The Harriman Building as it Looked in 1930
As part of the $418 million dollar Rancho Rising project at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (Rancho), the Harriman Building has been completely renovated and reopened to the public for normal business operations as of February 2023.
Rancho once encompassed over 200 acres. The site first began in 1878 as a poor farm for the County’s indigent population. Inmates provided the labor, irrigation ditches were dug, crops were planted, a dairy herd was started, pigs and chickens were raised, and a vegetable garden was planted to make the project self-supporting and give “residents” work to do.
Superintendents came and went in the early years. In 1915, the hospital obtained the services of William R. Harriman to rehabilitate the farm, now with over 400 patients who were in need of rehab.
Not only did Harriman make the farm feed the hospital, but also provided vegetables for the General Hospital (known today as LA General Medical Center) and other County charities. He redesigned the irrigation system, revamped utilities, expanded powerhouse facilities, planned for new buildings, and implemented better personnel systems. The poor farm was soon looking like a park and the name gradually changed to Rancho Los Amigos, which means “Ranch of Friends”.
In 1929, Rancho was caring for approximately 2,000 patients. Then in the 1940’s, things began to change due to progressive policies issued by the administration and Harriman quickly moved into the medical field. He encouraged the Board of Supervisors to build a modern hospital with a projection of ultimately caring for 5,000 patients. Rancho would not just be concerned with custodial care but would take the most difficult cases, which required long-term treatment and use of all the resources at its command to restore patients to a productive life. Harriman retired in 1952.
The drive for Rancho to become a long-term care facility for patients with chronic diseases began with polio patients in 1944. Next came physical rehabilitation in 1955 to persons disabled by spinal cord injuries or disease, severe arthritis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological disorders, strokes and amputations. Today, Rancho provides care for approximately 4,000 inpatients and 80,000 outpatients annually.
The Harriman Building is the oldest building on the Rancho campus and has played an integral part in the evolution of the facility. US News & World Report has consistently ranked Rancho as one of the top rehabilitation centers in the nation.
The departments housed in the renovated Harriman Building are:
- Rehabilitation Engineering
- Seating Center
- Model Home
- Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART)
- Pathokinesiology (PK Lab)
- Physicians and Support Staff
- Nursing Administration
- Rancho Research Institute (RRI)
- Rehabilitation Therapy Administration
- VMI Call Center/Language & Culture
- Volunteer & Support Services
- RLA Foundation
The next time you visit our beautiful tranquil campus, contact the Office of Public & Media Relations to arrange a tour of the historical Harriman Building.