Highland Park fire damages two historic landmarks once threatened with demolition

The Reeves House | Photo by Katrina Alexy

HIGHLAND PARK — Preservationists launched a campaign 30 years ago to save two old bungalows in the 200 block of Avenue 53 from being demolished for new development. Not only were the homes saved, the properties that sit side-by-side were declared city historic landmarks. But on Tuesday morning, the pair of historic homes that were saved from the bulldozers were heavily damaged by fire.

The homes — The Reeves House at 219 N. Avenue 53 and the Morrell House next door at  215 N. Avenue 53 — were among a dozen properties that were nominated as historic landmarks in 1988 to prevent their destruction and help establish the large historic district that includes much of Highland Park, according to a Facebook post by the Highland Park Heritage Trust.

The fire apparently gutted the Reeves house and then spread next door to the Morrell House.  One of two firefighters that underwent medical evaluations was transported to a hospital but  was reported to be in good condition.   The cause of the fire remains under investigation, an L.A. Fire Department spokeswoman said this morning.

The Morrell House | Photo by Katrina Alexy

According to Highland Park,  a book authored by neighborhood historian Charles Fisher, the Reeves House, Historic Cultural Monument No. 380, is a 1904 Colonial-style cottage that once served as the home for local teacher Susan Reeves.  The property was to be demolished for a 20-unit apartment building before it was declared a landmark.

Next door, the Morrell House, Historic Cultural Monument No. 279, built in 1906 and designed by architect Charles E. Shattuck, was featured in Craftsman magazine for it’s “unique design and livability,” said Fisher’s book.

Photo by Benjamin Kidwell-Lein

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