Neighborhood Fixture: Echo Park’s Big Mama Court

“Big Mama Court” was the nickname given to this Echo Park Spanish-Colonial style apartment complex by the authors of the 1982 book “Courtyard Housing in Los Angeles” in “honor of its tenacious manager.”  Apparently Big Mama has been replaced by a large network of surveillance  cameras that now watch over the cream-colored complex that looms over the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Fairbanks Place. The  complex, designed by architect Nathan Black and built by developer George L. McCallister, consists of several buildings divided by narrow passageways and courtyards, according to the Echo Park Historical Society.

One section of the complex, most of which was built in the early 1920s,  consists of eight, separate two-story buildings that step down the hillside from Fairbanks Place to Echo Park Avenue.

“Despite the existence of a small fountain, this unusual courtyard is carried out like a public narrow street of dimensions and light quality that are intensely Mediterranean,” said the authors of Courtyard Housing.

While the authors of Courtyard Housing dubbed it “Big Mama Court,” the complex at one point was known as McCallister Manor, with its name prominently displayed on a roof-top neon sign that is long-gone.


  1. Have passed by many times but never seen the courtyard. Thanks, especially for the shots there. An example of how to build relatively dense while allowing light and air — and ending up with a monolithic result

  2. oops…that’s NOT ending up with a monlithic result!

  3. this courtyard complex could be so beautiful. i wish it could get some TLC to help bring it back to it’s former glory. unfortunately , i’m aware that many negative comments will now follow my post.

  4. A friend of mine lived here for a few months. I always admired the architecture.

  5. Does the big goof still live there that parks his camaro with pylons all around? That guy is so creepy!

  6. Not Another Neighbor

    Shame about all the gangsters living next door shooting dice in the alley

  7. That place is a dive, if the walls could talk…I even had nightmares of that spanish tile building, when I was in folsom! It is suiting for all you yuppies, that just think it’s so cool…My memories of that dive were awful, but it is so vintage? Ill vibe, I hope you like it…

  8. God, I would love for this to come on the market.

    • Why ? So you can add some plastic crown mouldings from home deport, advertise it as “Up and Coming” and then triple the rent ?

  9. um, what courtyard?

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