerita passed away on March, 1981 and Esperanza on December 10, 1986.  Both John and August Batz died in May, 1973; John passed away on May 15, 1973 and August on May 31, 1973. Info courtesy of R. Lerner Archives, CSULA.] 

        The sheepherding and farming business of Catalina Batz and her surviving children was successful and afforded them an affluent lifestyle.  Other landowners were involved in agriculture or stock raising and thus depended on the land for their livelihood.  There were also landowners who lived in the City and kept horses at their country ranches in this area.  Unlike the real estate promoters of the surrounding territory, none of these affluent and comfortable owners had an incentive to develop their land.

[ABOVE: Not the best kept historic photo (coffee stains?), but we can still appreciate another great picture of the old adobe ranch house. No caption was found for this picture, but it was probably taken around the same time as the others we have shared; between 1885-1890. 

Seen here are women, children, and men relaxing in front of the adobe home. What look like turkeys can also be seen around the bench areas near the women. 

The Batz family was well known for their hospitality and every wary traveler, trader, and stranger could always count on being able to take a break, be treated to a good meal, and relax for a while at the Rancho before continuing their journey.  Their generosity was well known all over Southern California, so much so that Rancho Rosa de Castilla became synonymous with the title Casa de Descanso (Home of Rest)--
Los Angeles Herald Article 2-18-1906.]
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Pacific Electric Railway and Real Estate Subdivisions (1902-1911)

       The pastoral setting of this area changed with the development of rail transportation lines through this area.  On May 1, 1895 the first interurban rail route in Southern California opened from Los Angeles to Pasadena along the Arroyo Seco, spurring subdivisions along that route.  In 1902, the Pasadena Short Line was opened along Los Angeles-Pasadena Boulevard, now Huntington Drive as depicted in Figure 13 and Figure 14.  Los Angeles was recovering from the slump that had followed the boom of the late 1890s.  The new economic climate and the rail line were the impetus for the subdivisions of tracts as depicted in Figure 15, Figure 16Figure 17, and as shown on Table 1 (See photos below).

                 Figure 15                                       Figure 16                                          Figure 17

By 1915, 11 tracts had been subdivided in the Bairdstown area centered at Farmdale Avenue (now Eastern Avenue) and Huntington Drive and as depicted in Figure 18.  The easternmost central tract was the Navarro Tract owned by the Janss Company.  Recorded in March 1909, it was later known as Sierra Park.  At the south end of Bairdstown between El Monte Road (now Valley Boulevard) and the Covina Line of the Pacific Electric was Grider and Hamilton's Floral Park, a subdivision of large lots recorded April 1906.  This subdivision remained vacant, however, until the 1940s.

      [The Grider and Hamilton's Floral Park Tract is the area of El Sereno across the tracks on Valley Blvd.   Part of the Grider and Hamilton's Floral Tract was bought and developed into what we now know as Cal State L.A.  The hills are the southern boundary of El Sereno.  (See Map, area outlined in red is where Grider and Hamilton's Floral Park Tract is located: Map of El Sereno See also Figure 18)

The area where Cal State L.A. now sits was part of the original land owned by the Batz Family.  The original adobe home where the Batz family lived was located on what is now a Cal State L.A. parking lotThe adobe was destroyed in a fire in 1908.  In 1991, Cal State L.A. dedicated a plaque and renamed a street in honor of the Batz Family, who helped establish the Rancho Rosa de Castilla, and gave the Rancho it's original name.  Although the area is currently labeled "University Hills", there are many members of the El Sereno community who still refer to it as part of El Sereno.  Some community residents are looking into officially reinstating the area back into El Sereno, considering that it's a symbolic cornerstone of El Sereno's history and the Rancho Rosa Castilla.  There are questions as to whether this area of El Sereno was renamed with the proper procedures in 2004.  See Map above and visit "Univeristy Hills" on the El Sereno Residents Alliance page for more information.

See L.A. Times Articles for more historical information]  

[George Baird-Land Developer...about 1906.  Owned most of what today is El Sereno--also owned land in Redondo Beach and built the Redondo Beach Hotel.]

     The only subdivision lots designed to draw affluent buyers were those on a hilltop in the Baird Park Tract and in Baird's Pasadena Short Line Tract.  With the exception of a few scattered houses, these subdivisions did not generate the building of upscale homes.

[Baird Park Tract real estate office in El Sereno.  LAPL]

       At the far eastern end of what is now known as El Sereno was the Short Line Villa Tract, subdivided in August 1906, as depicted in Figure 19.  It was adjacent to two previously subdivided tracts in the City of South Pasadena: Oneonta Park Addition No. 1, owned by Huntington Land and Improvement Co., recorded March 1904; and Valley View Heights, owned by Valley View Heights Co., recorded March 1906.  The expense that Henry Huntington incurred to build the Oneonta Park Pacific Electric Railway Station indicates that these adjacent subdivisions were designed to attract an upper-middle-class resident.  The station is depicted in Figure 20 below. 

Figure 20

       The influx of new residents created a need for community facilities, such as churches, schools, and a social center.  A small Presbyterian church was erected in 1908 on a lot donated by the Baird Park Trust Co [(see picture below)].  Episcopal services were held at the Bairdstown Hall after 1911.  The second school in the area, Rose Hill School (now Huntington Drive School), was built at the west end of what is now El Sereno in 1909.  The third schoolhouse to be built in this area was the Lincoln School.  Architect Frederick Noonan designed the eight-room Mission-style building.  Built in 1911, it was located in Newton Park and later known as the Bairdstown School and the El Sereno School.  In 1910 the Los Angeles Military Academy was established by Mrs. Ida B. McKinnon at the southwest corner of Farmdale Avenue (Eastern) and Huntington Drive.  Architect for the dormitory was A.B. Benton.

[ABOVE: Los Angeles Military Academy that was in El Sereno. The address was 4800 Huntington Drive S. and covered 40 acres.Top: 1915 ad.  Bottom: 1898 photo.  Courtesy of]

[ABOVE: Members of the First Presbyterian Church of El Sereno pose for a group portrait outside the church, located on what is now called Locke Avenue. LAPL]

       A Social Center, which met at the Lincoln School Auditorium, was established in 1911.  This social center was named the Bairdstown Social Center, Farmdale Social Center, and Lincoln Social Center respectively within the first five years of its existence, indicating that the community was in search of an identity.  The Bairdstown Improvement Association, formed that year, also met at the Lincoln School Auditorium.  A community library was established in 1915, but a permanent library building would not be erected until 1959 [see 1950's for more info and pics].

[The Bairdstown Post Office, which opened July 7, 1904 and became a Los Angeles station September 30, 1914.
Bairdstown, which contained 2,176 acres, was annexed to Los Angeles in 1915 and became El Sereno.  LAPL]

[The caption photo above reads: The commercial center of El Sereno around 1905 was the Bairdstown grocery and post office on the corner of Huntington Drive, North, and El Sereno Avenue.  Tickets for a ride on the Pacific Electric Railway, which ran along Huntington Drive, could be purchased here.  Store was operated by Llewellyn Baird, brother of pioneer real estate developer George Baird.  Llewellyn Baird, his wife Abbie and daughter Grace stand under sign.  Picture above was loaned to Dr. Don Newman, local historian, by Grace Baird Nutsch, who resides today in Canoga Park. (Third in a series).] 

       Llewellyn Baird, a brother of early subdividers, was a booster for this area.  He was able to attract commercial and industrial concerns to the community.  The Blomquist and Lindquist Nursery opened to supply the local residents with trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers.  The California Metal Enameling Company and the Dillingham Printing Company built large brick factories in Bairdstown providing modest local employment opportunities.  The main commercial block with a grocery, meat market, and general store/post office was established within a few years of the first central subdivision in 1903.

[Advertisement for Calfornia Metal Enameling Co., located in Bairdstown (El Sereno). I have always wondered if the El Cameo Theatre got it's name from Calfornia Metal Enameling Co., which was also known by the abbreviation CAMEO.  It could just be coincidence, but it keeps us wondering...
For more information on this historic Bairdstown business visit

California Metal Enameling Company, Bairdstown, CA

The California Metal Enameling Company that existed in El Sereno (then called Bairdstown).  It was located near the northwest corner of El Sereno Ave and Huntington Drive.  It operated from the early 1900's up until the 1920's.  

Today, a lot of the enameled advertising signs are collectables.

A warm thanks to Louis Salcido for contributing to this post.

News clip courtesy of Louis Salcido

News clip courtesy of Louis Salcido

This enameled sign sold for over $1000.00 at auction. Photo courtesy of Louis Salcido

To view previously featured Picture of the Month, visit our Picture of the Month archives.

[BELOW: Unique picture of early El Sereno, looking east along Huntington Drive.  The lone tree in the center
of the photo is the approximate corner of Huntington Drive and Eastern Ave.  Bairdstown Post Office can be seen opposite the tree.  Only picture that shows the entire length of Huntington Dr. between late 1890 and early 1900s.  Robert Lerner/CSULA archives.]

       From 1900-1915 the area that later became El Sereno did not have a unified identity.  There was no coordinated plan for the community as a whole.  Subdivisions were platted haphazardly by each property owner, resulting in four distinct neighborhoods, each with its own school as a focal point.  Known as Rose Hill, Bairdstown, Farmdale, and Sierra Vista, they were grouped together under the name "Bairdstown" for lack of a better name.  Since there were only a few commercial amenities, residents would travel to Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights, Alhambra, or South Pasadena for many of their basic needs.  A true sense of community did not develop in the area until after the annexation to Los Angeles in 1915.

[ABOVE: Postcard of Sierra Park, now known as El Sereno. Street in the background is Huntington Drive.  ca 1912.]

Los Angeles Annexation and Community Establishment Period (1912-1929)

      The Short Line Villa Tract was annexed to the City of Los Angeles as part of The Arroyo Seco Annexation on February 9, 1912.  The tracts are depicted in Figures 21 and Figure 22.  This annexation also included the Farmdale, Yorba and Paige Tract, Grider and Hamilton's Rose Hill Tract adjacent to Monterey Road and the Pasadena Villa Tract, a local subdivision that extended south from the Arroyo Seco.  Designed in the Craftsman style, the Sierra Vista School was built in the Short Line Villa Tract in 1913, shortly after annexation.  The school is depicted in Figure 23 below.  The funds for construction came from the Los Angeles City school system.

Figure 23

      Soon after Bairdstown was annexed to the City of Los Angeles on June 10, 1915, the Bairdstown Improvement Association changed its name to the Northeast Los Angeles Improvement Association (1916).  One year later (1917), the name of Bairdstown was changed to "El Sereno" meaning serene-quiet, unruffled place.  With Annexation to Los Angeles, El Sereno's population began to grow, resulting in the establishment of many community facilities.  During the 1920s, churches, theaters, and banks were built.  Schools were expanded.  Many new middle-class subdivisions in Period Revival styles were built.

[El Sereno, originally named Bairdstown after the area's primary real estate agent and resident, George Baird, was laid out along what is presently Huntington Drive.  Huntington Drive was the route of the second Pacific Electric line from Los Angeles to Pasadena.  Shortly after its name changed in 1915, El Sereno was annexed to the City of Los Angeles.]

The historical information presented in the paragraph above came from the historic context statement
The Northeast Los Angeles Subregional Planning Area, located in the Reference section.]

[Links to several sites with map of areas annexed into the City of Los Angeles:]
Annex Map 1   Annex Map 2  Annex Map 3

Maps below show the annexation of the Arroyo Seco Addition on Feb 9, 1912 and the Bairdstown Addition in June 10, 1915. Most of the Arroyo Seco Addition area above the Bairdstown Addition was originally part of Rancho Rosa de Castilla, as can be seen in the 1858 map made by U.S. Surveyor General by Henry Hancock.

1858 map made by U.S. Surveyor General by Henry Hancock 
[Map of El Sereno 1922.  Eastern Ave used to be called El Sereno Ave ALL THE WAY to Alhambra Ave (Now Valley Blvd).  To see and zoom into map click on Link:Online Archive of CA- Maps Of Los Angeles]

      A small Catholic Chapel was established in El Sereno in 1921.  By 1926, the parish had grown large enough to establish a small frame church at 3728 Rosemead Avenue.  A new Presbyterian church was built in 1923 at Portola Avenue and Navarro Street.  One of the two lots upon which the church was built was donated by the Janss Co., the other being purchased from them.  The architect for this Mission Revival-style church was Henry Pierce.  In 1928, the El Sereno Evangelical Lutheran Church, designed by architect Walter Hagedohm, was dedicated.  Services, previously held at the Cameo Theater, now moved to the new building at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Twining Street.

[el Cameo, Based on the movie that is playing, this is 1971 (courtesy of] 

[The Historical Cameo Theater, now a renovated $.99 store, along with stores and offices.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Jose Huizar.]

[A few more photos of Cameo (later becomes El Cameo) Theatre.  Seen here before it was remodeled.]



       Two new theaters provided local entertainment.  A one-story theatre and brick store building, erected on Huntington Drive in 1922,  was designed by architect A. Godfrey Bailey.  The Cameo Theatre, along with stores and offices, was built in 1924, with J.T. Payne as the architect.  Young families with growing children required more classroom space.  The El Sereno School was enlarged in 1924 by the architectural firm of Monaco & Bordeaux.  An addition to the Farmdale School was also built that same year.  A final statement of civic cohesion and local pride was the fire station and municipal building.  Built in 1927, it was located on the northwest corner of Rosemead Avenue and Huntington Drive.

[Some picks of the old Fire Station No. 47 with crew and last photo is of the new location and building for Fire Station No. 47 in El Sereno.  Click on pics to enlarge.]

      Engine Company No 47 4927 Huntington Drive North, 1977           
      [Engine Company No. 47                                                    
       4927 Huntington Drive North 1977]                           [Source- L.A. Fire Department Historical Archives]

[Above: Barrio Action now occupies the location of the old Fire Station No. 47. 
It also the location for Councilman Jose Huizar's El Sereno Office.]

       A branch of the Bank of Alhambra, designed by architect Lester Squire, was built at 4900 Huntington Drive in 1924 to serve the needs of depositors in the area of primary residential development.  This development was centered along Huntington Drive between Collis Avenue and Farnsworth Avenues from the hills on the north to Gambier/Allen street on the south as depicted in Figure 24.  Other areas of concentrated development were the Rose Hill/Omaha Heights areas adjacent to Lincoln Heights and the Sierra Vista area.  A one-block-deep development strip on the north side of Huntington Drive tied Sierra Vista to central El Sereno.
       Clubs and organizations also developed in El Sereno.  By the mid-1920s, the Masons, Eastern Star, Knights of Columbus, El Sereno Athletic Club, Odd Fellows, and Garfield Study Club (founded 1924) were providing opportunities for social interaction and philanthropy.  The Van Horne Improvement Association was holding meetings at the El Sereno School while the El Sereno-Farmdale Improvement Association held its meetings at the Farmdale School.

Depression Years (1930-1938)
        The economic downturn was felt in El Sereno, where no subdivisions were recorded from 1930 to 1939.  A new All Saints Catholic Church, completed in 1931, was a major undertaking for El Sereno's Catholic residents.  This large Mission-style-church required large donations from its parishioners, as Catholics were a very small minority in the community.   The majority of El Sereno's residents were Protestants from Northern European backgrounds.
       This decade also saw the building of the first high school in El Sereno.  El Sereno High School was built in 1936 on Eastern Avenue on the site of the old Farmdale School.  The old school house, minus its tower, was moved to the back of the lot, to be used as classroom space for woodworking.  In 1937, the name of the high school was changed to Wilson High School.

[ABOVE: Because the heavy bell had a bad habit of ringing mysteriously in the dead of night, the belfry of the old Farmdale School, originally known as Bairdstown School, at 2911 Eastern Avenue, is being torn down.  It was later discovered that some boys had ran a wire and tolled the bell after dark. Date 1937, LAPL collection]

        Physically separated  from the rest of the town, the Sierra Vista neighborhood considered itself a separate community until the late 1930s.  Evidence of this sense of community was the Sierra Vista Community Church on Maycrest Avenue, the only local church not located in central El Sereno.  The  neighborhood, anchored by the Sierra Vista School, expanded westward from the Short Line Villa Tract.  The separate community identity was also engendered by the Sierra Vista Pacific Electric Railway Station, which served the community.

 Wartime Boom and Growth (1939-1945)

       El Sereno's population rose markedly as the country prepared for the war. Due to the rationing of gas and rubber, communities along the Pacific Electric routes received the majority of new residents who came to work at the aircraft and munitions factories in Los Angeles.  El Sereno experienced major industrial growth during these years.  Many of the families who moved here during these years were Italian-American.
      The rise in population lead to the construction of the El Sereno Theatre, the third such establishment in the community.  Built in 1940 at 3355 N. Eastern Avenue, the structural engineer was William Bostock.

[That third El Sereno theatre was to become our historic Mazatlan Theatre pictured below.
It is still in use today, functioning as a site for social and community events.]



The El Sereno Historical Society Thanks All Those Who Did What They Could To Help Save the Mazatlan from being Auctioned.  Though the future looks bleak for the historic building, we will be submitting a request to the City to have historic Mazatlan Theatre preserved as a historic gem of our community.  

Help us preserve our Community's last Theatre by Visiting MyHistoricLA and second the idea of having our last theatre preserved as a historic building.  

Thank you and please spread the word to everyone you can.

 Post-War Period (1946-Present)

     Restrictive covenants had prevented Mexican-American families who lived in the adjacent communities of Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights from purchasing homes in El Sereno.  After restrictions were lifted by a 1948 Supreme Court decision (Shelley v. Kraemer), many Mexican-American families moved to El Sereno.  The demand for housing after World War II was satisfied by the construction of new neighborhoods in the southern end of El Sereno.


El Sereno: (1940s-Present)
Events, Pictures, and I

The following information has been carefully gathered via research and hard-work.  Everything posted here-after is historically accurate and verified.  Anyone who has historical photos or information can share their knowledge with us so we can both gather more historical data and share it with the community.  By continuing to add historical facts and information about El Sereno's history, we hope to serve as an informational and empowerment vehicle for our community.  Thank you and enjoy.


 El Sereno and the City During WWII

Typifying the 2,300 volunteer members of the Street Light Blackout organization which, was disbanded May 20, 1945 is Leonard Hanson (Commercial), who has served since its inception in 1941, shortly after Pearl Harbor. During three of the six citywide blackouts, Mr. Hanson pulled the street light switch at the corner of Kendall Avenue and Berkshire Drive in the El Sereno District.

The city’s oldest volunteer defense organization born of World War II passed out of existence May 20, 1945 when Street Light Blackout activities were brought to an end by official proclamation of Mayor Fletcher Bowron.



The photo was taken in El Sereno and is of my great aunt Doris (who recently passed away) and her daughter Suzie.  Suzie says this picture made it into the newspaper and I can see why.  Snow in El Sereno? El Sereno, circa 1949. Courtesy of

 Pacific Electric interurban no. 1111 rolls through a winter wonderland on the Oak Knoll Line at Old

Pacific Electric interurban no. 1111 rolls through a winter wonderland on the Oak Knoll Line at Old Mill Road in San Marino on January 11, 1949.  Harold F. Stewart Photo, Stan Kistler Collection (Confirms the above picture of snow in El Sereno!)

Pacific Electric Railway Echo Park Ave Line c.1949 (photo taken on Cerro Gordo St. courtesy of Tom Wetzel)--(Another confirmation of snow in L.A.!!)



Franky Moline, 8, and Gary D. Norsworthy, 8, sit dejectedly on September 11, 1950 awaiting the opening of El Sereno School. Click on picture to enlarge.

     Rose Hill Courts
    (Work in Progress)

         Although the Rose Hill Courts public housing projects were built in 1942, within the community of El Sereno, it is included in the 1950's section because in 1955 the majority of what was known as the Rose Hill area was redistricted from what then District 13 (Lincoln Heights/El Sereno) to District 14 (Eagle Rock/Highland Park).   Only a very small part of the Rose Hill area was left out of the Rose Hill redistricting, basically the Rose Hill Public Housing Projects and the few streets around the projects.  From that point forward, only this area became known Rose Hill- basically the area of the Rose Hill Courts Housing Projects.  The projects created a fear among the wealthy Rose Hill homeowners; fearing that a large numbers of minorities would be attracted to this area by the housing projects.  Soon after, during the redistricting year of 1952, a large area of what was known as Rose Hill was moved from District 13 (Lincoln Heights/El Sereno)
     to District 14 (Eagle Rock/Highland Park). 

    Rose Hill, as this area of El Sereno is nick-named, came to signify only the Rose Hill Courts Housing Projects and the nearby Rose Hill Park, in the community of El Sereno.  This area has retained this label ever since, the other parts of what was known as Rose Hill(s) were renamed Montecito Heights and Monterey Hills.  We have included information about Rose Hill before it was moved to District 14 in order to provide background information on Rose Hill/Rose Hill Courts.  (See Wikipedia District 14 and LA City Clerk CD Maps)

          The following information is courtesy of the Online Archive of California: Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles Photographs Collection-Administrative History.  Any additional information added to the Administrative History section will be shown in purple font.  (Link to Online Archive of California)

           During the Depression era, the City of Los Angeles was in the throes of a severe housing crisis. The need for affordable and decent housing was acute, as overcrowding was common, and deteriorated and substandard housing were widespread. Such urban conditions were not limited to Los Angeles, causing concern in cities across the nation.

            In response to this crisis, the Roosevelt administration established the United States Housing Authority in 1937 to develop low-cost public housing which sought to alleviate overcrowding in inner cities and replace deteriorated housing in depressed areas. Soon thereafter in 1938, the City of Los Angeles established its own local program, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA). 
            Under the 1937 Federal Housing Act, HACLA constructed ten (10) public housing projects in Los Angeles: Aliso Village, Avalon Gardens, Estrada Courts, Hacienda Village, Pico Gardens, Pueblo del Rio, Ramona Gardens, Rancho San Pedro, Rose Hill Courts, and William Mead Homes. 
           The Rose Hill Courts Public Housing Project was built in the community of El Sereno, with 100 public housing units completed in 1942.
      The Rose Hill Courts public housing projects were planned to include 2200 additional housing units.  The Rose Hill Courts public housing extension project began in 1951, but was quickly opposed by residents of El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, and Montecito Heights (then known as Rose Hills).  The Extension Project was eventually canceled and only the 100 units remained.  The Rose Hill Courts housing projects were scheduled to expand over several community boundaries.  This is the reason why some photographs state that Rose Hill Courts public housing projects are located near El Sereno, when the actual 100 units have always been with the community of El Sereno.  

    A Christmas pinata party for the children on December 13, 1948, at the Rose Hill Courts Housing Proj  

    A Christmas piñata party for the children on December 13, 1948, at the Rose Hill Courts Housing Project, located at Montecito Drive and Sardonyx Street in the El Sereno area of Los Angeles. (LAPL)                                           

     A Christmas pinata party for the children on December 13, 1948, at the Rose Hill Courts Housing Proj


    A Christmas piñata party for the children on December 13, 1948, at the Rose Hill Courts Housing Project, located at Montecito Drive and Sardonyx Street in the El Sereno area of Los Angeles. (LAPL)

    A Christmas pinata party for the children, with Santa Claus present, at the Rose Hill Courts Housing

    A Christmas piñata party for the children, with Santa Claus present, at the Rose Hill Courts Housing Project, located at Montecito Drive and Sardonyx Street in the El Sereno area of Los Angeles. The project provided housing for war workers during World War II. Photo date: December 13, 1948. (LAPL)

          The outbreak of World War II boosted defense-related manufacturing in Southern California and drew a multitude of unemployed workers to the surrounding areas. This created a shift in Los Angeles housing needs from sheltering the poor to housing defense workers, military families and veterans. Permanent public war housing projects were constructed and managed by HACLA, including Channel Heights, Dana Strand Village, Normont Terrace, Portsmouth Homes, and Wilmington Hall Cottages. Many temporary public war housing projects were also established, such as Banning Homes, Corregidor Park, Imperial Courts, and Jordan Downs. Finally, projects like Basilone Homes, Keppler Grove and Rodger Young Village were constructed specifically to house war veterans.

          Public housing construction continued post-war under the 1949 Federal Housing Act. In Los Angeles this meant the development of Mar Vista Gardens, Nickerson Gardens, San Fernando Gardens, and extensions to several previously existing housing projects.

          Rose Hill Courts was one of the public housing projects outlined to have a large extension added to the 100 housing units already in existence.  Below are several photographs showing the planned extension area and models/architectural drawings of what the Rose Hill Courts extension housing units would have looked liked.
    Description of Photos, # 1-4: Rose Hill landscape in Los Angeles, California.The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles developed the Rose Hill Courts public housing development on this site, which was completed in June 1942. It consisted of 100 units on 5.23 acres. (Mercury Street off N. Huntington Drive).
    #5: Photograph of woman walking along Los Angeles sidewalk. Various housing structures are pictured in the background. Possibly around Rose Hill area.  Sign on lower right reads "Mercury" and "Project" Date:1940s

    #6: Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles officials standing in front of sign advertising Rose Hill Courts, a public housing development in Los Angeles. This project was part of the Low Rent Housing Program of the U. S. Housing Authority. 1940s
    #7: Rose Hill Model-1940s

    #8: Architectural drawing of the Rose Hill Courts project, designed by architects William Allen and W. George Lutzi.  Located in Los Angeles,(Mercury St off N.Huntington Dr). Constructed under the 1937 Housing Act, its 100 units were completed in June 1942.

    #9: Photograph of an architectural drawing of the Rose Hill Courts Extension project. William Allen and W. George Lutzi were the architects for this public housing project, which was eventually canceled before construction began. Date:1951, Oct 17.
    #10:Photograph of an architectural drawing of the Rose Hill Courts Extension project. This public housing project was eventually canceled before construction began. Pictured here are exterior and interior views of a four bedroom row house. Date:1951

    #11: Pictured here is the floor plans for a 4 bedroom row house. Architectural drawing of the Rose Hill Courts Ext project. William Allen and W. George Lutzi were the architects for this public housing project, canceled before construction began. Date:1951, Oct.17.

           However, signs of discord between public housing advocates and members of the real estate industry were evident and growing stronger with the completion of each new project. In an effort to curtail the growth of public housing, public housing opponents painted it as 'creeping socialism' and 'one step this side of Communism' in local media and public meetings. During the McCarthy era, this strategy proved extremely effective. Several housing project developments, including Elysian Park Heights (Chavez Ravine), were canceled and employees of HACLA, such as Frank Wilkinson, were labeled as Communists, suspended and eventually fired.

    #12: Grading equipment at work in the streets on January 16, 1952, during the construction of the Rose Hill Courts Housing Project (Extension), located at Montecito Drive and Sardonyx Street near the El Sereno area of Los Angeles. The project provided housing for war workers during World War II. (LAPL)

    #13: Some 200 residents of the El Sereno area, including many children, staged a demonstration May 17, 1952, against the $110,000,000 Los Angeles public housing program, Proposition B on the June 3 ballot. The demonstrators, clad in garden clothes and carrying hoes and rakes, called themselves "The Grass Roots Real Estate Lobby." (LAPL)

    #14-17: El Sereno Residents Protest against building of Rose Hill Courts Extension project.  Children join housing demonstration -- El Sereno District, 17 May 1952.
    (USC Digital Library)

           With the decline of pubic housing in the 1950s, Los Angeles began a shift, and an eventual separation, of public housing from urban redevelopment. The City experienced a move from community development to corporate development, a move which has significantly shaped its urban landscape of today.

    END OF
    Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles Photographs Collection-Administrative History***

          The following images and text are courtesy of USC Digital Library.  Although photos are out of sequence with the text provided (or it may not be the complete set of photos), we have presented here the original photos/text in the same way they were presented online.  To view photos and text source, visit the link: USC DIGITAL LIBRARY.

           The text below provides examples of the fears the wealthy homeowners living on Rose Hill felt towards the building of the Rose Hill Projects Extension (mainly fear of minorities flooding into the area and the depreciation of [their] property values).
    11 images. Civil war on housing, 06 January 1952. C. R. Drake (Secretary); H.J.F. Hanemann (Chairman of Monterey Woods Improvement Association); Rose Hill Extension Project.
    Caption slip reads: "Photographer: Olmo. Reporter: White. Assignment: Civil war (housing). 18 & 17: Pan shot; (related to situation covered in 
     shots 8 & 10). #17: Foreground, below the $46,000 home estate (2 acres) of Mrs. Rae Dice Trumbull. rose Hill Extension project runs up to near side of house, then goes around back (back is to your right), then up along far side of house and on up the hill. #18: To left: Rose Hill Extension project cuts behind these $20,000 to $25,000 houses, on ridge; owners say project plans already have depreciated home values to extent of $750,000 total over the whole project. 3: Powerline, toward left near top of hill, marks boundary of project where it cuts behind the houses on the ridge, just mentioned. 20, L to R: C.R. Drake, secretary and H. J. F. Hanemann, chairman, of Monterey Woods Improvement Association, discussing encroachment of Rose Hill Extension project on their neighborhood, decreasing property values $750,000 in area. 8-10: Foreground, the $46,000 home estate of Mrs. Rae Dice Trumbull. Rose Hill Extension housing project runs up to far side of house, goes around back, then along near side, leaving it almost surrounded by planned project structures. Rows of buildings in far background are present 100 Rose Hill units, now to be expanded to 2100 more covering these vacant hills. 13 & 14: Close-up of some of the 90 shacks to be removed to make way for Rose Hill Extension project. 15 & 16: Long shot of some of the 90 shacks to be removed on Rose Hill Extension project. (Shacks in lower right foreground). Critics say small number of 'slums' do not support Housing Authority claims that the 2100 housing unit project is 'slum clearance', stressing that 85% of project area is vacant land".




           The Rose Hill Courts public housing projects did not become associated with the Community
    of El Sereno until 1955. The wealthy (white) homeowners feared that the low cost housing units would mainly attract the undesirable minorities (Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and African-Americans).  They feared the influx of minorities would result in more crimes being committed in and around the area, which would lead to a depreciation of their home and property values.  In a rather racist response and to appease the fears of the wealthy homeowners living atop and around Rose Hill (Lincoln Heights/Montecito Heights), only the Rose Hill Courts portion was not moved from District 13(Lincoln Heights/El Sereno) to District 14(Eagle Rock/Highland Park).  The Rose Hill Public Housing Projects and the immediate surrounding area was left out of the redistricting, which makes sense since the area has always been a part of the El Sereno Community. 

          In later years, the redistricting process has switched the numbers a Council District is associated with, the areas it represents, and the communities represented within each council district.  But the Rose Hill Courts, and the immediate area around the courts, have always been seen as part of the El Sereno community.   Several times during redistricting years, the process of lumping Rose Hill Courts with El Sereno have solidified this view, to the point where anytime El Sereno can potentially be moved to another district, the Rose Hill Courts area is sure to be included as part of the El Sereno community.

    The Rose Hill portion of El Sereno consisted of Rose Hill Park, Rose Hill Courts public housing projects, and the Rose Hill Recreation Center  (See Wikipedia District 14 History and L.A. Times April 3, 1955 Article, and City Clerk CD Maps)
    . The L.A. Times article has a mistake, spelling Rose Hills instead of Rose Hill; a typo, as all the information provided above can attest.

    ********End Of El Sereno's Rosehill*******

    Some well-known El Sereno businesses in the 1950s 

    CAMEO Theatre, 1954

    Besh's Department Store, 1954

    DWP Building on Eastern Avenue and Converse Street
    (Click on photos to read more about DWP Building)

    El Sereno Branch Library-Groundbreaking Day
    Councilman Ernest Debs breaks ground for new $67,797 branch library at El Sereno. Helping are left to right, Harold L. Hamill, City Librarian, and A. Parisi, school principal".  26 May 1958.

    El Sereno Branch Library-Groundbreaking and Opening Day
    Below is a montage of photos of the original El Sereno Branch Library, from

    artist concept, site location, groundbreaking, to opening day and more (LAPL).
    El Sereno Branch Library

    Storefront view of the exterior of El Sereno Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Branch rented space in this brick building. (Used prior to El Sereno's Branch Library being built) [LAPL].

    El Sereno’s University: Cal State LA

    Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles) was created on July 2, 1947 with the passage of Assembly Bill 586. It was the first state college to be established in California since 1913 and was known as Los Angeles State College. The founding of Cal State LA was spurred by returning World War II veterans who could not find space in an already crowded southern branch of the University of California, at the time Southern California’s only four-year public college.

    Cal State L.A. held its first classes for 136 students on September 1947, on the Vermont campus of the Los Angeles City Junior College. In June 1948, seven students, all of them transfers from other colleges and universities, made up the first graduating class.

    From 1949, the student body increased at the rate of 1,000 a year. With the fifties came an urgent need to establish a permanent home for Cal State L.A. That site, the former Rancho Rosa Castilla (today El Sereno), a 100-acre hilltop in northeast Los Angeles, hosted its first classes on February 6, 1956, in temporary bungalows. 

    Below is a collection of photos depicting the El Sereno hills before, during, and after they were leveled to construct Cal State LA.  Also included are early architectural models of Cal State LA.
    1981-CSULA main drive through campus is renamed from Western Arterial Road to Paseo Rancho Castilla, in honor of the Batz Family and as acknowledgement of the community's historic heritage with Rancho Rosa de Castilla.

    June 23, 1983-CSULA dedicates Batz Rose Garden in honor of the Batz Family and the Rancho Rosa de Castilla.  The site of the original adobe, one of the 36 original adobes built in California, lies somewhere beneath what is believed to be the present site of CSULA campus.
    Below are more images of Cal State LA during its growth from 1960s and 1970s.  
    Special thanks to historian Robert A. Lerner and California State University, Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, CSULA Collections, for the photos and information.


    Since its humble beginning in 1956, Cal State LA has been part of the El Sereno community. In fact, during the school’s expansion in the 1960s, many El Sereno homes and even a local elementary school (Gravois Elementary) were sacrificed in order to make way for the college. The institution was given University status in 1972.

    Articles below are from the El Sereno Star

    CSULA in El Sereno, 2013.  Click on articles for full pdf.

    Before adopting the Golden Eagle in 1980, Cal State LA's mascot was the Diablos.

    Special thanks to historian Robert A. Lerner and California State University, Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, CSULA Collections, for the photos and information.

    FROM WIKIPEDIA--Today, CSULA has a student body over 23,000 students primarily from the greater Los Angeles area, as well as more than 215,000 alumni. CSULA operates year round on the quarter system with four quarters, each 11 weeks in duration. In Fall 2016, CSULA will convert to the semester system as part of a system-wide conversion of all quarter campuses. CSULA is organized into eight colleges which house a total of four schools and approximately 50 academic departments, divisions and interdisciplinary programs offering a variety of majors. CSULA is home to the critically acclaimed Luckman Jazz-Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 11.

    The 175-acre (71 ha) hilltop campus core is home to the nation's first Charter College of Education, a NASA-funded SPACE program, Rockefeller-supported humanities center, a National Science Foundation funded environmental research center and other award-winning engineering programs. U.S. News has ranked CSULA's undergraduate business program as one of the best in the nation. The School of Nursing is considered to be one of the best in the state of California. CSULA offers 129 types of Bachelor's degrees, 112 different Master's degrees, 3 Doctoral degrees including a Ph.D. in special education, Doctor of Education (Ed.D), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and 22 teaching credentials (Wikipedia).

    Below is a collage of pictures showing Cal State LA today.

    To view past Pic of the Month, visit our Pic of the Month archives.

    Prehistoric El Sereno: Once A Coastal Area
    Here is an article from 1958 Scientific Journal featuring a unique fossil found in El Sereno by two boys on a shale embankment on Round Drive near Chester Street.  The fossil was so unique that it was sent to the Los Angeles County Museum and was classified as a new genus (Palaeosula) of the SULIDAE Family (medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish and similar prey)

    Here is a PDF of the article, the El Sereno fossil find starts on page 11.  Miocene Sulids In El Sereno

    Below are photos sent to us by Megan Kanipe, showing sea shells she found near her home in El Sereno in the 1980s.  Just more proof of El Sereno's prehistoric coastal history.


    Shades of L.A.: Mexican American Community.  Brothers Alfonso and Adan in a yard of a home in El Ser

    Shades of L.A.: Mexican American Community.  Brothers Alfonso and Adan in a yard of a home in El Sereno. 1960 [LAPL]

    Fire Station No.16
    moves to El Sereno, March 8, 1962

    Source- L.A. Fire Department Historical Archive

      Fire Station No. 16 2011 North Eastern Avenue  Circa 1988 Firefighter Duc Nguyen Firefighter Roberto        

    Photo of El Sereno's Wilson High School in the first stages of construction in 1968. 

    Sierra Park Elementary after fire, 1966.  
    All photos are courtesy of Susan Laney Pendleton Maxwell


    Below: Photos of Woodrow Wilson Senior High before moving to its new location on top of the hill
    on Multnomah Ave, late 1960s.


    The "new" Woodrow Wilson High School under construction...1969, El Sereno

    Below: Woodrow Wilson High School-El Sereno after completion, early 1970s.

    Classic Video of Woodrow Wilson High School-El Sereno
    Directed  by Art Garcia, Wilson class of 1988

    To view previously featured Picture of the Month, visit our Picture of the Month archives.


    Grand Opening of New Campus-1970


          Woodrow Wilson Senior High School has been making historic changes since the late 1930’s. Its door first opened in 1937 in what is now El Sereno Middle School located on Eastern Ave. Our original colors were Purple and Gold which changed to Blue and Gold in the 1950's. Classes were separated into winter and summer classes and took place in tents and old bungalows. The first gym was built right before World War II and was completed in 1942. The first class to graduate was in the winter of 1940 with a class of 40 students. Since opening its first doors, we have had a total of 12 principals Angus L. Cavanagh being our first and Ursula Rosin is acting principal.

    Map of Wilson High School

           In 1970, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School moved to its campus to the top of Multnomah St. On a clear day to the south, you can see Catalina Island and to the north Mt. Baldy. Once Wilson opened its new doors, it became the major landmark of El Sereno. Woodrow Wilson Senior High School was designed by California architect Paul Williams. It became the first 5 story high school in the district. It was originally designed to accomodate handicapped students, providing elevators and escalators in our buildings.

          Many people wonder why our mascot is a mule and what led us to that choice. There are actually two reasons, the first is that the original Wilson High School was built on a mule farm and the second is President Woodrow Wilson's association with the democratic party.  (Courtesy of Wilson High School- About Us Page ).   

    Below are a few of the
    many different Wilson High School Year Book covers.  Clicking on the year book will take you to the website where you can explore the year book pages.   Very cool flashback if you were attending Wilson at that time or MAYBE you just want to see what your parents, uncles, aunts, or friends were wearing and how they looked back in the day.

    The year books contain lots of cool photos of the staff, students, and the campus.  The year books prior to 1970 are especially cool because of the many photos showing El Sereno Middle School during the years it served as a high school.

      Wilson High School 1950 year book         Wilson High 1969 year book     Wilson High 1970 year book      Wilson High 1971 year book    Wilson High 1972 year book   
    Wilson High 1973 year book    Wilson High 1974 year book       Wilson High 1975 year book   Wilson High School 1976 year book    Wilson High 1978 year book    Wilson High School 1980 year book      Wilson High 1981 year book     Wilson High School 1982 year book        Wilson High 1983 year book      Wilson High 1984 year book    Wilson High 1987 year book        
    Here are a couple of sites with info about Wilson High School:
    L.A. Times 2011 article on Wilson High School's People Garden
    Website featuring
    Wilson High School's People Garden

    Woodrow Wilson High School:
    The Mighty Mules Legendary Football Era

    During the 1970s, Wilson’s football coach was none other than the legendary Vic Cuccia.  Coach Cuccia led the Mighty Mules to a 39-game winning streak, taking the team to win the City’s Section 3-A championship in 1975, 1976, and 1977.  
    That’s undefeated 3-A City Champions--three years in a row!

    Cuccia’s own son, Ron Cuccia, was the team’s quarterback for those three years, during which time he set a City and state record for passing, accounted for 145 touchdowns, and set a national record for total offense with 11,451 yards.   What’s more, the Mighty Mules went on to win the City championship title in 1978.   
         IncorrectGroup photo of El Sereno youth basketball player                                   L.A. City Councilman Art Snyder (at left) with Wilson High School with        trophies, 1976. Assemblyman Richard Alatorre is at far left.                                   Varsity jacket  at Quiet Cannon, 1976.                                                                          

        During his 22 years as the football coach (1956-1977), Vic Cuccia compiled a 151-42-6 record.  He was also a teacher, serving all his 44 teaching years at Wilson High School.  Coach Vic Cuccia, who grew up in El Sereno, was honored for his dedication and work on September 1999.  Wilson High School’s football stadium was renamed in his honor (the football field had already been dedicated in honor of Paul Barthel, a former Wilson teacher).   Coach Vic Cuccia passed away on January, 2008 at the age of 80.

    Above: On the left is legendary Wilson Mule QT Randy Garcia and on the right is the legendary WIlson Mules father and son team: Coach Vic Cuccia with son Ron Cuccia.  To read more about these Wilson High School personalities, click on each picture.

    To read the El Sereno Historical Society's article about Wilson High School's unbelievable football years, visit Picture of the Month : September 2012.

    W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W 

    El Sereno Middle School

    El Sereno Middle School has been in use Since 1915!!!
    The School, known then as El Sereno High School, is almost 100 years old.  
    It opened the same year that El Sereno was annexed into the City of Los Angeles.

    President Jimmy Carter spends some time in El Sereno, May 4-5, 1979.
    President Jimmy Carter spends some time in El Sereno, May 4th and 5th, 1979. He was a guest of Stephen and Gloria Rodriguez, at 2012 Ronda Dr. Mr. Rodriguez was a Community Development Project Coordinator. President Carter jogged to Wilson High School and took a jog around the track on the morning of May 5th, 1979.   L.A.Times article incorrectly states that the home President Carter stayed in is located in Lincoln Heights.  2012 Ronda Drive is located in El Sereno, as is Wilson High School.
    (See L.A. Times Article and Presidential daily log of events). Click on photo to enlarge (Work in progress)


    El Sereno's Annual Fourth of July Parade
    (29 Consecutive Years)

    El Sereno residents lined both sides of Eastern Avenue, as that community kicked off the Fourth of July celebration with a parade. A number of celebrities and dignitaries were on hand, July 2, 1983.(LAPL)

    Post Office Workers Demonstrate Against
    too Many Unrestrained Dogs

    Who Let the %&*@#** Dogs Out?!!! (Again)

    El Sereno has always been known as a Dog-Loving community.  But apparently, back in the 80's someone was training the dogs to go after our mail men/women.  It could also be that some residents forgot to secure their canines and these animals were just doing what comes natural: defending their territory and owners property.  Either way, it got so out of hand that the mail-service workers needed to show us just how big the problem was.  As for El Sereno today, dogs are still very popular, yet the problem of dogs running lose is not.  

    Postal workers who marched in protest of unrestrained dogs, some of which resulted in dog
    bites, pass one such dog atop a balcony on Eastern between El Sereno Park, and nearby post office. They encountered a few other dogs along their march. Photograph da [LAPL]

    Richard Nelson, a letter carrier for 5 years, and whom dogs have bitten twice, shows his scars at a rally and protest that postal workers held in El Sereno. Photograph dated August 20, 1989.

    About 100 postal workers came to rally and march from El Sereno Park to nearby post office to show the problem they're having with dog bites while they deliver the mail. Several carriers have suffered bites. This group is from the El Sereno area. Photograph [LAPL]


    (Work in Progress)


    El Sereno's Valley Bridge- Construction Begins
    (Work in Progress)

    El Sereno's Elephant Hills
    From the First Battle to Hills/Land Set Aside

    (Work in Progress)

    While we have shared some information about Elephant Hills and the fight to save the Hills from Developers, we truly do no justice to this long and hard-fought battles.  These battles to save Elephant Hills were waged by ordinary, yet determined, residents against seemingly unbeatable multi-partnership corporations.  Yet, as often is the case, when the community is able to unite, the seemingly unbeatable get beat.  We would like to share with you a few websites and blogs from which you can read everything and anything that has to do with Elephant Hills.  We would like to share a little history about Elephant Hills, courtesy of  This well written and informative introduction about what is Elephant Hills and why its so important to save it will inform you and allow you to understand what has been done and what still needs to be done in order to save this precious open space.  We recommend you explore and read the other informative post available on these blogs and websites.  

    Much needs to be said about those dedicated members of our community, as well as those in general who unselfishly dedicated their time and effort to make sure El Sereno's beautiful open landscape remains that way.  The El Sereno Historical Society extends their thanks and appreciation to these men and women; it's truly inspiring to see just how much can be achieved by those few who take on the responsibility of helping their community of 
    El Sereno.

    BELOW: History about Elephant Hills, courtesy of 

    3/15/07 Early Elephant Hills and how they survived
    Labels: 3/15/07 Start Here: Pre-Historic Elephant Hills

    Pre-historic Elephant Hills or The Land That Some Forgot

    Chapter 1

    It all started way back in the early 1900's when every city in the US so far was developed around a grid type system of streets and roads, Los Angeles was no exception, our nearsighted city planners were content with the standard method of laying out their city (platting) with a checkerboard of streets at right angles to each other paying no attention to the topography of the land they were platting over the top of, after all, Los Angeles looks as flat as Topeka Kansas on a map.
    The result was a system of streets that in some hilly locations was as useless as a squirt gun at a forest fire leaving select areas nearly impossible to develop. Over time most of these areas have been exploited by developers using innovative methods of hillside building and creative zoning variances (Google 'California mudslide' or 'La Conchita' or 'Eaton Crest' for examples) very few were left undeveloped and by the early 80's only a handful of topographically challenged sites remained, Elephant Hills is one of these sites,
    {There's FlatTop, Paradise Hill, Black Hawk Canyon and others but the daddy of 'em all is Elephant Hills, and as I write this entry there are evil men plotting the destruction of these hills, they have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will stoop to incredibly low tactics to push their project through and that they have but one concern, THE BOTTOM LINE.

    In 1978 when some rocket scientist decided that it would be a good thing to take this giant plot of undeveloped rolling hillsides affectionately known by locals as Elephant Hills<--- (note the 'S' these are hills, a range of them not one single, but a group of, hillS) and build condo's on them, the housing market was about to explode and venture capitalists across the ocean piled their money in stacks of hundreds of thousands and proceeded to make the first run at decimating the most precious natural resource Northeast Los Angeles has ever known, it's limited (even then) open space. The attempt was squashed almost before it got off the ground.
    The history of ownership and finding out who owned the parcels then finding where that person was, was a huge task. Remember each parcel had to be individually identified by parcel number then a written request for each one had to be submitted to the county assessor who then took anywhere from 3 to 18 weeks to return the results of their microfilm records search.
    If you were able to track the owners down you had to then convince them to sell their land. Life was more difficult for everyone before the advent of the computer. The overseas investors lost a bundle on the failed first attempt but their effort was just the beginning and sparked interest in the area and soon the man would be back, this time he would bring the CRA with him and boy, what a ride it was, The 65 million dollar Snyder-Allatorre blunder on the hill ...coming soon.

    Posted by MusicUCanSee at 1:26 PM

    Other Websites/Blogs we recommend about Elephant Hills:
    Save Elephant Hill Blog-spot: Babckground-Elephant Hills History
    NELA Lives: Elephant Hills-The Beginnings

    To view a video about the El Sereno community's concerns with the development of Elephant Hills in 2012 and get some new info about the history of Elelphant Hills, visit our Archives page; and read the Picture of the Month: July 2012. 
    Here is an update on the plight of "The Heavens"...a.k.a. Elephant Hill,
    published on April 7, 2016

    El Sereno's Ascot Park opens
    (Work in Progress)
    August 2006-Phase I is completed and now the residents of El Sereno (and the public) 
    have 40 acres of parkland to enjoy. (LA City Press Release)

    Brief History on Ascot Hills/Ascot Park 

    Below is an article published by the LA Times on El Sereno's Ascot Hills, April 9, 2016


    Sgt. Jose Regalado

    SGT Jose RegaladoWe've included an article from the L.A. Times honoring one of El Sereno's many fine sons (Wilson High School Alumnus) serving in the armed forces, SGT Jose Regalado; taken from us too early while proudly serving his country; 
    Mosul, Iraq- Nov. 12, 2008.

    L.A. Times 2008 article honoring one of El Sereno's finest (Wilson graduate)
    SGT Jose Regalado





    June 30, 2009
    Los Angeles City Council Officially Declares June 30 as 

    Click on link to view LA City Council File 09-1538 
    El Sereno Documentary
    by Local Film Student, Edward Maraga,
    Showcasing the Community and Local Businesses


    El Sereno's Valley Bridge is Completed

    El Sereno's 1st Annual Kite Festival
    Ascot Hills Park-El Sereno, CA--


    George Cabrera Sr.-- WWII Hero & Long-Time Resident
     (October 20, 1923 - April 4, 2012) 

          Long-time resident and WWII hero George Cabrera Sr. (89) passed away on  April 4th, 2012.  He died of complications of Alzheimer's at Alhambra  Community  Hospital.  George was born on October 20th, 1923 in El Paso,  Texas and was  the eldest of 12 children of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Cabrera.  An  honors graduate of  Cathedral High School in 1942, he went to Loyola  Maramount University where  he earned his B.A. degree.

        George joined the military from 1942 to 1945 where h he was a member of  the 8th Army Air Corp and earned the rank of Master Sergeant.  Cabrera was in  the 100th Bomber Group where he was a Radio Operator and Aerial Gunner.  He was involved in 35 Hell Missions over Germany and was involved in many  devastating bombing runs.

        After the war he started a Printing business in Alhambra where it stood for over 26 years, Sunset Printers.  George was a parishioner of All Saints Catholic Church in El Sereno for nearly 50 years.  He also served as the Chaplain for the American Legion Post No. 804 of East Los Angeles and El Sereno.  A father of 9 children, George Jr., Mary Louise, Daniel, David, Joel, Gabriel, Elsa, Marcela, and Christina.  Married for 59 years to wife Gloria.  George Cabrera Sr. will always be remembered as a brother, husband, father, grandfather, and cherished member of family and community.


    El Sereno's 2nd Annual Kite Festival
    Ascot Hills Park-El Sereno, CA--April 22, 2012

    El Sereno's Memorial Day Tribute-- May 26, 2012 
    Memorial Tribute Honoring Our Veterans

    NBC Video Clip noting El Sereno's Memorial Day Tribute to our Community's Veterans:
    El Sereno/NBC

    El Sereno's 53rd Independence Day Parade

    El Sereno Honors our Military Men and Women
    June 30th 2012, Begins at 2pm


    El Sereno
    Community Pride continues on strong...

    EL SERENO's 4th of July Fireworks Show 

    Looks like Councilmember Jose Huizar isn't just saying he loves El Sereno without truly showing his love.  He finally gave the community a spectacular fireworks show this past Saturday, June 29, 2013.  

     It was a fireworks show which has been long overdue and NEEDS to continue getting better.  We hope this is the start of new era for El Sereno and we hope this means change for the better is coming to our community.  

    Although Saturday was a big step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in our community.  



    Picture of the Month (March-2016)

           As part of our Mission to share the history of El Sereno with the community and public, every month we will present either a historic picture(s), documents, or current community event/issue.  
    The Picture of the Month will also give residents the opportunity to share historic photos and information with the rest of the El Sereno community.  Sharing and learning about El Sereno’s history is a community effort and we thank everyone who has contributed to the website.  
    (Have a photo to us at

    You Tube video of El Sereno's History
    By Melissa Dominguez, Woodrow Wilson High School Student

    Melissa Dominguez is a sophomore at Wilson High School.  Since Wilson High School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, students are required to do a personal project which begins in the 9th grade and  completed in the 10th grade.

    For her project Melissa chose El Sereno's History, her culminating product was a video.  Melissa acknowledges that "this wouldn't have been possible without your (ESHS) website and dedication to keeping El Sereno's history alive."  

    Furthermore she states, "the purpose of this video is to teach the residents of El Sereno to appreciate their community and to help others steer away from stereotypes that El Sereno is just a place of violence and gangs.

    We, ESHS, are proud to present Melissa's video as our Picture (Video) of the Month!

    To view previously featured Picture of the Month, visit our 
    Picture of the Month archives.

    Here is an article that was published by KCET.

    The article touches on our community's history, culture, and current issues impacting El Sereno today. February 29, 2016.

    1968 Legacy Plaque Unveiled

    Today (March 1, 2018) marks the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Walkouts that took place at 
    Wilson HS, 
    Lincoln HS, Roosevelt HS, Garfield HS, and Belmont HS.

    Wilson students were the first to walkout on March 1, 1968. Their actions kicked off what is now historically known as the Chicano Walkouts. These walkouts were the start of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.

    The historic plaque was unveiled today at the site of the old Wilson High School (present day El Sereno Middle School) in honor of those brave students who decided to take their educational future into their own hands.

    Thanks to our fellow partners who helped make this event possible:
    InnerCity Struggle, Wilson Mules Alumni Association, El Sereno Middle School, Wilson High School, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, and Councilmember Jose Huizar.

    The beautiful mural that will accompany the plaque will be completed by April 28,

    in time for Wilson 80th anniversary.

    Video courtesy of Councilmember Jose Huizar

    Great turn out at today's plaque unveiling at El Sereno Middle (formerly Wilson High School).
    March 1, 2018

    Close up of the historic plaque at the El Sereno Middle School auditorium.

    Members of the El Sereno Legacy Committee. 
    Thanks to everyone who put in the work and effort!!

    To view previously featured Picture of the Month, visit our Picture of the Month archives.

    Woodrow Wilson High School

    80th Anniversary Celebration

    Join our Celebration 
    Saturday April 28, 2018
    El Sereno Middle School
    10:00am - 11:30am
    Wilson High School
    11:00am - 1:00pm

    Begin your journey at Wilson's original location El Sereno Middle School where we will begin with coffee cake, entertainment, tours of the Old Farmdale School House, library and the campus. Then transition up the hill to WHS permanent location where we will honor 80 years of legacies, 80 years of building traditions, 80 years of learning, and 80 years of service to our community. 

    Let us never forget,
    “Once a Mule, Always a Mule”

    Old (Now El Sereno Middle School) and new Woodrow Wilson High School (Opened in 1970)

    We're El Sereno & Proud of it...

          From the Native Americans, to the first Spanish explorers; to the Mexican and European immigrants of later years; to the culturally diverse era of Japanese, Mexicans, Anglos, Italians, and Jews of not so long ago; from the families with 3rd and 4th generations of roots in the community; to the fresh immigrants seeking a place to settle down and set new ones; El Sereno continues to be a special place for today's hard-working newcomers.

           The ethnic make-up of El Sereno continues to be primarily that of immigrants from Mexico as well as many Mexican-American (Chicano/a) families.  That's not to say that other ethnic groups are not represented.  A good look around will reveal many Chinese, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, South-American, Vietnamese, Africa-American, and Anglo neighbors that together call El Sereno home (this is just to name a few, for there are many other ethnic groups that call El Sereno home). 

          The continual influx of immigrants adds a vibrant cultural layer that makes El Sereno unique amongst other neighboring communities and cities.  And whether you feel that the constant influx of immigrants is good or bad, in the end, it's what makes the community of El Sereno the special jewel to so many of us; accepting all for who they are. 

    A family portrait at a reunion and party to celebrate Edward's 86th birthday, in El Sereno, Los Angeles. Edward is in the center of the photo (Dated 1980). [LAPL] 

    Family members gathered for an engagement party at a restaurant in El Sereno. The sign reads, "Happy Engagement" 1996. [LAPL]  


    While El Sereno has usually been identified as a place for the everyday hard-working person, our community today is full of people working in different and diverse professions of our city; as diverse as the many different ethnic groups that live here.  Today you find that within El Sereno there are residents who are doctors, lawyers, business men/women, professional educators, 

    active military personnel, law enforcement professionals, artists, entrepreneurs, city/state 
    employees, factory workers, blue-collar workers, street vendors and hustlers who all call El 
    Sereno home.  El Sereno welcomes them all.  It's another of the many facts that makes and has 
    made El Sereno unique throughout its long historic existence.  El Sereno is special like that; it is 
    what it is.
    June 10, 2015-El Sereno's 100 year anniversary as an official community of the City of Los Angeles.

    Last of the Independent


    Map of El Sereno community today. Click to enlarge.



    We received an unexpected e-mail on April 19, 2012- from none other than Mr. George Casen himself, author of the historical document
    History of El Sereno
    .  Mr. Casen generously shared a copy of the original History of El Sereno document with us.  In doing so, Mr. Casen has provided the El Sereno Historical Society with the opportunity to present and share a completely new set of colorful maps and extra-clear photos (Figures 4-24) referenced in the document. 

    Mr. Casen's
    historical document gave the El Sereno Historical Society the solid foundation it needed in order to even have considered and begin the arduous task of researching, gathering, and organizing the historical information and photos presented on our website.  Mr. Casen's historical document was the base from which we were able to start our endeavor, both as a source of knowledge and as reference guide for further research.  Without Mr. Casen's History of El Sereno
    it would have been nearly impossible to have accomplished what we have so far.

    The El Sereno Historical Society sends its sincere appreciation and a heartfelt
    to Mr. Casen; both for his written-work and genuine generosity.

    We have put in the extra-hours needed, working into the night, in order to present Mr. Casen's updated historical document History of El Sereno
    on our website ASAP, complete with the colorful-maps and extra-clear photos of figures 4-24.  The updated
    History of El Sereno PDF (also located below) has also been uploaded and is now available for your convenience. 

    We hope you enjoy the maps and photos as much as we have.


    History of El Sereno
    Presented by the El Sereno Historical Society

           The historical facts presented on this website are from the History of El Sereno, as were presented by George Casen on April 18, 1994 to the El Sereno Coordinating Council (1769-1946).  The historical document History of El Sereno  is presented using the same words, illustrations, and facts contained in the historical document.  We have added other documents, maps, links, and pictures to enhance and better inform our readers about our community of El Sereno's long and unique history. Any material/text that has been supplemented to The History of El Sereno will be shown in purple color font and within brackets [  ]. 

           George Casen's historical document is available at the El Sereno Branch Library, as a reference item only.  We have also taken the initiative to provide you with this complete historical document in PDF format (History of El Sereno, by George Casen).  The PDF document will take a little time to download, please be patient. 

    Also for your enjoyment and to continue our commitment to inform and empower our readers, we are providing another rare historical document detailing the history of other neighboring north-east L.A.communities (text includes some facts on El Sereno).  The text is listed as The Northeast Los Angeles Subregional Planning Area--prepared by Historic Resources Group for Los Angeles Conservancy, and is also a reference only document at the Eagle rock Library.

          Although listed as a reference item at the Eagle Rock Branch Library, the librarians there were unaware of its existence until a member of our Historical Society, searching for further historical documents, asked to review it.  Unable to find it, the El Sereno Historical Society member was not deterred, and diligently researched for the reference document at the Central Library, found it, got a copy and Library File Number, and returned to Eagle Rock's Branch Library to share the finding. 

         Sharing historical information is important to the El Sereno Historical Society because it is the cornerstone to our mission: To inform and share history with all those who live within these unique communities that make up NELA (North-East L.A.
    ), and with the public in general.

         We hope you too will enjoy learning some history and historical facts about our neighboring communities.  Here is The Northeast Los Angeles Subregional Planning Area in PDF format. The download may be slow, please be patient.

    Another great contribution to the El Sereno's Historical Society's data base of information and pictures comes from Mr. Robert A. Lerner.  We made a concerted effort to contact Mr. Lerner and after many, many long hours of research, we were finally able to contact him.  Mr. Lerner's work and effort of gathering and preserving local history that had been over-looked or forgotten has been a extraoridinary breakthrough in our effort to learn more about the Historic Rancho Rosa de Castilla and the pioneering family that made it their home. 

    Mr. Lerner was fortunate enough to have met, befriended, and interviewed the Batz sisters, Esperanza and Marguerite.  Most of the pictures/information on Rancho Rosa de Castilla and the Batz family came from Mr. Lerner's research .  In fact, all of the pictures having to do with the Batz Family come directly from Mr. Lerner's research-archive.
     Mr. Lerner also interviewed many other informative figures whose families were part of the original settlers in what today is El Sereno.  

    We appreciate and thank Mr. Lerner for his great fore-sight in recording as much history as possible about Rancho Rosa de Castilla, the Batz Family and for his help in making sure the El Sereno Historical Society got this information.  

         Although we try our best to share the online websites for the location of maps, illustrations, and photos we have used, we are human and sometimes forget to either site the location or create a link directly to the website we used.  Please e-mail us requesting an link/update for any photo, map, or illustration.

    Other websites/location of City/Government reference material used:
      Office of the City Clerk--City of Los Angeles
              Councilman Jose Huizar Blog: El Sereno Day June 30, 2009
             LA City Clerk Council Files: El Sereno Day Approved

        The Los Angeles Public Library
             The El Sereno Branch Library--El Sereno Historic Collection of newspaper articles and documents
             Farmdale Schoolhouse Museum

         The set of historical facts and data were gathered by members of the El Sereno Historical Society and all the historical information gathered and documented here can be verified as historically true.  The El Sereno Historical Society makes the utmost effort to provide the readers with photos, files, and documents verifying the information, as well as providing links to other websites which contain historical information.  We have set and adhere to high standards of personal integrity to ensure we present our readers with authentic and verifiable historical data.  We pride ourselves on the high standards that we have set and welcome an open discourse of communication so the public is able to present and share any historical information they would like to see added to the History page.  We do require time to confirm and verify any historical data presented, and ask for patience and understanding from those presenting new information. 

    We also present this well researched article, written by John R. Chavez, which holds many little known facts and historic information about El Sereno's historic Rancho Rosa de Castilla.

    Other information that might interest you...
         The El Sereno Historical Society is also concerned about saving the historic homes, buildings and landmarks within our community.  To think that all of El Sereno's original historic adobes and ranch homes were not preserved for the future generations is tragic.  Many of the original churches and historic buildings have also been demolished or renovated to the point where they have lost there historic essence, an irreplaceable loss to the community.  Many of us who grew up in El Sereno remember these places and buildings, yet there destruction means we are unable to share them with our families and friends today. There are some projects being planned for the future.  Read more about them at About Us.

    Taking a critical look at the negative and unethical divisions that are being done to our community.  As part of our community outreach, we make it a point to share our concerns and opinions on issues affecting our El Sereno community which are  being done without community input and NOT for the greater good of El Sereno.  These issues affect homeowners, residents, and businesses in El Sereno.  Please take some time and read about what is going on in our community of El Sereno. Visit The Good, Bad, and Ugly for more information.

    The El Sereno Historical Society is looking for any historical pictures, news clips, or additional historical facts to update and improve the historical information presented on this site. You may Contact Us if you have anything you would like to share at

    Your contribution is greatly appreciated.
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