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Biddy Mason Park and Wall
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Biddy Mason Park and Wall

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2006 - 2017.


Bridget Mason, affectionately called Biddy, was a freed slave, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. Biddy was born on August 15, 1818 on Robert Marion Smith’s Plantation in Hancock, Georgia (or possibly Mississippi) and rose to be one of the first prominent African American women in Los Angeles. On the plantation, she worked as nurse and midwife. Smith moved his family and slaves to San Bernardino, California in 1851. Biddy then learned that California was a free state and with help, took Smith to court and gained the freedom of herself and children about 1856.

Biddy worked as a midwife and saved her money to buy a parcel of land at 331 Spring Street which made her the first African American woman to own land in Los Angeles. Being a wise investor, she amasses a sizable fortune. Biddy supported charities and in 1872, she and Charles Owens established the first African American Methodist Episcopal Church which still functions today. She provided free food and shelter in her home to the needy and visited prison inmates.

Biddy died on January 15, 1891 and was buried in an unmarked grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights. Almost a century later, on March 27, 1988, a commemorative tombstone was installed. A few years later, a small park was dedicated on the site of her former home.

Biddy Mason Park is at Broadway and Spring, between 3rd and 4th Streets, next to the Bradbury Building. 333 South Spring Street. Open 24 hours.

Biddy Mason Wall by Sheila de Bretteville.



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This page last updated: Monday, 27-Jun-2016 01:04:20 EDT

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