Though not a particularly remarkable structure in itself, the nameless building at 420 South Berendo Street exemplifies the scale of residential construction that filled Los Angeles’ inner suburbs following World War I. Completed in 1920, the property houses four two-bedroom apartments in a two-story building, served by a small garage at the rear of the lot. On the Berendo Street side, the apartments are set back by a set of stairs and a slightly tiered lawn.
The building sits near the center of the Schmidt Heights tract, a residential subdivision bounded by Third Street, Fifth Street, Catalina Street, and New Hampshire Avenue. Although it was opened to development around 1906, the neighborhood was only significantly populated in the late 1910s due to a citywide surge in apartment construction. Within several years, the Wilshire District had been filled with entire blocks of similar two-story structures.
During the past 50 years, most of the Schmidt Heights tract’s original buildings have been replaced by larger apartment complexes. The building on the right side of the present view was completed in 1962, while the obscured building on the left was built in 1967. Today, 420 South Berendo Street is the only early 20th-century building that remains on its block. Although the apartment structure retains many of its exterior details, its base and portico have been reclad with rocks, and a black security fence now surrounds the front lawn.
1. “For west end sites.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Feb. 1915. V1.
2. Frank H. Ayres Subdivisions. “Take your pick” Advertisement. Los Angeles Times. 28 Nov. 1920. V5.
3. “Houses, lots and lands.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Aug. 1909. V24.
4. McGibbon, Schmidt & McDonald. “Schmidt Heights Tract.” Advertisement. Los Angeles Times. 5 Jan. 1906. I13.
5. Zone Information and Map Access System (ZIMAS). City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning. http://zimas.lacity.org/.
Original photo: Dick Whittington Studio. “Photograph of home at 420 South Berendo Street, Los Angeles, CA, 1925 – DW-1925-10-29-43A~16.” Dick Whittington Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Library Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll170/id/74995.