The LA84 Foundation is located in the historic Britt House, in the heart of Los Angeles’ Historic West Adams District. On the National Register of Historic Places, the house is over 100 years old. It is also available for certain event rentals. Learn more about the house’s history and architecture below.
Eugene Britt Residence (The Britt House)
2141 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles 90018
Alfred Rosenheim, Architect, 1910
When attorney Eugene Britt built his mansion in the fashionable West Adams neighborhood in 1910, he built a home which he considered to be a reflection of his station in life, something to reflect his achievements: solid, elegant, dignified and befitting of his profession. Britt was born in 1855 on a farm near Harrisonville, Missouri. In 1878, he was admitted to the bar in Harrisonville and shortly thereafter came to California. It was here he married Henrietta Biggerstaff.
Britt’s choice of an architect also reflected his taste and position. Architect Alfred Rosenheim, FAIA (Fellow of the American institute of Architects, to which he was elected in 1889) was educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in classic design. Rosenheim designed Los Angeles’ H.W. Hellman office building (where Britt has his law firm, Hunsaker and Britt), The Second Church of Christ Scientist, also on West Adams, as well as schools, prominent homes and other brick edifices.
Through the years, the Britt mansion has remained a landmark in Los Angeles worthy of note both architecturally and as a representative of a vanishing era. The house was one of the first to be designated as a Los Angeles Cultural Historical monument and is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The house is an excellent example of vintage Craftsman homes dating back to the 1905-1914 time period. The neighborhood is an early example of speculator-built tract housing, linked to the development of real estate and transportation in Los Angeles.
The land was once part of the vast Mexican land grant, Rancho Las Cienegas, awarded to Juanario Avila in 1823. In 1866, the Los Angeles County District Court divided Avila’s landholding among 13 people who claimed interest in the land.
The Arlington Heights tract, owned by Thomas Grey, was the first parcel of land to be subdivided for development in 1887. In the 1890’s a great surge of interest in Civil War memorabilia served as the catalyst for naming Arlington Avenue and the Arlington Heights Building Company, both named for Robert E. Lee’s Home “Arlington,” in Virginia.
Transportation played an important role in the settling of the area. The Pacific Electric Red Line ran along Blaine Street, where the Santa Monica Freeway is now, to downtown. Washington Boulevard had a horse car line as early as 1892, from downtown to Rosedale Cemetery, succeeded by an electric trolley in 1895. Adams Boulevard, Pico Boulevard and Arlington Avenue had electric trolleys in the 1890”s, facilitating access between housing development in the Arlington Heights area and employment downtown.
The Britts lived in the house for about 10 years – to 1920 when he retired and they moved to Seattle. At that time Abram K. and Deetta A. Detwiler bought the house. They lived there for 20 years. Mr. and Mrs. Detwiler died near the end of the Depression and the house went into trusteeship for the children, but there were not enough funds left to maintain the house so it was sold to Gladys I. Snyder around 1944. She lived there until 1982, when through the efforts of Peter Ueberroth, president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, First Interstate Bank purchased the house, restored to its original splendor, and created a sports museum and library.
In the summer of 1985, First Interstate Bank donated the building with its collection of memorabilia, books and film to the LA84 Foundation (formerly the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles). It now serves as the headquarters for the Foundation.
The Britt Mansion is a colonial revival design. Colonial revival is a copy of Georgian 100 years after the Georgian era. It was estimated to cost $40,000 to building 1910. It is situated on one and one half acres. Only the best materials were to be used in its construction. The exterior walls are all three bricks deep. All the outside terra cotta (sills, lintels, key-stones, ornamental panels, chimney caps, portico columns) were originally in cream white.
The house has two stories with an attic overall and a basement under the west half. Typically in these mansions the public spaces have everything situated on the ground floor, which is for guests. Builders stretched to make the money go as far as possible. They have just enough fine mahogany to make their impression and everything is painted woodwork. It makes the impression. That is why there is so little architectural detail upstairs.
The front door opens into a reception hall. The hall, the landings, threads and handrails of the stairs are all of tobacco mahogany. The trim was originally ivory enamel. The tobacco mahogany was used for door panels and wainscoting.
The chandelier and light fixture in the hall are originals. They have been cleaned and rewired. The original electrical buttons and plates were kept in place wherever possible.
The floors throughout the principal rooms on the first floor and the second-story main halls are oak. They were originally lighter in color, but due to stains were made darker.
The interior includes a large rectangular living room with an alcove at the north end. The alcove was originally a music room with a 10-inch raised platform, but two years after the house was built the Britts decided to lower the platform to the living room floor. The living room is now the Foundation’s Board Room. It is finished in Peruvian mahogany with paneled wainscoting.
The living room adjoins the main hall by means of sliding doors. The brass portieres are curtain rods. All of the doors in the room were changed to French doors in 1914 by Rosenheim for Mr. Britt.
Some of the fancy moldings on the ceiling are plaster. The wall-hung light figures are original.
The waiting room was originally Mr. Britt’s library. It is finished in selected quartered white oak, Flemish style with a fireplace and bookcases. The wall fixtures are original and are attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright. The wall covering is a bronze paper. That means that is has bronze pigment in it. It obviously was custom manufactured because it follows the outline of the doorways and bookcases.
The dining room, which is 17 feet by 23 feet, is finished in selected Tobasco mahogany. It is wainscoted door height and has beamed and paneled ceiling. It has a segmented bay window on the Gramercy Street side. The dining room is partially hand painted and partially stenciled. The variation in color is caused by the unstable nature of the paint that was used. The original chairs had fabric on them which matched the ceiling.
Learn more about renting the Britt House and its facilities here.