The Willmore City Heritage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, founded in 1976, to improve, preserve, and promote Long Beach’s first designated historic district. WCHA is a well established community organization that not only works toward historic preservation of the Willmore City / Drake Park Historic District, but works hard to deal with the social issues of an inner city neighborhood.
WCHA is committed to the preservation, protection, and improvement of the physical environment and quality of life in the Willmore City / Drake Park neighborhood. The past, present, and future come together in Long Beach’s Willmore City / Drake Park neighborhood, home to some of the Long Beach’s oldest houses and most congenial people in the city.
The historic district sits on land first developed in the late 19th century by the early city pioneer William E. Willmore, and contains the site of the original township of Willmore City. Part of the area became a historic district—Long Beach’s first—in 1978; since then the residents have been preserving and protecting it. The entire neighborhood now enjoys the protection of historic designation and a zoning ordinance tailored to the area.
WCHA is a neighborhood organization serving the approximate one square mile historic district and was established to save the neighborhood from demolition for Downtown expansion and to obtain historic designation for the district from the City of Long Beach. The Willmore City / Drake Park Historic District is also designated by the State of California as a Certified Historic District. Not only is the neighborhood a designated historic district, the Willmore City / Drake Park area enjoys special zoning, Long Beach Planned Development-10, which was written to encourage relocation of historic homes into the historic district. Several homes relocated from the World Trade Center development successfully found new locations in the Willmore City / Drake Park historic district and other houses in the neighboring West Gateway Redevelopment project area have been saved and moved into the historic district.
WCHA has received many grants for the betterment of our neighborhood, including a small pocket park, various mural projects including the repainting of a vintage advertising sign, traffic street signs showing historic district designation, and several safety initiatives (such as bicycle and pedestrian fairs). The Willmore City / Drake Park area is also a federally designated Neighborhood Improvement Strategy Area and because of our residents’ civic involvement was one of the most successful neighborhoods in the program and is often used by Long Beach Community Development as a model for other NIS areas.
WCHA supports the Drake Park Community Center and its many programs, publishes a monthly newsletter, sponsors neighborhood clean-ups, tree plantings, home tours, and other events. In 2003 we qualified for a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO). We have been recipients of awards from the Cultural Heritage Commission, Community Development, and Neighborhoods USA for various projects.
We deal with the issues common to urban residents today: land use, zoning, keeping crime down, and creating a comfortable environment for people of varying income levels and ethnicities. Virtually everyone respects each other, helps each other, and works with neighbors to create a clean, safe, attractive, and exciting multicultural neighborhood. As California and Long Beach reach the point where there will be no majority population, the people of Willmore City are leading the way to the future.
Where We Are
The Willmore City / Drake Park Historic District is located in Downtown Long Beach, adjacent to the Pine Avenue Entertainment District. We are located on the west side of Long Beach ( just off the 710 freeway). Our borders are: the 710 freeway on the West; 4th St. on the South, Cedar St. on the East, and Moro & 12th St. on the North. The Willmore City / Drake Park Historic District boundaries are 4th Street on the south to Anaheim Street on the north, Pacific Avenue on the east and the Los Angeles River on the west, in Long Beach, CA.
Here is a map of the Willmore City / Drake Park Neighborhood
View Willmore City Maps in a larger map