In 1882, Los Angeles Orphans’ Home Society purchased the plot of land on the corner of Yale and Bergin (Alpine) to house the city’s orphans. Six years later, due to overcrowding, the previous two-story home was torn down and additional land was purchased to build a new home.
Sitting on nearly one acre, the new building was a tower of brick, two stories high, with basement and an attic, all with sloping roofs, rising in the center tower to a full story. Shaped like a great “T”, the front of the building ran along Yale Street with three wings that stretched west, the longer being in the center.
In the summer of 1911, the orphanage moved to a new 5-acre home at El Centro and Waring Street donated to them by a local wealthy philanthropist. Two years later, in February of 1913, the Los Angeles Times reported that individuals connected with the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) were in the process of purchasing the building on Alpine.
The Magon brothers were still serving sentences at McNeil Island for violation of U.S. neutrality laws. The PLM activities in Los Angeles were now in the hands of Maria Talavera, WC Owen, JF Moncaleano and Romulo Carmona.
With the help of funding from various sources, including Moncaleano and Carmona, they established La Casa del Obrero Internacional (the International Workers’ Home.) The Casa housed various political organizations, including the PLM headquarters and the office of Regeneracion. Beyond political activity, the Casa offered sleeping accommodations, baths and doctor’s services.
The Casa also housed La Escuela Racionalista (the Rationalist School), a school that utilized the educational principles developed by Catalan anarchist Francisco Ferrer Guardia, who argued that education was the key to emancipation of the working class. The instructors lectured the female students against the “bonds of female slavery” and the males against the “fetters of imperialist wars.”
The Casa was directed by Juan Francisco Moncaleano, a Columbian anarchist who fled from his country to avoid arrest. He and his wife, Blanca de Moncaleano, traveled to Mexico where they continued their political activities until Juan’s arrest and deportation for “subversive activity.” While in Mexico he helped to establish La Casa del Obrero Mundial (The Home of the Workers of the World), the anarchist headquarters in Mexico City, which served as a model for the Casa in Los Angeles. He also helped to establish the newspaper Luz. After his deportation from Mexico, he traveled to Spain where he lived for a few months. While in Spain, he contacted the PLM, indicating his interest in working with the organization. He then arrived in Los Angeles, immediately involving himself in the purchase of the location.
Also involved in the Casa was Romulo Carmona, Enrique Flores Magon’s father-in-law who acted as the treasurer. Carmona owned La Aurora, a revolutionary bookstore on San Fernando. (See 652 – 660 San Fernando St) He was arrested several years back in El Paso during a foiled plot to engage in a raid into Mexico targeting government buildings.
The experiment, however, was short-lived due to what seems like a conflict between Moncaleano and Carmona and other members of the PLM. By May of 1917 the office of Regeneracion and the PLM had moved out of the Yale Street location to 914 Boston Street, where Regeneracion office previously resided. La Escuela Racionalista also moved back to the original locations at 765 San Fernando Street.
Today, the property is now the Alpine Recreation Center, located on the corner of Alpine and Yale.