Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No. 214 - (Site of) Mt Carmel High School Building

Mt Carmel High School Building

(Site of) Mt Carmel High School Building
1934 – Barker & Ott
7011 South Hoover Street – map
Declared: 6/6/79

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


Anonymous said...

I graduated from this high school in 1969. I have many fond memories of my years at Mt.Carmel. It was so sad to learn when the school closed its doors in 1976. I believe the Carmelite order had no interest in keeping Mt.Carmel open. It was probably a financial decision. One has to wonder why other parochial schools in Los Angeles have thrived over the years. The Carmelites decided Crespi of Encino was a more financially thriving area than south central L.A.

Unknown said...

The alumni of the school have a really nice web site, especially considering that the place has been defunct for nearly 35 years! http://mtcarmelcrusaders.org The photo album under "Memory Lane" has lots of great images in it.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Hey, thanks a ton, Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

I would think the drop in enrollment from 600 to 276 had a little more to do with closing the place. Sounds like the alumni didn't support the place by sending their children to the place.
Rather than a financial decision it probably was an educational one. What kind of high school program can you run with 276 students?

selenesmom said...

The building was used for the filming of the Ramones film "Rock and Roll High School" in 1983 and blown up for the ending of the film.

Anonymous said...

That's true about "Rock and Roll High School" being filmed there for all exterior scenes, although I believe a few scenes were also shot at El Segundo High School as well as another school in Manhattan Beach. Many great memories of when that "cutting edge" film came out, hard to believe that's almost 35 years ago already and now considered very "old school," LOL!

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Anonymous, if your principal ever gives you trouble, if you want this to happen at your school, you just give ol' Screamin' Steve a call.

Anonymous said...

It's quite easy to see why the school closed. It's called 'white flight'. South Central LA was increasingly becoming a high crime area and as more poor people moved in, they probably couldn't afford the tuition to go there. Hence the student enrollment decline.

Just look at the photo link page Jennifer up above pointed out to and you'll see what I mean. The school's racial makeup had increasingly changed after 1967 - 1968 and was a sign of changing demographics.