Ralph J. Bunche House

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Ralph J. Bunche House
Ralph J. Bunche House, Los Angeles.JPG
Ralph J. Bunche House, 2008
Ralph J. Bunche House is located in California
Ralph J. Bunche House
Location 1221 E. 40th Place, Los Angeles, California
Coordinates 34°0′37″N 118°15′9″W / 34.01028°N 118.25250°W / 34.01028; -118.25250Coordinates: 34°0′37″N 118°15′9″W / 34.01028°N 118.25250°W / 34.01028; -118.25250
Built 1919
Architect Unknown
Architectural style Victorian-Bungalow
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 78000686[1]
LAHCM # 159
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 22, 1978
Designated LAHCM July 27, 1976

Ralph J. Bunche House, also known as the Ralph Bunche Peace & Heritage Center and located in South Los Angeles, was the Victorian-Bungalow style boyhood home of Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche. It was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (No. 159) by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in 1976, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Bunche's boyhood home[edit]

Bunche won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in negotiating and drafting the 1949 Armistice Agreements that ended the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[2] He was the first person of color from any country to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.[3] Bunche was born in Detroit, Michigan and later lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but moved to Los Angeles to live with his maternal grandmother when his mother died in 1917. Bunche and his sister, Grace, were raised at the house on 40th Place by their grandmother, Lucy Taylor Johnson, their two aunts (Nelle and Ethel), and their uncle Thomas Johnson.[4] While living in Los Angeles, Bunche became the valedictorian at both Jefferson High School, one-half block away, and UCLA, then located at Vermont Avenue and Melrose. Bunche was also a star basketball player while at UCLA.[5]

Restoration and museum[edit]

Bunche's boyhood home fell into disrepair and suffered from vandalism and graffiti in the 1980s and 1990s. The house sat vacant for a decade, "used only by squatters, taggers, gang members, and vagrants."[6]

In 1996, the home was acquired by the Dunbar Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group with plans to turn it into a museum. The group's plans were delayed by a lack of funding until the California Community Foundation issued a $100,000 interest-free loan in 1999.[7]

After a 1999 news report about funding delays and graffiti covering the home, Mayor Richard Riordan donned a hardhat and joined a work crew in cleaning up the home.[8]

Dr. Ralph J. Bunche Peace & Heritage Center[edit]

The home has since been preserved and furnished with photographs and memorabilia from Bunche's life. It is operated as the Dr. Ralph J. Bunche Peace & Heritage Center, an interpretive museum and community center to promote peaceful interaction of all groups within South Central Los Angeles. The property was fully restored between 2002 and 2004, winning a Los Angeles Conservancy preservation award in 2006.[9][10] That year, the house was described in the Los Angeles Times as "brilliant, with sunlight streaming through modified bay windows, scrubbed wood floors and an airy parlor/den/dining room."[11]

Oral history project[edit]

The Dr. Ralph J. Bunche Peace and Heritage Center Oral History Project is a joint venture with UCLA intended to collect oral histories on Bunche's life in Los Angeles as well as the Central Avenue and Dunbar Hotel community in South Los Angeles. The oral histories collected by the project will be permanently displayed at the Ralph J. Bunche House.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ Benjamin Rivlin, "Vita: Ralph Johnson Bunche: Brief life of a champion of human dignity: 1903-1971", Harvard Magazine, Nov. 2003.
  3. ^ Ralph Bunche, PBS.
  4. ^ John D. Weaver (1975-09-21). "In Pursuit of a Peacemaker". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ "UCLA Names Building for Ralph Bunche". Los Angeles Times. 1968-06-30. 
  6. ^ "Bunche House: Dr. Ralph J. Bunche Peace and Heritage Center". Congressman Xavier Becerra. 
  7. ^ "Foundation Makes Loan to Restore Bunche Home". Los Angeles Times. 1999-03-10. 
  8. ^ "Riordan Cuts Red Tape to Begin Restoration of Nobelist's Home". Los Angeles Times. 1999-03-12. 
  9. ^ "2008 PRESERVATION AWARD DELIBERATIONS UNDER WAY". Los Angeles Conservancy. 
  10. ^ Andre Coleman (2006-05-18). "(Kid)space preserved". Pasadena Weekly. 
  11. ^ Erin Aubry Kaplan (2006-04-19). "On and off Central Ave.". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ "The Dr. Ralph J. Bunche Peace and Heritage Center Oral History Project". UCLA.