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.
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."
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, Jane Powell, 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 has been renovated and restored by James S. Rosenfield. 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.