The Fourplexes of South Los Angeles

Marilyn Novell, Architectural Resources Group, Inc.

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The Architectural Resources Group team surveyed the neighborhoods of South LA and found many excellent examples of the fourplex property type, which is a two-story building that is halfway between a single-family house and the larger, multi-family apartment buildings that are common today.  This property type was very popular in the 1910s and 20s.  We saw fourplexes in a multitude of styles including Neoclassical, Mediterranean Revival, Craftsman, and Art Deco.  Despite differences in style, they are almost always identical in size and shape—two stories, with a rectangular footprint and two apartments on each floor.  Each apartment has its own entrance; all four doors are typically clustered at the center of the main façade at the ground floor.  In some cases, a broad porch accommodates the two downstairs units and a canopy creates a wide, balustraded balcony shared by the two upstairs units.  Some have truly grand, pedimented entries, which is characteristic of the Neoclassical style.  Each of these apartment buildings offers spacious, house-like living for four families, usually in quiet, single-family residential neighborhoods. We also found areas adjacent to historic streetcar routes where developers built clusters of fourplexes to accommodate the increased demand for housing in these neighborhoods during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

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