Not your typical office building

articleimageOn the corner of Adams Boulevard and Gramercy Place sits a three-story, red brick Colonial Revival style building. Its six, strong, white columns and perfectly manicured lawn separate it from many of the other apartment buildings surrounding the area.

To an unknowing passer-by, the building may not seem to belong in the neighborhood. However, most residents know it as a historical and cultural monument and the current workplace of the LA84 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds youth sports programs in Southern California as the legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games.The house was built in 1910 when prominent Los Angeles lawyer Eugene Britt commissioned architect Alfred Rosenheim to build a $50,000 home for him and his family. The Britts lived there for about a decade before selling the house. It then had a series of owners before eventually coming into the hands of the LA84 Foundation.

Toward the end of the 1970s, the owner attempted to sell the house, but could not find a buyer because the house was named a cultural monument by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. This meant that nothing on the inside or outside could be changed.

Just around the same time, LA84, which was previously known as the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, was looking for a new space to house their offices and sports library collection, the largest in North America.

torchWhen the cultural monument status was removed in 1980 because of the owner’s petition, First Interstate Bank, one of LA84’s sources of funding, soon purchased the building. Restorations were made from 1982 until 1984 when the space began being used to entertain important guests leading up to the Olympic Games.

“When people first visit they are surprised at its beauty,” said Patrick Escobar, Vice President of Grants and Programs at LA84. “This would not happen in a typical building downtown.”

Escobar does not think the organization’s location is just a coincidence. There is a direct connection between sports and a sense of community, he said.

“Sport brings communities together,” Escobar said. “Sports rallies community members to work together for a common purpose. Healthy, successful communities have strong sports programs for their children.”

Since it began, LA84 has funded more than $214 million in youth sports programs, serving over 3 million youth. While activities do not take place at the offices on Adams Boulevard, the organization has funded programs throughout Southern California.

“There’s not another organization out there-at least in Southern California-that is about solely making kids play sports,” said Karen Goddy, Assistant Treasurer at LA84. She has worked there for almost 25 years.

Encouraging youth to be involved in sports can help them do better in school, have better self-esteem and stay out of trouble, according to Goddy. With the increase in technology in children’s lives, this is even more critical, she said.

LA84 may have inadvertently served the community in another way by buying and restoring the house.

britthousebackyardMany of the largest historic homes and most notable architectural gems in West Adams have not survived into the 21st century. Recent years have not attracted many buyers because the homes are incredibly spacious and are often on busy streets, according to Don Lynch, historian and co-author of “West Adams: Images of America.”

Churches and organizations such as LA84 are often the only buyers capable of purchasing these houses because of their financial assets and need for large spaces.

The Britt residence is one of the only mansions still standing on its block, which was once lined with extravagant homes.

“In a way, a lot of the churches have saved the houses in the neighborhood,” Lynch said. “They’ve had to alter them on the inside, but they’re still there.”

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