Fire damages East LA handball court historic site | Archives

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

In the 1940s, the Avenue Mednik the handball court and storefront, formerly the El Centro market, was purchased by the Nishiyama family, Japanese Americans which has developed strong ties to the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood. The store and the handball court have been closed for five years following the death of Michi and Tommy Nishiyama, but the Maravilla Historical Society led an effort to have the store and yard declared a historical monument.

In September, the historical society, in partnership with the Los Angeles Conservancy, the area’s largest historic preservation group, designated the property as a state historic landmark. The nomination, which has the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Superiors, will be considered early next year by the National Historic Resources Commission

The fire may have been related to an electrical problem, Olnick said. East LA resident CJ Salgado, who took the photos, said he was told the fire started around noon.

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