Spotlight: Historic Inglewood

One hundred and ten years ago this year, on February 8, 1908, Inglewood was officially incorporated as a city. The population was already 1,200, but that number would receive a bump by of all things, a natural disaster. The earthquake of 1920 attracted the curious who traveled here to survey the damage but stayed once they experienced our marvelous climate. For the next five years, Inglewood was the fastest growing city in the United States.

Today, while Inglewood continues to grow and change with an eye toward an ever-improving future, we remember and reflect on our city’s rich history with Anne Cheek LaRose, President of Inglewood Historic Preservation Alliance (IHPA). The IHPA’s mission is to identify and preserve the historic structures of Inglewood.  We asked Anne to tell us a little bit about a few of Inglewood’s significant historical places.

(Earliest known photo of the Adobe)

The Centinela Adobe, which is the Centinela Valley’s oldest residence, was built by Ygnacio Machado in 1834. Since then, farmers, ranchers, a Scotsman, and Inglewood’s founding father, Daniel Freeman, have lived in the structure. It is the oldest building in the area and has been called the “Birthplace of Inglewood”. We asked Anne about how development over the years has affected the historical site. “The Adobe was connected to Inglewood proper until the construction of the 405 freeway in 1964 cut it off. Now, to reach this Inglewood property, one must go through Los Angeles.

(1950’s era postcard depicting the back of the Adobe which is what one sees upon entering the Adobe Complex.)
Daniel Freeman Home (1888)
Also located on the property is Daniel Freeman’s 1887 Land Office from which all of the land from Marina del Rey down to Redondo Beach Boulevard, and from Van Ness Avenue to the Pacific Ocean, was sold. This land was the combined Rancho Sausal Redondo and Aguaje de la Centinela spanning roughly 25,000 acres. Carved out of this expanse were the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, parts of Los Angeles County as well as parts of the city of Los Angeles The Freeman home was built in 1888, to hold the family of five – Daniel, his two sons, his daughter Grace and his sister who came from Canada to care for the children after his wife died. Daniel was a well known Los Angeles businessman and a prominent figure in high society. The home was built to reflect his station.
The Moreton Bay Fig tree was planted in the front yard of the home that same year. Two of these trees originally flanked the home, but one was removed when the home was demolished in 1972.
(Our Moreton Bay Fig tree is 130 years old. Inglewood passed the Tree Preservation Ordinance in 2012.)
Moreton Bays Figs are rare with no more than three dozen from Balboa Park in San Diego to the most famous one in Santa Barbara. These trees are behemoths with sprawling canopies and giant above-ground roots, a feature of the tree.
(Anne Cheek LaRose standing among the tree’s signature roots)

Fox Theatre–1949, Academy (Theatre) Cathedral–1939, Miracle Theatre–1937: Twelve theaters were built in Inglewood between 1915 and 1949. Three of those four are The Fox, which was the last theatre in operation in Inglewood and closed in 1988. The Academy, which became a church in 1975 and the Miracle (originally the Ritz) which was purchased in 2016 and brought back to life as the Miracle Theatre. It now is a rental for stage productions and concerts.

(Fox Theater showing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Downtown Inglewood, 1954)
The Academy Theater
(The Academy Theater, a classic Art Moderne style structure, was originally designed to house the Academy Awards.)
The Ritz Theater
(Left: A group of girls buy tickets for a matinee double feature. Inglewood, 1938)

Inglewood’s past is rich with historical significance and these are just a few of Inglewood’s historic sites. We’ll be continuing our coverage of our pivotal past by featuring even more locations and structures, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned to our site!

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Inglewood Forward is a group of local residents, homeowners, business and city leaders dedicated to creating jobs and improving the quality of life for Inglewood city residents. Funding for this communication has been provided by Murphy’s Bowl LLC.

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