Know Your Streets: Bonnie Brae Street

A brief history of one of L.A.’s vintage fashionable avenues

Running from the dense Latino neighborhood of Westlake south to Pico Boulevard, Bonnie Brae Street became known as one of the fashionable avenues west of DTLA soon after being paved in 1889.

Lined with Queen Anne and American Colonial Revival-style homes sporting pedimented entries, open-air porches, and conical turrets, Bonnie Brae (Gaelic for “pleasant hill”) was a landing place for many silent-film actors and actresses of the 1920s, including Richard Cummings and Helen Fletcher. It was also the birthplace of the Pentecostal movement. After being ostracized by local churches for his belief in speaking in tongues, African American preacher and former Louisianan William J. Seymour created a sanctuary in a bungalow at 216 North Bonnie Brae. He drew such large crowds that he moved to bigger digs on Little Tokyo’s Azusa Street.

Known today as Bonnie Brae House, Seymour’s original sanctuary serves as a religious destination for worshippers and an educational experience for the curious.

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