The Westchester/Playa Historical Society was founded in 2019 to gather, study and preserve the history of Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westchester. It also provides educational and research opportunities to the community through various exhibitions and events.
“When people of all ages come into the Discovery Center and actually see what we have here, they are fascinated with the history and can’t believe they never knew what came before us,” says Cozette Vergari, chair of the Historical Society.
Vergari grew up in Westchester and lives there with her husband. She left to attend USC, work and travel, but eventually moved back.
“I moved back to Los Angeles to be close to my mom, but also because it’s the best city in the world,” Vergari says. “It is full of diversity and opportunity—two things I wanted my children to be surrounded by while being raised. You get the best of both worlds on the Westside specifically. It’s a small town feel while still living in a big city.”
Some of the projects the Historical Society has worked on this year include its inaugural exhibit, “Aviation,” along with “Celebrating Women” and “Commemorating Our Hometown Veterans.” In the near future there will be a “Saluting Schools” exhibit as well.
The Historical Society’s goals for the future include resurrecting the walking and driving tours that took place before the pandemic. The guided trips took visitors to a number of stops showcasing rare sightings and locations. There is a map currently available on the website for anyone who is interested in doing a tour on their own in the meantime.
Running the organization is not an easy task, as preserving artifacts and data is challenging on its own in addition to raising funds for exhibits and displays. Vergari says that volunteering time and donating money are two of the best ways to support the Historical Society.
“The best way to help this nonprofit is through donation,” Vergari says. “We are so grateful for our donors. I never want people to forget how important helping each other is. Our population and community are truly giving people. I work in a group of six hardworking, creative doers and each of us wears multiple hats to run the organization.”
Currently, the Historical Society is offering a chance to win one of the historical holiday candles of Westchester. Its hope is to bring back the old tradition started many years ago by Dick Birch on Chase Avenue in the Kentwood neighborhood of Westchester. Raffle tickets are being sold online for $20 and the winning name will be drawn on Dec. 5. The offer includes a candle, a spot light, and for a small donation a personalized name or greeting.
The Discovery Center is open on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and by appointment. It is also available for school field trips.
“I love my interactions within the community,” Vergari says. “Some people come in and teach me things I didn’t know through their stories and some people I’m able to help expand their knowledge with the things that I know.”
Westchester/Playa Historical Society
6207 W 87th Street, Westchester