Fire damages historic East L.A. handball court site

Photo by C.J. Salgado

A small fire broke out on Thursday afternoon on the site of a nearly 90-year-old East Los Angeles handball court that has been nominated as a state historic monument. The fire at Maravilla Handball Court – the oldest surviving handball court in East L.A. – caused relatively minor damage to a vacant store connected to the brick court and will not interfere with the landmark nomination, said Los Angeles Conservancy official Cindy Olnick who inspected the damage.

In  the 1940s, the Mednik Avenue handball court and storefront, formerly the El Centro market,  was purchased by the Nishiyama family, Japanese Americans who developed close ties to the primarily Mexican-American neighborhood.  The store and handball court have been closed for the past five years folllowing the deaths of Michi and Tommy Nishiyama but The Maravilla Historical Society has spearheaded an effort to have the store and court declared a historic monument. 

In September, the historical society in partnership with the Los Angeles Conservancy, the area’s largest historic preservation group, nominated the property as a state historic monument. The nomination, which has won the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Superisors, will be reviewed early next year by the State Historical Resources Commission

The fire might have been related to an electical problem, Olnick said. East L.A. resident C.J. Salgado, who snapped the photos, said he was told the fire broke at about noon.

Related Post:

  • Old homies play tribute to history, handball and a woman named Michi. The Eastsider


  1. boooooooringgggggg

  2. I’m glad that the historic handball court wasn’t seriously damaged and can still be preserved as a state historic monument.

  3. Happy the court is okay. I hope they rehab the neat sign!
    Chris, you should go do something else—We only have twelve months left! 🙂

  4. I was raise across the street in the projects, we would go to Michi’s market to get our penny candys. The pictures bring back memories. I went to school with their daughter , it sad to hear that her parents have past on. The hand ball court is a Historic Landmark. I have no regrets being raise in East L A.

    • Hello Vincent.

      I’m producing a short documentary for First Look Media & Racquet Magazine. We’ve optioned an article which was published in Racquet to profile the Maravilla Handball Court from the perspective of neighborhood residents who remember the court & it’s owners.

      I’d love to get in touch with you some way. My name is Donald Conley & I can be found on IMDB. I am the Associate Producer of feature length doc, Evolution of a Criminal.

      Would love to speak. Thanks Vincent.


  5. I believe that there are alot of memories that would be broken if the Maravilla Handball Court or Corner store Michis was removed children are still taught to this day how to play handball and it is not only used for handball I have been to a night out for a Movie that children and their parents of The East L.A. Community can attend a movie under the stars so lets think twice before removing a historic and beautiful monument as the Maravilla Handball Court.

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