Thursday, December 15, 2011

F.Q. Story -- Sunkist in Alhambra
502 N. Story Place

Francis Quarles Story (1845-1932) came to L.A in 1883 from San Francisco, where he'd been in the wool business. He'd come west from Boston in 1877 for health reasons, where he had learned the wool trade. He must have had some success in San Francisco as after arriving in L.A. he bought 30+ acres in today's Alhambra, became a lead investor in the First National Bank of Los Angeles, built a new house, and started in the orange grove business. He married Miss Charlotte S.F. Devereux in 1876 in Boston, who accompanied him to Alhambra. She was to pass away in 1897. He had two older brothers, Maj. General John P. Story (1841-1915), U.S. Army retired, and Judge William Story (1843-1921) of Colorado.

By 1910 the yard in Alhambra was filled with mature trees. A photo of the house and surroundings:

F. Q. Story Residence 1910

In 1902 Francis was elected President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. He also was a member of the Southern California Fruit Growers Exchange, a cooperative of fruit growers founded to assist local associations in harvesting/marketing their fruit. Until the associations were begun, middlemen were collecting greater profits than the growers. In 1904 Francis was elected president, and in 1905 the organization became the California Fruit Growers Exchange, with Francis still president.  In fact, he remained president of the organization until his retirement in 1920 at age 75.

A crate label for Sunkist (from Wikipedia)
In 1908 as president he led a marketing campaign that went down in history as one of the greatest. How could someone "brand" oranges? After a test in Iowa showed the brand oranges increased per capita consumption by 47% in just one year vs. a national average increase of 17%, the Exchange knew it was on to something. They decided to keep the new name "Sunkist".

In an early effort to get the name Sunkist into the minds of customers, each orange was wrapped in branded paper. Customers who sent in those wrappers were entitled to premiums such as silverware and glass orange juicers.

Besides his fruit growing, Francis was also an early investor in Phoenix, Arizona. He purchased tracts in the 1880's, eventually selling the land in the early 1920's. One of those tracts today is known as the F.Q. Story Historic District.

As forward thinking a man as he was, Francis still stuck to some tried and true things.  This article from an issue of the 1909 Los Angeles Herald told it all.

July, 1909 courtesy of UCR

He did recover from the accident and continued to live in his same house in Alhambra. In 1928 he donated a portion of his land to the city of Alhambra which became the north half of today's Story Park.  And in 1930 the census shows him still there with a chauffeur, a cook, and two servants (the word nurse was crossed out!). Francis passed away in July, 1932 at age 86. He is buried alongside Charlotte in nearby San Gabriel Cemetery.

That year the California Growers report was introduced with the following honorarium:

"Another of the sturdy, clear-visioned pioneers of the Exchange passed away during the season—Francis Q. Story, honorary life president, who died on July 1 at the ripe old age of 87 years.

"For a quarter of a century the history of the Exchange and the life of Mr. Story were inseparably interwoven. Elected director of the organization in 1897, chosen vice-president the same year and president in 1904, he continued to head the organization until 1920, when he retired at the age of 75 years.

"While every forward movement in the industry had his support, Mr. Story is especially well known as father of the great Sunkist national advertising campaign. It was in recognition of his invaluable contribution to the prosperity of the Exchange that the position of honorary life president was created for him at the time of his retirement.

Mr. Story's largest contribution consists not, however, in the concrete enterprises sponsored and effected, but in his spirit of true altruism and devoted service, which will long continue to be an inspiration to all who knew him."

Today the house still stands in private ownership, with the tower and decoration removed.

502 Story Place today (courtesy of Google Maps)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

John Fremont Salyer -- 705 East Adams

Born in Iowa in 1862, J. F. Salyer came west to Los Angeles in 1890 with his wife Rosa (1870-1914), and two sons Edwin (1885-1951) and Roy (1887-1950), and soon joined the Bartlett Music Co., formed by the Bartlett Brothers a few years before. As company fortunes rose, so too did J.F.'s.  By 1905 the family had moved to this new house on Adams Street. In fact they held a Valentine party there that very year.

705 East Adams in 1910

The next year found the Salyers (J.F. and Rosa) vacationing in Yosemite with neighbors Mrs. Lida McGauhey and daughter Byrda. Rosa and Byrda were both ranking members in the same chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Byrda's brother Benjamin was noted as an employee at the Bartlett Music Co. in 1901 (a "polisher" according to the directory). But it turned out Byrda had known J.F. since at least early 1900. In March of that year J.F. and Byrda had applied for passports on the same day using the same notary. Byrda was a stenographer and may have also worked at Bartlett. And during this period an application often included a wife--although Rosa is not named in the application. Here's the signature part of their applications.

John F. Salyer

Byrda McGauhey

Both were approved on April 2, 1900 along with Byrda's sister Opal's application which had been filed five days prior to Byrda's. Opal and Byrda had their passports mailed to their residence. J.F. had his mailed to the office. The three of them are missing from the 1901 directory for Los Angeles--perhaps they were out of the country?

J.F. was promoted from manager to Secretary of the business, and in 1906 when the Bartletts wished to retire due to health reasons, J.F. led a buyout of the Bartletts, subsequently installing himself as President of the business. No doubt success continued, as evidenced by the large advertisements posted in the L.A. Herald paper. This one took up 3/4 of the page.

Bartlett Ad 1908

J. F. in 1910
J.F. was a member of the Society clubs in town, including the Jonathan and City Clubs, and in 1910 he was found in the census residing at the Jonathan. Rosa was still at home with son Edwin, and the census indicated Rosa and J.F. were still married. But by 1912 they had divorced and J.F. had remarried. His new bride?  Byrda McGauhey. By 1915 it appeared that everyone had moved out of the house (the directory that year showed the only resident at 705 E. Adams was a  "Fremont Salyer, elev. opr.").

By 1920 J.F. and Byrda were living again in the house at 705 E. Adams. J.F. had decided to retire and they then traveled extensively.  By 1930 they were living in San Gabriel, although their voter registration in 1934 remained at 705 E. Adams.  They were registered as Democrats.

In the meantime since J.F.'s retirement, Bartlett Music seemed to fade away. Three locations in 1923 became zero locations by 1927, and both sons were no longer listed as working with music. Edwin became an insurance salesman and Roy became a carpenter, moving to San Clemente.

J.F. passed away in the late 1930's, and Byrda ultimately passed away in Ventura in 1950.

 And the house at 705 E. Adams? Gone and replaced by a commercial building.

705 E. Adams today (courtesy of Google Maps)
 But wait--there's hope...see the comments.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rose La Monte Burcham -- 4900 Pasadena Avenue

It's been a small sadness that each time a vintage photo is posted, that residence is only a memory for the most part. So it was quite a delight to find that today's home is still in place.

Our story begins in 1895, when Dr. Rose Burcham (1857-1944), the first woman doctor in San Bernardino, decided to grubstake her husband Charles (1856-1913) for a search in the Mojave desert for gold. He met up with two other miners, John Singleton and Fred Mooers (1847-1900), and they hit big-time paydirt--we know it today as the Yellow Aster mine, which yielded over $12 million through its 30+ year life. Charles split his one third with Rose, who was elected by the group as secretary to run the business end of the mine, which included numerous lawsuits and counterclaims. Rose's impact on the business end was such that in Charles's biographies of the era, her capabilities were often quoted.  Here's an example from a 1904 biography of Charles:

"Mrs. Burcham, who is a native of New York, of Scotch and French ancestry, has the dual distinction of having been the first woman physician in San Bernardino, California, and of being a directing force in the practical operation of a great gold mine. She had attained a prominent position in the medical profession, as physician and surgeon, before she became identified with her husband's mining enterprises and in the latter field has become noted as one of the most capable business women in the United States."

By 1900 both Fred Mooers and John Singleton owned elegant Los Angeles homes. Singleton purchased the Longstreet mansion just off West Adams (only the palms are left today on the site of the Orthopedic hospital), where Charles and Rose were recorded as living in the 1900 census. By 1907 the Burchams had purchased a large house of their own on the edge of town and remained there through the 1910 census. A photo below of the house then:
4900 Pasadena Avenue in 1910

Their neighbors included William J. Washburn, a prominent local banker who lived nine blocks south.

Dr. Rose Burcham in 1910
With Charles's death in 1913, only Rose was left of the original owners to the mine. Squabbling with the other partners' heirs was an ongoing theme, but Rose kept the mine operation together until 1918. The mine was reactivated in the early 1930's. It ultimately shut down in late 1996.

Rose moved from the Pasadena Avenue house to the city of South Pasadena around 1915, and then later to an address in Alhambra, where she died in February, 1944.  Her husband Charles is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.  Her burial site has not yet been confirmed.

Rose sold the house to another oilman, Nathan W. Hale. A former Congressman from Tennessee, he went west after losing re-election to the 1909 Congress. He formed Hale-McLeod Oil Company as well as engaging in local real estate. He left by 1930.

The house today is at 4900 Figueroa Street, as Pasadena Ave. was renamed. It is a building of Sycamore Grove School, a private, religious school associated with the Pillar of Fire Church. The exterior is relatively unmodified--the chimney is gone, and an enlargement of that section of the house can be seen in an aerial view of the property.
4900 N. Figueroa Recently
(courtesy of the author)

Rose Burcham--Men of Achievement in the Great Southwest
The Yellow Aster Mine--mineral resource of Kern County (1914)
A 1905 aerial of the neighborhood (our house is lower right)

Monday, October 31, 2011

W. D. Longyear -- 3555 Wilshire Boulevard

The career of Willis Douglas Longyear (1863-1941) shows what is possible if you start at the right place and work your way up in a good company. W.D. was born in Jackson County, Michigan, and after working at the Kalamazoo National Bank for five years, arrived in Los Angeles in 1889 to seek his fortune. He signed up with Security Savings Bank and was their bookkeeper and teller, moving up to Cashier and Secretary in January, 1895, a position he held for more than 20 years. Married to Ida Mackay of Nevada in 1893, they had a son Douglas (1893-1947) and a daughter Gwendolyn (1892-1982), both of whom lived in the L.A. area their entire lives.

The bank was growing rapidly, and with it W.D.'s fortunes. In 1906 the bank bought the Southern California Savings Bank (which included J.H. Braly, J.M. Elliott, and W.C. Patterson as owners and directors). In 1908 a large advertisement for one of W.D.'s side investments was published in the Los Angeles Herald--The Tourist Auto Vehicle Company--Made in Los Angeles:
November 15, 1908 ad in Los Angeles Herald
This was the same brand that was part of a deadly accident involving Mrs. Sherman Pease a few years earlier.

W.D. was also investing in real estate in the Wilshire corridor, and in 1907 he chose to build his new home on a lot there. As it looked in 1907:
3555 Wilshire Blvd. (at the corner with Ardmore)
In 1918 he became President of the California Bankers Association and gave an address at their 25th convention, held on Santa Catalina Island. And in 1922 the family (now including Douglas's wife Mary) took a tour of Hawaii. The next year he was promoted to Vice President at Security Trust & Savings.

By 1925 the family moved to a new home in Beverly Hills. Located at 721 North Beverly Drive, it became a part of Beverly Hills' social scene. One major celebration occurred on Armistice Day in 1925. A statue "Hunter and Hounds" purchased by Mr. Longyear while vacationing in France in 1924 was unveiled on the front lawn. The statue honored WWI veterans at the Second Battle of the Marne. For years afterward, city visitors came to see the statue--tour buses made it one of their stops. The statue was later donated to the city and relocated to Beverly Garden Park along Santa Monica Blvd.

W.D. in 1910
In 1929 the bank merged with Los Angeles First National Trust and Savings bank to form Security First National Bank, with W.D. continuing as Vice President. Security First became a very prominent Southern California bank through the 1950's and 60's.

Longyear was also an early backer of Douglas Aircraft, taking a significant stake in the company in 1927. At the time the main aircraft plant was just a few miles away in Santa Monica.

When Longyear sold the Wilshire Blvd. house, it was then occupied by Milnor Inc., a company known primarily for its Chinese rugs. Interestingly in 1936, a Los Angeles directory lists W.D. Longyear as a vice-president of Milnor, Inc.

Son Douglas went on to be an automobile dealer--he held the Packard franchise in Beverly Hills. W.D. and Ida passed away with a week of each other in March, 1941.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sherman Pease -- 640-646 S. Hill

Sherman Pease (1869-1950) arrived in Los Angeles with his parents in 1884.  He and brother Herbert joined father Niles Pease's furniture business, helping to create a very successful downtown enterprise.

A family at Eastlake Park, 1908, enjoying their "Tourist" automobile
(USC Digital Collections, Calif. Historical Society)
In 1895 Sherman wed Nellie Smith (1870-1905), and began their family, consisting of daughter Anita (1897- ) and son Niles (1904- ). By 1900 they were living on South Hope Street. Things were going so well that in March, 1905 Sherman purchased a new Tourist automobile, a locally manufactured brand, and the following Sunday, took Nellie for a drive, along with friends Mr. and Mrs. D. E. Welcome.  They traveled up today's Nichols canyon, then returned south back to Hollywood Blvd. The L.A. Herald described what happened next...

"The party turned just south of the Miller house, late yesterday afternoon, after a trip to the canyon, into a private road and started, toward Prospect  Boulevard. The road lay straight for nearly a mile, and the great machine responded with a burst of speed on the level stretch. To the left a clear view for some distance could be obtained, but a grove of lemon trees on the right obstructed a view of the track from Hollywood to the canyon. 
Mrs. Pease was in the tonneau and had no chance to escape. She was seated on the side toward the [street]car, and was hurled directly beneath the front trucks. Her body was carried down the tracks for nearly fifty feet." 

She died instantly.  Sherman was unconscious for two days, while Mrs. Welcome broke multiple ribs. Mr. Welcome, who was in the right front seat, saw the oncoming car and dove from the vehicle to the side of the tracks. He was uninjured. Sherman's father Niles returned immediately from a Mexico vacation to be at his side.
Sherman recovered.

In 1904 father Niles sold his interests in the furniture business and in February, 1905 formed Niles Pease Investment Company, with sons Sherman and Herbert as directors, along with oldest child Grace, and Sherman's mother Cornelia. In March, 1906, Sherman along with brother Herbert, severed connection with Niles Pease Furniture. Sherman in the article stated he needed rest and planned "to make a trip to the Orient".  Less than 40 days later they announced "the construction of an eight story steel and concrete building at 640 S. Hill, frontage 75 ft, and 145 ft deep." This was to become the new furniture business, Pease Brothers Furniture, who would rent the building being built by the Niles Pease Investment Company. That same year Sherman purchased a lot and residence at 1036 S. Alvarado for $7,500. The residence is still standing. A recent photo is below.

1036 S. Alvarado

Sherman (but not Herbert) decided to have himself added to the 1910 edition of Greater Los Angeles and Southern California. Father Niles had been in both the 1906 and 1910 versions. But Sherman, as president of Pease Brothers Furniture Company, decided to go with a photo of the new business building on Hill Street instead of his residence.  And so it was:

640-646 South Hill St. ca. 1910

Business appeared to be good. Sherman remarried.  The family changed residences to 1015 S. Western by 1915. Meanwhile around the corner from Pease Brothers at 7th and Broadway, Bullock's department store was growing by leaps and bounds. And so it was in 1917, when the Investment Company was offered $25,000 per year in rent for the building for each of the next 40 years, they took it.  Pease Brothers was no more. And $25,000? That works out to about $420,000 per year in 2010 dollars which was paid each year until 1958!

Pease Bros. 1913 w/ Bullock's around the corner

It is unknown how the money was divided. Sherman and Mary Ida moved on to Ocean Park Street in Santa Monica. By 1932 Sherman was a salesman at "The Furniture Shops".

And for you conspiracy theorists: Sherman, his older sister Grace, his older sister Jessie and his younger sister Anne ALL died in 1950. All but Sherman are buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

The furniture building, however lives on.  Today it's a part of St. Vincent Jewelry Center.

More info:
The building today (courtesy of flickr) --it's the one in the middle


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

E. H. Lahee -- 1018 South Magnolia

Mr. Lahee ca. 1895
Eugene Horace Lahee (1845-ca.1928), came to the Los Angeles area in 1898 from Chicago, deciding on Covina and purchasing a successful fruit farm. He was originally from Utica, New York, but attended Shurtleff College in Alton, Illinois (now part of the Illinois University system), where he probably met his wife Louise Clawson (1845-ca. 1928), who was born in Alton.  He was an active member in Sons of the American Revolution, where he had the small photo at right taken.

E. H. was elected mayor of Covina for six years, and as the head of the Pacific Electric right-of-way committee, he was critical in convincing landowners to provide right-of-way through El Monte to Covina. (Not everyone was happy though, as indicated by this lawsuit in 1909). As president of the local library association, he led the committee for Covina to procure a Carnegie Library for Covina (which they did), and went on to lead as chairman of the California Library Association.

So what did the Lahees do after all of this Covina success?  They retired to Los Angeles, of course, and settled in this lovely home on Magnolia Street.

1018 S. Magnolia St. in 1910

Odds are good that the Lahees are the ones in the image above. In 1910 the census lists the Lahees, a cousin and one servant in the house.

By 1920 though, retirement must have changed, as the Lahees have moved to 5th Avenue, and then again to 2119 1/2 South 3rd Avenue, where they're both last found in 1928.

And the house? By 1932 four people with different last names are to be found there--indicating it had become a rooming house. The house is found with people through the late 1980's, then the listing disappears from the directories.

Today the lot is the part of the playground for Leo Politi Elementary School, noted for its after-school program.

Today's neighborhood--the green arrow shows the approximate location of the old house.
(courtesy of Google Maps)

Monday, September 26, 2011

J.V. Vickers -- 624 West 28th Street

John Van Vickers (1850-1912) came to Los Angeles in 1899 after a colorful past in Tombstone, Arizona.  Seems J.V. was previously Cochise County Treasurer 1888 and 1895-1896. He was there during the Gunfight at the OK Corral, building a significant cattle business, including the Chiricahua Cattle Company, one of the largest in the West.

Originally from Pennsylvania, he moved to Illinois where he met and married Anna Childs (1855-1946), who along with their five daughters came to Los Angeles with him from Arizona. Daughters Florence (1873- ) and Dora (1876- ) attended school in Philadelphia, with Florence then attending and graduating from Bryn Mawr College.  Third daughter Lillian (1879-1901) also went to Bryn Mawr, but died from a tragic accident there in December, 1901. The accident was carried by the New York Times on their front page.
"At 8 o'clock Miss Vickers rose and retired to the bathroom, situated near her own apartment.  Half an hour later she came rusing forth enveloped in flames." She died by 1 o'clock without regaining consciousness. The Times delicately stated "...the victim had rubbed her body with alcohol, which in some way became ignited." 
The New York Evening World was less delicate in their assessment.

Evening World Article on Lillian Vickers' death

To this day "ghosts" supposedly haunt the Bryn Mawr Dormitory where the accident occurred.  Daughter #4, Anna (1882- ), did not attend Bryn Mawr, instead going to the local upstart Stanford, as did daughter #5 Clara (1886- ). They were both members of Delta Gamma sorority there.

After arriving in Los Angeles J.V. continued his cattle business, which included partnering  up with Walter Vail, who was also a major rancher in Arizona. Together they formed Vail & Vickers Company, purchasing Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara to raise cattle, which had previously been used for sheep ranching. The island became the last ranching enterprise on a Mexican Land Grant in California, and was run by a third-generation Vail descendant. In 1980 the island was declared part of Channel Islands National Park, and the Vail and Vickers Company knew it was inevitable they would lose the land. So in 1986 the partners sold the island to the federal government, with the caveat that the company could continue ranching for 25 years.  The federal government reneged via years of lawsuits  and forced the Vail family to stop ranching in 1998. Quoting from the linked article:

"At that point the name Santa Rosa became shorthand for government treachery within the Southern California agricultural community."

In 1904 J.V. led a syndicate which bought a large parcel of land in Orange County. Realizing they needed transportation to the area if they were to develop it, they succeeded in luring Henry Huntington to extend his extensive trolley network by providing him a significant share of the operation, and even renaming the area from Pacific Beach to Huntington Beach. Little did they know the amounts of money in the ground, which did not appear until the 1920's.

Around the same time J.V. purchased a house in fashionable West Adams from Max Meyburg, a well-known retailer and light manufacturer in town.  Max had had the house built sometime around 1898, but had decided to move a few blocks west. Our 1910 photo of the house looked like the below:

624 West 28th St. in 1910

J.V. in 1910
Now located in the new social center, two doors west were the Laughlin Jr. family, and the Vickers were just two blocks from Figueroa and West Adams. By this time (1910) Florence and Anna had married, Florence in 1905 to Franklin Allister McAllister, with two daughters, and one son. Anna about the same time married a Clarence Crawford from Oregon, whom she'd met while matriculating at Stanford. Clara still lived at home.

Then while celebrating the Christmas season at home on December 28, 1912, J.V. had a heart attack while playing dominoes with his family. Clara stayed on for awhile, marrying Roy Naftzger, a real estate broker, in 1920. Mother Anna C. continued to reside in the house until her death in 1946.

A sample bookplate
Daughters Clara and Anna founded a Memorial Book Fund at their alma mater in honor of their father.  Many of the books in the library provided by the fund carried their bookplate, indicating the donor.

The neighborhood had changed significantly since the Vickers purchase. By 1942 the house was surrounded by sororities and fraternities of USC, and after wife Anna's death, the house took its new place along Greek Row. In the 1950's AO Pi sorority was in the house.

AO Pi, Nov. 1951 in the front yard at 624 W. 28th St.

By 1962 Alpha Epsilon Phi moved into the house from their smaller location a block west, staying through the 1980's. Today the house still stands, its latest resident Beta Omega Phi, an Asian-American interest fraternity. The house's outline, while substantially altered, is easily identifiable.

Recently at 624 W. 28th St.
(courtesy of the author)

By January 2023 Beta Omega Phi had left the property.

Link checked 7/19/23

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

E. J. Brent of Berkeley Square

Born of British stock, Edwin James Brent (1856-1923) first came to America in 1870, living in Indianapolis for ten years. He returned to England, married Mary West (1865- ), and came back, this time to Los Angeles, to seek fame and fortune. In 1890 he started a second-hand furniture store on the southwest corner of West 4th & Spring Streets. Business was good--within four years he opened a second location across the street in the same block.  In 1896 he moved another block south to larger digs at 538 South Spring Street in the Chauvin Building. A new building went up next door to the north in 1898, so the business relocated again. He remained thrifty with his business still, residing upstairs with Mary at that same location.

Bit by bit the business grew, but it was definitely under the town's business radar as articles about the Brents were few and far between. The business ultimately moved to 712 S. Main in 1905, where it remained until E.J.'s death in the early 1920's. Perhaps that business move was the driving force for E.J. to seek residence quarters apart from his business location.  They had their ultimate mansion constructed in a very fashionable gated community in West Adams known as Berkeley Square.  That new house hit the newspaper real estate section, and after that it was Society pages galore for Mary.

The house appears like a Craftsman on steroids.  Sitting in the middle of the block, the design of the house created odd lines when viewed as a photograph. Here it is a year or so after building...
#20 Berkeley Square ca. 1909

E.J. in 1910

The entry hall
The house received extensive coverage in the June, 1909 issue of Western Architect, with photos showing off the entry hall, dining room and exterior of the house.

And if you thought E.J. and Mary needed the large house for their large family you'd be half right--if you call servants family. Their one child E.J. Jr. (b.1903) lived there with four in-house servants.

Life seemed good for the Brents. "Brent's Great Credit House", as the business was known in local directories, continued to prosper while the family took multiple vacations, including recorded trips to Panama in 1913, and Hawaii in 1922.  One newspaper article in 1910 mentioned they "motored down to Coronado Beach last Tuesday for a week's vacation. Mr. Brent is enjoying the many beautiful auto drives in this vicinity and into the San Diego "back country" and across the line into Old Mexico."

1909 L.A. Directory Ad (courtesy of
After E.J.'s passing, Mary remained in the house with her son for a couple of years more. She moved for awhile to 501 S. Manhattan, before settling down by 1930 across the street in a new fourplex at 456 S. St. Andrews Place, on the northeast corner of St. Andrews and 5th Street. The census reported her as renting at $75/month, an odd choice for one who should be able to easily own her abode. She disappears from the record by 1944.

One doesn't know if the house had been sold or 1928 Winfield Scott, a local photographer, was living there with his daughter Margaret, who was listed as "artist" in 1928, and "photographer" in 1930 records. Interestingly, Mr. Scott was renting the grand house for $75/month in 1930, the same amount Mary Brent was paying over on St. Andrews Place.

By 1932 Scott had left, and a Leonard Bowie arrived, staying through 1934--then no resident can be found until 1946, when Vida Woelz turns up, joined by her husband John in 1948.

By the early 1960's a threat to all the houses in Berkeley Square appeared.  A new freeway starting at the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) went west all the way to Santa Monica, exiting at the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. And the eminent domainers targeted the northern half of the Berkeley Square subdivision for its trip through the West Adams area. By 1965 a new eight-lane freeway began to shoot drivers (except during rush hour) across Berkeley Square at 65+ MPH. And 20 Berkeley Square had become history.

Additional information:
More on Berkeley Square
A postcard showing Brent's Spring Street store

A New Bit of Information: 

One of the challenges of following the life of a house without photos is determining what really happened to the house.  Here's a theory for this one.

The house appeared to have stood empty through the late '30s and early '40s. And while I didn't write about in the above, others have mentioned that a #20A appears for this Berkeley Square address by the 1940's.  Take a close look at the images below.  The 1921 Sanborn map has been placed above an aerial of the neighborhood taken in 1948. Our #20 lot line has been superimposed on the aerial photo in the lower half.  #20 in the aerial photo appears to be half gone--the entire eastern portion missing, the portico removed--and a new house at the rear of the lot appears with a sidewalk coming in from the street. Perhaps that's the answer.  Even before I-10 sent this house to oblivion, perhaps someone else did, turning it into two houses.

1921 vs. 1948 Berkeley Sq. 
 Sanborn map courtesy of Proquest Sanborn Maps

It turns out there was an updated Sanborn map done in 1951 which confirms the above.

Two homes now on lot #20

Next Up:
The Man Who Owned Santa Rosa Island

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

830 Sierra Madre Avenue, Glendora

As we venture deeper into the book, we find more "special" pages.  Today's client, Charles Henry Converse (1856-1912), not only paid for his photo and his house photo, he had a second photo put in of his building in downtown Glendora--understanding that Glendora wasn't yet incorporated, but was already known for its pepper trees and citrus farms.

C. H.was born in Iowa City, Iowa, moving to California first in 1878 to Mariposa, then he returned to Iowa to graduate from the University of Iowa in 1882, and receive his law degree from there in 1884. By 1902 he returned to California, first in Merced, then later in Pasadena before settling on Glendora, where he remained until his untimely death in 1912. His Glendora house was located on 20 acres of orange trees, containing about 3,000 sq. ft., with 5 bedrooms. In 1909/1910 great views surrounded the home as seen by the image below:

830 Sierra Madre Avenue in 1910
He lived there with his wife Flora, two sons and three daughters. In Glendora, C.H. was part of numerous enterprises including First National Bank, First Savings Bank, Glendora Light and Power, Glendora Irrigating Company and Glendora Water Company. His office as attorney was located in his 1905-built building, the Converse Block. The two-story structure with retail below and offices above, was located in the center of downtown, next to the soon-to-arrive P.E. line from L.A. to San Bernardino. In 1910 a photographer took this view:

159 North Michigan  in 1910
Window Mystery Man
A peek at the above image shows a couple of interesting items.  The persian-type domed device out front was a water fountain, erected by the Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1909. The street side was for watering horses, the building side had a fountain for pedestrians. The upper corner office facing the photographer probably belonged to C.H. himself.  With the sign "Lawyer" in the window, and a man next to it with the window open holding a large cane or similar object out the window--it could only be our subject.

Pres. Diaz and C.H. , 1911
In 1911 C.H. was to face a new challenge. The Mexican revolution was underway and C.H.'s wayfaring son Lawrence seemed to want to be a part of it. On Sunday, February 20 Lawrence was with another man visiting a ranch very close to the border just southeast of El Paso near the small town of Tornilo. The men were resting their horses awaiting lunch when, according to news reports, three men captured them, tied them up and forced them to wade the Rio Grande river where they were turned over to soldiers hiding in the woods.  From there they were taken to Guadeloupe and then on to Juarez, where they were imprisoned. C.H. was notified of his son's peril, and immediately went to Juarez, securing admission to the prison and creating enough turmoil with the Mexican government to attract the attention of Mexican president Diaz, who invited C.H. to his palace in Mexico City to discuss it. The president volunteered to direct the general in charge to return Lawrence (and all other Americans in the prison) to C.H. This all took place just prior to the Battle of Juarez, in which the city and the prison were battered into fragments.

During this period the Converse's three daughters all attended Pomona College in Claremont. To be nearer to them, C.H. and Flora rented a cottage there. Then in 1912 disaster struck.  C.H. was driving from his office enroute to the Claremont cottage when he missed noticing a Santa Fe train on its crossing at Loraine Street, wrecking the car and pinning C.H. between the train engine and the top of the auto. He had fractured his skull and died before he could be taken to a hospital. He was later extolled in the local newspaper, the Glendora Gleaner, which recognized him as "one of Glendora's most valued and highly esteemed citizens." He is buried in nearby Oakdale Cemetery.

The house with its 20 acres of orange trees was sold. Flora moved to Pasadena, son Earnest and daughter Hazel became lawyers, son Lawrence moved to Cuba. But interestingly both the house and the commercial building survive today.  First--the house:

According to Zillow, the house has had the same owners since 1984. The surrounding acreage has long since been sold, but the current lot size far exceeds its neighbors. And the Converse Block? It has been known for years as the Nelson Building:

Train Kills a Lawyer - N.Y. Times (PDF)
(photo of Diaz courtesy of

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2433 South Flower -- Mission Style

While your author is not any kind of amateur architect, this house's style was not difficult to figure out. Check out this side-by-side comparison:

Built in 1901, this house has the distinction of being listed in a 1906 version of the original book with one owner, then under a different owner in 1910. The first owner was Reuben G. Simons, part of a successful brick-making family. He moved in in 1901 with three sons John W., Ralph, and Harold W.  The house ca. 1905:

 (courtesy of

The house was built on an unusually large lot, with additional living in back, as well as two flats out of frame left in the photo above. 

In 1906 Simons sold the house to Wiltcie B. Ames (1869-1942), a Wisconsin-born, self-made lawyer who came to Los Angeles in 1905 via Spokane and Oregon, where he picked up his law degree at the University of Oregon.  One of his early businesses was the Ames Mercantile Agency which figured prominently in his life a few years later.

About this same time C.C. Pierce was taking many fabulous photos of the area of residences in the new areas of L.A. south of downtown along Figueroa. One of them was the Ames residence, taken between 1906 and 1908.

2433 S. Flower ca. 1907
(courtesy of USC Digital Collections)

As can be seen above, the house added a new awning and a small border for a flower bed underneath the front porch since the last "viewing". No doubt it comfortably fit Wiltcie, his wife Caroline Rachel (1873-1921) and their three children.

When Ames was approached to be in the Greater Los Angeles and Southern California book, 1910 version, someone must have promised a new photo, for this is what was posted:
Wiltcie B.Ames Residence 1910
An auto was added, the side yard was cut back, and plants now appear under the front porch and window. But a funny thing happened on the way to publishing.  Seems that in July, 1909 Ames decided to do a swap sale on the house.  He sold it to Joseph Metzler of Metzler Investment company for $48,000, which included the building next door, which seemed a bit overpriced until one reads a few columns over.  It seems that "W.B. Ames, president of the City and County bank, has added to his country holdings by the purchase of a 40-acre alfalfa and apple ranch belonging to Joseph Metzler of the Metzler Investment company, to add to his investment in a fruit farm in San Dimas. The price, $80,000, includes stock and personal property." Why would you pay $80,000 in 1909 for a ranch located five miles from Victorville? I don't know the details either, but the answer may lie in the next found article about Mr. Ames.

In August, 1910 W.B., as part owner of the L.A. Savings, Mortgage, and Trust company, was sued by the state attorney general alleging that state commissioners for the building and loans "found its business unsafe and unauthorized."  They declared the concern insolvent, and asked that no business be transacted until the court heard the case. By this time W.B. and family were living in the bay area--it must have been too hot to stay in L.A. By September W.B.'s banking business appeared to be "out of business." By 1916, W.B. and family show up at the family fruit farm in San Dimas, where W.B. lived until the death of wife Ethel in 1921.

Meanwhile Irving and Hannah Metzler (relations, no doubt to Joseph) lived at 2433 S. Flower. They move on and in 1922 Arthur and Guadalupe Wright move in, where they remain past Arthur's passing during WWII.

The Los Angeles Children's Orthopedic Hospital, established about 10 years after our house was built, slowly over time took over the block on the east side of Flower Street, changing its character. That and the Harbor Freeway were probable major factors in the demolition of the house by 1956.  Today it would be found over the Harbor Freeway just before it cuts under Flower Street.

2433 S. Flower St. today--about where you see the star.

A fanciful W.B. Ames in 1910

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

William G. Bradshaw -- 338 South Alvarado

According to his entry in Greater Los Angeles--Portraits and Personal Memoranda, William Bradshaw (1861-1911) was a  "promoter and largest owner of Wilshire Blvd. Heights, a high-grade subdivision situated in the western portion of the city, corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Vermont Ave. Has always made a specialty of first-class residence and business property; also extensively interested in oil and mining properties. By years of square dealing has created a reputation for honesty and reliability not excelled by any one in the community."

Relying on that reputation no doubt contributed to the ability for him and his family to own in 1906, this beautiful house on Alvarado Street, a few blocks from Westlake (today MacArthur) Park:

338 South Alvarado Street
Listed in the 1910 census as being in the house with William were his wife Nellie (1866- ), daughter Myrtle (1886- ), son William H. (1889- ), and younger daughter Hazel (1894- ).

But not all was roses for Bradshaw. In early 1909 Bradshaw appeared as a witness for a contested will hearing.  It seems that Robert (or Richard, depending on your paper of choice) Crawford Smith, who had done quite a few deals with Bradshaw, had added a couple of codicils to his will just prior to his death in 1907, and named Bradshaw a paid executor. So Mr. Bradshaw was brought into court to testify, listed by the L.A. Times as "one of the best-known mining men and oil operators in this city", where he spoke of his relationship with Smith. It seems that Smith's codicils provided about $17,000 to three mediums located in the city, who needed the money more than Mr. Smith's relatives. Bradshaw spoke before the court of his believing in the three seances he attended with Mr. Smith, following testimony by former mediums exposing seances as shams.

He appears to have emerged with reputation intact.

Then in the summer of 1911, Bradshaw went to Washington state, but on his return he didn't make it back to L.A. The San Francisco Call posted this headline:
July 27, 1911
According to the article, Bradshaw was alone on deck off the coast of Mendocino, when he pulled a pistol and shot himself in the heart. There were no witnesses--he was found later lying on a coil of rope on the after-deck. The article mentions he was noted as being morose, but did not accept any offer of aid.

Wm. Bradshaw in happier times
By 1915 the Bradshaw family had moved to 8th Street, a couple of blocks away. They remained in the neighborhood for many, many years, with Hazel marrying a Mr. Hallman, then divorcing, and returning to live out back at 737 1/2 Lake Street with mother Nellie along with grandaughter Larnita. Myrtle married a Mr. Joseph but she too, by 1930, was back in the house at 737 S. Lake. It appears son William never left.

That same year widow Jennie Hohmann moved in to the 338 S. Alvarado residence with her two daughters and a son. They stayed a short period, and by 1920 the house was rented to a Virginia Cobbe. She turned the home into multi-family, and rented to five others.

Then in 1922, William and Emma Blaikie, he an architect, she listed as housewife, moved in. But William dies by 1928, and Emma ran the place again as a rooming house, according to the 1930 census.

The house remained as rooms to let, right up to its demise in 1964. In 1961 there was only one roomer listed with a phone,  Mrs. Rose Gottdank--she may have been the only roomer in the building. Then in 1965 a new building is listed, the L.A. Convalescent Center which today is the Country Villa Rehabilitation and Nursing Home, a five-story apartment-type building.

Some side stories:
Lewis Austin steals Bradshaw's auto--1910
An aerial of the neighborhood in 1936--the house was out of frame by two houses to the right...(courtesy of USC digital collections)
Today at 338 S. Alvarado (courtesy of Google Maps) 
A squabble over an inheritance at 338 S. Alvarado

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

George W. Adams -- 1645 Huntington Drive

George Adams (1865-aft 1947) arrived in Los Angeles in 1902 with his family consisting of wife Iva Binford (1871-1948), and daughters Florence E. (1897-1964) and Maude (1900- ).  George and Iva knew about Los Angeles as they were married there in 1896 while they were residents of Estherville, Iowa, where George had his law practice. George had graduated from the University of Iowa Law School in 1891--the 1906 Iowa Alumnus thought George at the time was "a fruit farmer in L.A.".  Turned out there was another George Adams in Massachusetts who was very well known for his beekeeping, but that's another story.

The family settled in South Pasadena at 1645 Huntington Drive. In 1909-1910 the residence looked like the below:

The Adams Family on Huntington Drive

Florence and Maude?
The photo shows two children in the front yard--it's very possible you see a childhood photo of Maude and Florence, who would have been nine and 12 years old at the time.  Directly behind the photographer on Huntington was the Pacific Electric Railway line which went downtown to 6th and Hill, which when followed by a short walk to the Van Nuys building, one could visit George in his office as part of the Adams, Adams, and Binford law firm.  While the "Binford" was George's brother-in-law Lewis, there is no listing for any other law-partner-Adams in L.A.'s directories of the era other than George.

Life was good for the Adams family--the L.A. Herald reported that same August they were "returning home from a month in Venice, and are leaving soon for Tahoe".  No mention of which Venice... By 1915 they had moved to the newly fashionable west side at 663 South Westmoreland Ave. and then in 1920 were residing at the Garden Court Apartments and Hotel on fashionable Hollywood Boulevard.

George's work must have been mostly usual stuff, nothing that would land him in the newspapers of the day. His only easily accessible appellate appearance came in 1920. Evidently Mrs. Minnie Ong had George write up a deed of her house, which Mrs. Ong gave to her housemaid Jennie Cole, with the intention of her taking the house after her death. The house must have been worth something because the Ong descendants descended on the courts to get the deed declared void. George was called to testify. And while the account doesn't mention it, this was probably a family feud, as Mrs. Ong may have been a close relation, since Iva's mother's maiden name was Ong. Jennie got to keep the house.

Still listed as an attorney in 1946 after 44 years in L.A., George and Iva by then were living at 3614 Country Club Drive. Iva was to pass away just two years later.

And what of our house on Huntington Drive? When the Adams' moved out, the Stamps family moved in. Lucius was retiring from his Downey farming business, and Eleanor, along with daughters Addie, Pearl, and Mary, and Eleanor's mother Susan all lived on Huntington from 1916 through the early '20s.  Evidently South Pasadena did not suit them as they had moved back to Downey by 1924, where Lucius had kept a real estate office.

Below is a photo taken of the Huntington neighborhood in 1926. The house at the right behind the palm trees is 1645 Huntington--its outline has changed as after the Stamps family left, it was converted to multi-family, with a noticeable add-on at the right rear. This crossing had both a Pacific Electric line at 90 degrees to the photo, but also there is a Southern Pacific R.R. crossing from right foreground to left background at the same intersection, which continued south to run along the east side of Alhambra Park.
1926 Looking South on Marengo across Huntington (courtesy of USC digital Collections)

The house has remained throughout the years, watching as Huntington Drive became a main auto conduit to San Marino, watching as the P.E. line tracks were pulled, and watching as the S.P. tracks were yanked.  Today, it looks like this:
A recent shot of 1645 Huntington Drive
(courtesy of the author)

The old S.P. right-of-way is still visible out of frame to the left.

The house has seen a lot of change in its 100+ years of life.

Other images:
P.E. Crossing detail at Marengo & Huntington Dr. 1926
The book's photo of G.W. in 1910
A brief write-up in California of the South, 1933