November 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm , by Rafael Cardenas
On Mednik Avenue, between Avenida Cesar Chavez and Floral Drive, across from the Maravilla Housing Project, is an inconspicuous building that you might have passed many times but never noticed. There, stands a tall wall of brick and mortar that was laid in the 1920’s next to El Centro Grocery. If you look up high enough you will see a group of weathered letters hanging for dear life to a chain link fence that read: The Maravilla Handball Court. The MHC is the latest historic center that is now in jeopardy of being destroyed. But a group of organizers are fighting to preserve it.
The handball court and grocery store were owned and operated by Tommy and Michi Shigeru Nishiyama since the 1940s. A few years ago the couple passed away a year apart. Their surviving son is looking for someone to sell the property to; someone that will continue its legacy.
Enter the Maravilla Historical Society with plans to create a non-profit organization dedicated to certifying the building as a historical landmark, restoring the court and re-igniting the handball ferver of yesteryear. Only this time allowing a women’s league to participate at what once was a “men only” gathering spot.
“It has been my experience to see gentrification remove our stories of origin, the stories that once said so much about our culture, our people, and the determination of making something great out of what some would think was nothing,” said Amanda Perez, president of the newly formed historical society. She was born and raised in Maravilla and adds, “It is my passion to save the legacy of my people, my community, and our Chicano culture. We want this place to be a light house for all to come and step into the past, present and future.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about The Maravilla Handball Court, here is some information they sent me:
* Join the efforts taking place to revitalize the Maravilla Handball Court in East Los Angeles.
* Oldest handball court in East Los Angeles with a fascinating history as a vital community center.
* The Maravilla Historical Society is spearheading efforts to make the handball court a vibrant place for the community once again.
How can you help?
The Maravilla Historical Society is looking for volunteers to:
* Review and organize historic materials still present on site at the Handball Court in an effort to begin creating an archive.
* Assist with archiving historic materials including: photographs, historic documents and a variety of materials from throughout the twentieth century that tell the unique story of this site and the community it serves.
Maravilla Historical Society
510 Mednik Avenue
East Los Angeles, CA 90022
Community Outreach Coordinator
Los Angeles Conservancy
523 W. 6th Street, Suite 826
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Thank you Andrea Milly for bringing this to my attention.
For more info read these posts by Milly:
Also The Eastsider LA posted some good pictures here: