Monday, February 28, 2011

Paul de Longpre -- The King of Flower Painters

Updated 2/7/23

Ah, the King of Flower Painters, or so it reads in a 1904 article about Paul de Longpre, French artist and Hollywood resident. His three-acre garden site at 1741 N. Cahuenga Blvd, took up almost half the block beginning at Hollywood Blvd. northbound, and became one of the first tourist attractions in Los Angeles.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1899, de Longpre decided to make it permanent. In 1900 he bought the site in "Cahuenga Valley", and had built this mission style mansion, designed by Louis J. B. Bourgeois, a Canadian architect and sculptor.

Visitors so overwhelmed the property the family had to close touring the house beginning in 1909, and the gardens ultimately were limited to being open only January-April. The popularity of his estate can still be witnessed by the thousands of postcards created from photos of the house and gardens. A quick search of 'de Longpre postcard' on the internet yields many colorful results.

Our photo of the de Longpre Mission-Style Mansion in 1910

Paul de Longpre ca. 1906

Paul de Longpre, born in 1855 in Lyon, began painting at 12 years of age, marrying at 19, and proudly boasted his first painting in a Paris Salon in 1876. He left France after a financial failure of a Paris bank left him without money, coming to New York in 1890 to do commissions. His successes resulted in the first flower-painting exhibit in New York in 1896.  His paintings (most in watercolor) continued to gain in popularity, and he took his newfound wealth to go to Los Angeles where he could paint flowers year-round. With his wife Josephine they were the parents of three children, and became a key part of the social scene in Hollywood. One grand celebration was held in 1909 when "the tunnel" was completed in downtown Los Angeles, reducing ride time on the P.E. car to Hollywood by twelve minutes. The house was a main tourist stop on the line. 

In September, 1910, de Longpre became hospitalized with a serious middle ear infection  requiring surgery, from which he never recovered. By February, 1911 he was bedridden, and died at his home June 29, 1911.

By September his widow had moved to a new home on Cahuenga. It turned out the house was the majority value of his $60,000 estate, which was given to Josephine. 

By 1920 the house was in use by a French art dealer. But the house had been sold, and later that same year it was demolished. It had lasted less than 20 years.

The end in 1920 for the de Longpre Mansion
(USC Digital Collections and CHS)

By 1951 we end up with essentially what we have today. The area is commercial buildings and parking lots. The building apparently bisected by the old north property line was in 1951 a bus station (the L-shaped part). In the 2010's it was something called "Halo" and then "The Colony". By 2021 it appears boarded up. Amazingly the five apartment buildings west of the northwest corner of the lot, built between 1913 and 1919, still remain.

(image updated 2/7/2023 thanks to a sharp-eyed commenter--below)

Below is a sample of Paul de Longpre's art (courtesy of

Roses and Bumblebees 1898

Roses and Bumblebees 1899

Here are a couple of postcards that give some idea of the beauty of the gardens. On the back of one, written in May, 1908, the writer states " This must be the most beautiful spot on earth."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

William H. Vedder -- 400 N. Madison Ave., Pasadena

Today's beauty was the pride of former mayor and successful Pasadena banker William H. Vedder. 

Married to Hattie Furbeck, both were from New York and came to Pasadena in 1889, after a successful run in the lumber business in Schenectady. Living with daughter Grace and a servant, here's their home as it looked in 1906:

400 North Madison in 1906
After serving as mayor in 1903-1904, William continued in business as Director, First National Bank, President of Pasadena Savings and Trust Co. and Director of the Pasadena Masonic Temple Assn. In most of the 1910's he was on the board of the Throop Polytechnic Institute, known today as Cal Tech. 

In 1903 a book on Pasadena Residences was published; the Vedders lived at the same location but check out the house photo shown below:

(courtesy of

It appears the house was greatly remodeled in the short time they lived there. The Sanborn map of the area for 1903 shows an empty lot. The 1910 version shows the large bay window, which is not there in 1903. But even with the major remodeling they were soon to move. They located at 424 Arroyo Terrace in 1907, probably awaiting the completion of their new house a few blocks away at 500 Prospect Square (now Prospect Blvd.) A contemporary image of the Prospect Blvd. house is below.

500 Prospect Boulevard Today
But by 1920 the Vedders had moved again and were living next door to daughter Marguerite and her husband Stanford Dalrymple, along with their children. In November, 1923 William passed away after taking care of Hattie for over a year as her health deteriorated. Hattie died two months later. They were both age 61.

The Madison house was demolished for twin apartment houses on the double lot.

Old Homes of Los Angeles W. H. Vedder

Friday, February 18, 2011

John H. Braly--Los Angeles

Updated 3/13/17

John Hyde Braly was age 73 when he and his wife Martha moved to their new house in Pasadena in October, 1909. Their one son (Arthur) and his wife joined them the following year, and in the 1910 census they are listed along with five servants. The elder Bralys had just finished a world tour which began the year before in August, ending in April, 1909. And before that they had lived with Arthur at his residence at 991 Arapahoe, a few houses north of their residence at 1025 Arapahoe, which they put up for sale after moving in in 1906. The Bralys did move around--A LOT. 

In 1902 they had purchased (for the second time) in St. James Park, but after less than 18 months, they sold. For awhile they were in a hotel (according to another source), and were out of the country from May, 1905 through August. That November it was announced they had plans for a new two-story dwelling at 10th and Arapahoe, which they moved into later that year.
Mr. Burdette, editor of our primary source book, first published a 1906 edition before the 1910 edition your author references. For this 1906 edition Mr. Burdette evidently needed to get his photographer out to take Mr. Braly's house photo prior to the Arapahoe house being finished. So the question was--what house does he take a photo of? Well you see it below. The same photo was used in both editions.

The Braly house for the 1906 and 1910 Burdette publication

The house's location turns out to be a mystery. Using Sanborn maps as a guide, your author thought at first the house could have been a mis-addressed home in St. James Park, but upon further inspection, that turned out to not be the case. 32 St. James Park did not have a retaining wall out front (as seen in the left foreground of the shot below), and 38 St. James Park, where they were known to live in 1904, was not on a corner. And while 991 Arapahoe was on a corner, the house's outline was nothing like the image above.

34 St. James Park--38 St. James Park in the background

And so we have a mystery house.

But enough on the house--more on the Bralys.

John Braly, along with his son Arthur, was instrumental in creating the first Los Angeles skyscraper at 4th and Spring Streets downtown. As part owners of the Southern California Savings Bank, they convinced the board to build a new 12 storey steel building, which the board then named in their honor. Today the building still stands as the Continental building, and its erection stirred the L.A. City Council to pass a height ordinance that stood until the early 1960's.

The Bralys were closely involved in both family and business with the Janss family, a developer prominent in early 20th century Los Angeles. John's son Harold was married to Etta Janss, while John's daughter Emma was married to Herman Janss. This ad taken from the March, 1906 L.A. Herald, gives some idea of the relationships.

In 1912 John Braly documented much of his life in an autobiography which followed his journey to California in 1847 and his ultimate settling in Los Angeles in 1891. It includes photographs of the family--here are two of daughter Emma and her developer husband.
Emma Braly-Janss and her husband Herman Janss in 1912.

And the house above? Show us your searching skills by identifying it with a comment below...good luck!
If you're first, the author will gift you your choice of the two postcards shown on the DeLongpre page. Judgment of accuracy is strictly at the whim of the author.

And for reading this far, enjoy this short excerpt from a Harold Lloyd movie showing the neighborhood. The home on the right is 34 St. James Park.

St. James Park in 1919.
Old Homes of Los Angeles

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Niles Pease -- 957 South Hoover

In 1910 Niles Pease (1838-1921) retired as President of the L.A. City Council, and retired to his handsome new home built for his family at 957 South Hoover.  When the census came by that year, all four daughters Grace, Jessie, Anne, and Florence, lived in the home with Niles and wife Cornelia.

It was finished just in time for the Peases to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, as announced in the Los Angeles Herald on March 25th. They stayed on this home through Niles' death in 1921. When Cornelia died in 1927, Grace took over responsibilities as head of the house.

The family had to move when they sold their old home at 719 So. Hill Street to the L.A. Express newspaper, who put up their new office building on the lot.

Born in Thompsonville, Conn., in 1838, Niles came to Los Angeles in 1884, after a successful retail business in Thompsonville, and immediately entered the furniture and carpet business just one month after his arrival. By 1897, he owned the Niles Pease Furniture Company in downtown Los Angeles, where he sold stuff like baby strollers--check out this 1900 model as seen in Out West Magazine in February of that year.

Here's a photo of the store ca. 1900 

Spring at 4th Streets (courtesy

Then in 1904, Niles set up a new company, Niles Pease Investments, involving his two sons Herbert and Sherman. In 1906 he sold the furniture business to them, which they moved to a new eight-story building in the 600 block of South Hill Street, and leased from the owner. If you guessed the owner was Niles Pease Investments--you would be correct.

Below is a photo of Niles and Cornelia in 1910, as printed in the L.A. Herald.

Niles and Cornelia Pease on their 50th Anniversary

The Pease Bros. furniture building at 640-646 S. Hill is still there today, but didn't hold a furniture business all that long. See this writeup on son Sherman Pease for details.

Daughter Grace continued to live in the house until her death in 1950.

957 South Hoover today (courtesy of