In 1905, the Semi-Tropic Spiritualists designed the Tract--then just outside the city limits--as a large campground surrounded by tiny lots for camping, meetings, “mediums,” lectures and concerts.
In the 1970s, developers subdivided (and may have merged the tiny lots) the land into three large lots. The current developer intends to subdivide the three lots into 16 lots, which may mean cutting down every tree and removing and grading 95% of the slope.
If you walk through the area and go around the street barrier onto the broken asphalt on El Moran, you can see the cultural marker for groundbreaking printmaker Paul Landacre's house, which is covered with graying shingles and shaded by the surrounding trees. The natural landscape around the house inspired many of Landacre's engravings.
The 1934 print of Landacre's “Lot Clearing” shows the quality of light in the area as it once was. The 1936 print of “August Seventh” suggests the quiet of a day spent between the two streets. “Sultry Day” shows Landacre's then-young wife reading a book in the nude in front of a window that shows the trees and brush. (These can be seen at http://keithsheridan.com/landacre.html.) Many of his works are housed at UCLA's William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. http://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf9v19p2h7.
Before World War I, Echo Park was nicknamed "Red Hill" because of its concentration of political radicals. Their influence may be responsible for the naming of Modjeska Street.
Helena Modjeska (1840 to 1909) a Polish actor, emigrated to the United States to establish a commune near Anaheim, inspired by the utopian community of Brook Farm in Massachusetts, which had drawn from Transcendental ideas about nature and premised in the belief that work and leisure could be balanced.
The utopian experiment failed, largely because Modjeska and her comrades spent most of their time talking and reading. None of the colonists knew anything about farming or ranching, and they didn't speak a word of English.
Board of Public Works commissioners postponed a meeting on the developer's proposal to cut trees protected by a city ordinance in the area between Modjeska and El Moran streets.
They are working with the developer Planet Home Living and Eric Garcetti's office.
Michael Marini has told Echo Park Patch that they plan to go through all appropriate channels when dealing with the city and the community.
But he did confirm that the group would be open to a sale should a buyer be found.