The Heritage Square Museum is classified as a "living history museum.'' It preserves and interprets the settlement and development of Southern California from 1850 to 1950 by offering visitors an opportunity to peek inside the homes and everyday lives of Southern Californians from the Civil War to the mid-20th Century.
Eight historic structures make up the museum, each representing a different aspect of California life. They include the Carriage Barn, the Ford House, the Hale House, the Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church, the Octagon House, the Palms Depot, the Perry Residence, and the Valley Knudsen. Most were constructed during the Victorian Era and saved from the wrecking ball to be used as background in educating the public about the area's early development.
Gilbert Longfellow's Octagon House dating from 1893 is one of the simpler structures, costing less to construct and requiring shorter lengths of lumber than conventional homes. Modestly furnished, it stands in stark contrast to the opulent 1876 mansion of prominent businessman and lumber baron William Hayes Perry. The Perry Residence features the original hardwood floors, sweeping staircase, and marble fireplace mantles that once adorned its location in Boyle Heights. In its day, the mansion was one of the finest and most expensive homes in Los Angeles.
Even larger than the Perry Residence is the 1898 Methodist Church, which had to be cut into six pieces to move it to the museum from its original site on the southeast corner of Orange Grove Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue in Pasadena. It once served as a community center for church functions and classes.
The Ford House is a typical tract-style middle-class Los Angeles home of the late 1870s. Lifted from on Mozart Street in the neighborhood of Lincoln Heights, the French-influenced Valley Knudsen Garden Residence represents a departure in middle-working class housing of the same period. Meanwhile, the Hale House is an example of Queen Anne and Eastlake styles from 1887, with elegant furnishings depicting the turn of the century.
The Carriage Barn was built in 1899 to store a carriage and stable horses. The structure was later converted into a dwelling and garage. Architecturally, its three gables and distinctive pitched roof are common features of the Queen Anne Cottage style with Gothic influences.
A noteworthy rail stop after it was built in 1887, the Palms Depot was declared an historical monument in 1963. It has been used in as a set for movies and television, but today the station serves as the Heritage Square Museum's Visitor Center and Store, and its platform is where guided tours begin.
General admission to the Heritage Square Museum is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors over 65, and $5 for youth ages 6 to 12. Museum members and children under the age of six are admitted free of charge. Discounts are given to members of the AAA Auto Club and TimeTravelers.
Guided tours of most of the structures depart hourly from noon to 3pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Group tours can be arranged on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays between 10am and 2pm. The museum's business offices are open Monday through Friday, from 9am to 4:30pm, and the museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
The Heritage Square Museum is located at 3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles, California, 90031-1530. It is just off the I-110 Arroyo Seco Parkway (aka 110 Pasadena/Harbor Freeway). Exit at Avenue 43 and turn right onto Homer Street. The parking lot entrance is at the end of the street on your right.