Hollygrove Home for Children was founded as the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society back in 1880. It was a home for abused or neglected children in the foster care system. At any one time up to 68 children were housed on the campus. Hollygrove Home for Children closed in 2005, and stopped taking in children prior to that date. Now they focus on placing children in Foster Homes and giving help in a new way.
After they shut down the residential part of the services, they tore down this building and put up a new structure. The cottages out back stayed the same, however, they put a sign on the gate showing the name of the home.
When I lived here, there was no sign announcing who we were. They protected us from newspaper people who kept trying to take our pictures. They loved us, and did all they could to help us be safe, learn skills that have blessed us all our lives, as well as how happy people lived. And they succeeded.
I lived in Hollygrove Home for Children in the late 1950’s. During the 1980’s I went back for some reunions and met with some of the girls with whom I had lived in my old dorm. Even the head mistress, Miss Margaret Ingram had come back for one of them. It was so good to see her again and get her special hug. She was a grand lady and we sat in her old office where she told me that she had always believed in me and had hated sending me out with those who had not been kind to me.
We remained close until she passed away a few years ago. She was a great example of a good Christian woman. While she never had her own birth children, she is beloved and respected by the thousands of us whom she taught what good, clean love is.
The first time I went back I saw they had put locks on the piano and added a pool table. I was told that after I left no one loved the piano as I had. It brought tears to my eyes, as that piano has blessed my life over 58 years.
As you can see, the building in the front was two stories high, with the offices, dinning room, kitchen on the main floor with the classrooms upstairs.
Each cottage out back had 2 dorms with four children to a dorm; a kitchenette; bathroom with several stalls; a shower room and a laundry, as well as rooms for our housemother. In the back of the main administration office was a white hospital infirmary type of building. When we were sick, we slept there so a nurse could watch over us and help us feel safe as well as get us well.
Many times the women from the Studio Club or the Desilu Studio would come and take us to the theater or the movie sets so we could watch them perform. When the Studio had food left over after a movie shoot, they would bring it to us and so we had lots of cake and ice cream and really yummy things to eat. Many times they filmed shows, like the Father Knows Best program, using our cottages as a background. I was able to meet many people who were famous.
I also learned how to play baseball and do crafts while living there. We went to a public swimming pool and I learned how to dance in the water. They called it Aqua-ballet. After we trained, we preformed before a large audience one night and I felt like a mermaid in bathing suit and cap that were special made just for me. We all looked the same, and it was a lot of fun.
I have used the skills I learned at Hollygrove over the years to brighten my homes and help others do the same. It makes me feel good to do that for people. Living there I was safe and got to sleep on clean sheets without being tied down. Even though some laughed at me because I was different than others and not very smart in normal things, Miss Ingram helped me feel smart. She allowed me to read all the books in her office and helped me get a library card. I was learning how to communicate and not be put down or harmed in any serious way. Children who suffered really need this type of love, don’t you agree?
At one of the reunions one of my old roommates slipped me a note just before she left. It was an apology for the way she had treated me when we were living there. I wanted to let her know that I did not even remember what she had done. I mean, children teasing and hitting each other is one thing. Being beat by an adult is something different. I loved her and the fact that she felt bad about what she had done, made me love her even more. She was the first person to tell me they were sorry for the way they treated me.
I felt real love while I lived there and after I recognized the difference between real love and fake love, I never wanted to accept anything less again. A very important lesson I learned there was that people can be good no matter what religion or race they have been raised in. During one of the reunions I was told by several people how much they had hated being there. I personally loved Hollygrove Home for Children. The others had an earlier life much different than the one I had come from. I guess it is all a matter of perspective.