Tuesday, February 10, 2009
(Site of) Mt Carmel High School Building
1934 – Barker & Ott
7011 South Hoover Street – map
Construction began in the late spring of 1934 on this two-story, late Spanish Colonial Revival school building, designed by Merl Lee Barker and G. Lawrence Ott for the Missionary Society of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Carmelite Order of New York. It’s been gone going on nearly thirty years now, so if there are any Mt Carmel graduates out there, it’d be great to hear from you.
The thirty-four room structure, constructed of reinforced concrete, was the first school in Los Angeles built to new seismic standards following the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. Laurence J. Waller was the structural engineer, W.W. Petley got the general contracting gig, and the F.D. Reed Company handled the plumbing. The school’s size was 13,920 square feet, and it sported a stucco exterior.
The $85,000 to $100,000 building was dedicated on January 6, 1935. Rt Rev. John J. Cantwell, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and San Diego, laid the cornerstone and gave the dedicatory address. Father Flannagan gets credited with the school’s founding.
The Reverend Niles J. Gillen announced in April 1976 the all-boys school, operated by the Catholic Fathers of the Order of Mt Carmel, would close due to decreasing enrollment, down to 276 from more than 600 in the early 1960s. A group of parents organized a petition drive to convince the Chicago-based Carmelites to change their minds but to no avail. Plans even called for asking Pope Paul VI to intervene. And hopes the L.A. Archdiocese would take over the school never panned out. Mt Carmel shut down with the end of the school year on May 26.
As part of its Historic-Cultural landmarking, South Central’s Mt Carmel High School was called by the city, “an excellent example of Mission architecture housing a school which has made a significant contribution to the community.” It looks like the 1979 monumental status was conferred primarily to ward off the school’s destruction by the Parks and Recreation Department which had owned the building by that time.
I’ll admit I’m more than a bit sketchy about how the landmark eventually met its demise. The gym remained until a fire brought it down in 1983. By this time, though, the school building had already been demolished, maybe the previous year? Perhaps it had served as a senior center in its post-school years? In any event, the city’s Office of Historic Resources has no record of any demolition permit being issued. If you know anything, fill us in, please.
The sole picture is from the L.A. Department of City Panning’s website.
“School Constructions Ready To Be Launched” The Los Angeles Times; May 20, 1934, p. 21
“Catholics Today Will Dedicate New High School” The Los Angeles Times; Jan 6, 1935, p. 15
“Mt. Carmel High School to Close Doors in June” The Los Angeles Times; Apr 3, 1976, p. A27
Fanucchi, Kenneth “’It’s Too Late’ To Save School” The Los Angeles Times; Apr 18, 1976, p. CS1
Fanucchi, Kenneth “Parents Fight Mt. Carmel Closing” The Los Angeles Times; Apr 22, 1976, p. CS1
Up next: Bob’s Market