Martha Benedict, who snapped the above photo, was curious about the history of the large Mediterranean-style building on the 2600 block of Griffin Avenue that currently serves as the Lincoln Heights home of the Los Angeles Leadership Academy. “I met a woman in Echo Park who told me it was once a refuge for wayward girls,” said Benedict. “She knew that because she was one of them and stayed there until her child was born some time in the 1960s.”
In fact, the Griffin Avenue compound once known as the Booth Maternity Group Home for Unwed Mothers served as a refuge for teenage and unwed mothers more than 90 years.
The group home started after a “wealthy benefactor” donated a house to the Salvation Army for “fallen women,” according to the Booth Memorial Center Facebook page. The Booth Memorial Center, as it was later known, underwent a major expansion in the 1960s that allowed it to shelter 150 pregnant teens and their babies, according to the L.A. Times. In addition to housing, the center also included a small maternity hospital and school. But as government funding dried up and more pregnant teens ended up in foster homes, the Salvation Army was forced to close the home in early 1993.