A small fire broke out on Thursday afternoon on the site of a nearly 90-year-old East Los Angeles handball court that has been nominated as a state historic monument. The fire at Maravilla Handball Court – the oldest surviving handball court in East L.A. – caused relatively minor damage to a vacant store connected to the brick court and will not interfere with the landmark nomination, said Los Angeles Conservancy official Cindy Olnick who inspected the damage.
In the 1940s, the Mednik Avenue handball court and storefront, formerly the El Centro market, was purchased by the Nishiyama family, Japanese Americans who developed close ties to the primarily Mexican-American neighborhood. The store and handball court have been closed for the past five years folllowing the deaths of Michi and Tommy Nishiyama but The Maravilla Historical Society has spearheaded an effort to have the store and court declared a historic monument.
In September, the historical society in partnership with the Los Angeles Conservancy, the area’s largest historic preservation group, nominated the property as a state historic monument. The nomination, which has won the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Superisors, will be reviewed early next year by the State Historical Resources Commission
The fire might have been related to an electical problem, Olnick said. East L.A. resident C.J. Salgado, who snapped the photos, said he was told the fire broke at about noon.
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