Skip to content

Carson receives unique Black Modernism grant


Preserving historic architecture

The City of Carson is in luck this month as the city has just been selected as a recipient of the 2023 Conserving Black Modernism grant. The grant is under the Action Fund Grant program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is worth up to $150,000. The new addition will aim towards providing a Historic Structure Report that assesses the condition of Carson City Hall and ensures the preservation of the building’s architectural elements.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation,” said Carson Mayor Lula Davis-Hoilmes. “This celebration of the unique legacy and architectural significance of Carson City Hall and to place it within a tremendous social movement in LA County in the 1960s and 1970s is an opportunity for the City to celebrate excellence, and increase the awareness and appreciation of an important piece of our history.”

Grant writer John Raymond says of the grant, “The ultimate objective is always to increase public awareness; the Historic Structure Report, which the grant will fund, is really a tool to help the City accomplish this. The early 1970s Council that hired the architects was excited to hire a multi-ethnic team because they thought they represented the population of Carson. This project was part of a wave of optimistic public investment in South LA and the South Bay in the 1960s and 1970s. Ending up with a building as distinctive as City Hall was a bonus.”

The Carson City Hall is a good example of Later Modernism design with an open interior and simplified outside forms. The three wings create a “Y” shape, and elements of the design seem nautical, with the sides of the building shaped like a ship’s windows with outriggers. The interior grand staircase ascends toward a nautilus-shaped atrium, and nearly all the interior walls are polished teak–much like the inside of a yacht.

The African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is responsible for preserving historical homes, museums, landscapes and has supported 242 historic places.

“We were invited by the National Trust to apply for the grant,” Raymond added. “First, we submitted a Letter of Interest in December, and from that round we were invited to apply for the grant. The Conserving Black Modernism program provided a technical advisor to review and comment on the grant application to help us focus on potential future grant goals.”