By the early 1970s the tight-knit group of Croatians who founded the Croatian American Club were in major need of their own center to host cultural events and to promote their rich Croatian history and heritage. 1972 was a monumental year for the local community. The club decided to sell a duplex it owned and purchase the Croatian Hall, “Hrvatski Dom.” With great pride, the Croatian American Club finally had a place of their own to call home in San Pedro.
The purchase of the hall was accomplished with the support and donations of the San Pedro and Los Angeles Croatian communities. Throughout its history the hall has offered a place where Croatians could host amazing cultural events, dinner-dances, Croatian Soccer Tournament banquets, fundraisers, folklore ensembles, concerts with patriotic singers from Croatia, and dignitaries. In 1973, a group of Croatian Hall Founders created an organization of Croatian Fisherman who fished in Alaska, proudly displaying their Croatian flags on their boats. During the mid 1970’s the Club became involved with establishing contacts with Croatian leaders and university leaders in Zagreb.
In addition to hosting social activities, members of the Croatian American Club were also keen to fulfill a dream of liberating their motherland from communist rule. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a Croatian freedom movement, known as Hrvatsko Proljece (Croatian Spring), was starting to brew. In 1971, the movement took to action and had the complete support of Croatian communities worldwide, including the Croatian American Club of San Pedro. The club offered never ending support to the cause of a free Croatia and worked collaboratively with other Croatian communities throughout North America to achieve this goal.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Croatian communities throughout the world were persecuted by UDBA, the secret police organization of Yugoslavia. Although this was a very dangerous period for Croatians in San Pedro and Los Angeles, the members of the Croatian American Club persisted and the amount of events held at the hall significantly expanded. The tight knit group of club members moved mountains to build the community during trying times. They certainly were a special generation that should never be forgotten because without them there might not be a local Croatian community in San Pedro today.
As new immigrants arrived, in the early 1980s, they quickly became active participants and grew the Croatian community. Throughout the 1980s, a significant amount of effort went in to develop additional cultural programs and the hall continued to be a lively place with numerous events. In 1980, another soccer team was established, known as San Pedro Croatia, which held banquets and meetings at the hall. During the early 1980s a local kolo group and Croatian language school was established with classes, practices, and performances held regularly at the hall. In addition, family dinner nights gained popularity during this period. The community worked in unison to maintain the hall. Members donated their time and material to improve and beautify the building. It was truly a labor of love.
By the late 1980s, it was apparent that communism was on the brink of collapse throughout Europe and that a free and independent Croatia was within reach. The club was instrumental in supporting the Croatian liberation movement. The hall was the local base to host Croatian political figures and for local patriots to vigorously engage and support the movement.