The Brentwood Country Mart opened on November 18, 1948. Designed by architect Rowland Crawford and built (in a mere six months) by the Baruch Corporation, the red-board structure evokes early American and English country marketplaces, with shops and stalls arranged around a central courtyard.
Intended as the West Side version of Los Angeles's famed Farmer's Market (at Fairfax and Third), the Brentwood Country Mart was even more ambitiously conceived as "a new type of all-in-one service center" with its 27 shops and stalls offering an impressive slate of products and services, from the everyday to the exotic.
A vigorous advertising campaign followed the opening, touting the market as an "innovation in modern merchandising," and establishing the sign of the golden ram as an emblem of quality and economy.
Simultaneously, celebrities were deployed to imbue its image with a glamorous cachet which, indeed, it soon possessed, as evidenced by its frequent mention in society columns as a favorite haunt of Hollywood stars. At the end of its first year, the Brentwood Country Mart was proclaimed a success in the local press, and the public invited to share in its first birthday celebration, with "entertainment galore and fun for everyone."
By 1950 it had become home to groups of Brownies, pharmacists, dancers, plant aficionados, and charities, which, in addition to regular meetings, held classes, exhibitions, rallies, fundraisers, parties, fashion shows, afternoon teas, and pet parades in the courtyard and auditorium. Within a few years, the number of community groups who utilized the Mart had swelled considerably (and now included the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, artists' and theatre groups, the Red Cross and the Cancer Society), as did the number of informal societies who adopted the patio as their "headquarters."
Often, the Brentwood Country Mart hosted special events for the community, particularly parties for children and teenagers that featured Santa Claus and (oddly enough) Bozo the Clown in the guise of the Easter Bunny (1951). The liveliness of the place led the Los Angeles Examiner (August 12, 1953) to observe that "the Brentwood Country Mart... is fast becoming a community center."
And because this community center is in Brentwood, the "regulars" included many luminaries. Joan Crawford, Betty Hutton, Robert and Dorothy Mitchum, Elizabeth Taylor, Burt Lancaster, Shirley Temple Black, and Greta and Gregory Peck, were mentioned in the press in connection with the Mart, among many others, including Olivia de Haviland, Edgar Bergen, Leslie Caron, June Haver, James Whitmore, Leo Carillo, JanePowell, and Marsha Willis. Many of these celebrities engaged in the philanthropic work for which the Mart was well known, and some of them simply shopped in their own neighborhood.
Existing establishments such as the Barber Shop, the Post Office and the Shoe Repair remain to provide exceptional service for the community they are as popular and busy as ever. Reddi Chick offers the best rotisserie chicken and french fries in Los Angeles.
In today's world of mega-stores and mega-malls, the Brentwood Country Mart feels cozy, familiar and is a place where it is easy to shop. The Brentwood Country Mart is being renovated and restored by James S. Rosenfield and Daniel I. Bercu of JS Rosenfield & Co. JS Rosenfield & Co specializes in the preservations of unique Los Angeles environments. The firm is also responsible for the preservation of the historical Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on Montana Avenue.
For further information, please contact James Rosenfield at 310-458-6682.