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LA City Council Designates Home Of Noted Civil Rights Attorney Loren Miller A Historic-Cultural Monument

A beige two-story home (left) has a garage off a cracked driveway. A bay window is at the forefront and there's a metal awning over the front door. At right, Loren Miller wears a suit and has a neatly trimmed mustache in a black-and-white image.
Loren Miller's home today (left), and Miller circa 1930s (right). He lived at the house on Micheltorena Street from 1940 to his death in 1967.
(Courtesy Cultural Heritage Commission and USC Library Exhibits Collection)
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The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved the designation of Loren Miller's Silver Lake home as a historic-cultural monument.

The Black civil rights attorney fought against redlining policies in L.A. and nationwide. He argued and won a U.S. Supreme Court case — Shelley v. Kraemer — that struck down racist real estate covenants in 1948.

Adrian Scott Fine, with the L.A. Conservancy, said it was time to recognize Miller for his work against housing discrimination.

"He's just somebody that really changed the course of history, but few people know him," Fine said. "And this house helps shed some light on his story and his contribution to civil rights and the movement, both around segregation and discrimination"

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The recommendation for the designation notes:

Loren Miller was born in 1903 in Pender, Nebraska. The son of a formerly enslaved Black father and a white mother, Miller grew up in poverty and developed a drive for justice from a young age. Miller graduated with a law degree from Washburn University in 1928, despite multiple interruptions to his college career due to financial circumstances. Miller ran his own legal practice in Topeka for just a year before moving to Los Angeles, where his mother and siblings had relocated after his father’s death. There, Miller took a job as a reporter for the California News, a Black newspaper; in the following years he wrote for a number of other publications and services, including the California Eagle, Talk of the Town (later the Los Angeles Sentinel), the Associated Negro Press, and the New Masses. Miller was connected to many other prominent Black intellectuals, most notably Langston Hughes, with whom he visited the Soviet Union in 1932. He was also a member of the NAACP and the Communist Party of the United States, using his legal expertise to assist both organizations.
1930 U.S. Census with Miller family outlined in red��
1930 U.S. Census with Miller family outlined in red
(Courtesy Cultural Heritage Commission)

Miller's notable clients over the years include "Horace P. Clark, Hattie McDaniel, and Louise Beavers, who were sued by white neighbors when they purchased property in the wealthy West Adams neighborhood after racially restrictive covenants had expired."

Miller lived in the two-story house at 647 Micheltorena St. for nearly 30 years — until his death in 1967. The home was designed for Miller by architect James H. Garrott, who worked with the famed architect Paul Williams (whose own home on West 35th Street was named a historic-cultural monument earlier this year. )

The Miller house was completed in 1940 and the recommendation notes that it "has not been substantially altered from the period between 1940 and 1967 when Miller lived there."

Fine says designating the home as a historic-cultural monument provides a physical reminder of Miller and his accomplishments.

The commission made the recommendation last month. The 12 City Council members in attendance Friday all voted yes.

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