“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 Apparently Big Mama has been replaced by a large network of surveillance cameras that now watch over the cream-colored complex that looms over the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Fairbanks Place.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.