Sunday, April 24, 2011

William G. Nevin -- 700 South Garland

This next house really points out how much Los Angeles has grown in the last 100 years. Today's corner of Garland and 7th Street looks like this:

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Tall commercial buildings abound, with no residences in sight.

But back in 1900 when the Nevin family had recently moved in to their new home, the neighborhood was quite different. William G. Nevin (1855-1902) was General Manager of the Santa Fe railroad, appointed in 1897 after a tour in Chicago as Purchasing Manager for the company, capping a long career in railroading.  In the house in 1900 were his wife Ella (b. 1854), son William (b. 1881), and daughter Helen (b. 1889). Back then the southeast corner of the intersection looked like this:

700 S. Garland in 1906
Nevin in 1901*
Along with railroading, William (both father and son) invested in L.A. real estate.  The Nevin tract located near 23rd St. and Gramercy was their offering.  Son William and his family lived on a parcel in the tract through the 1920's at 2270 W. 23rd St.

Unfortunately in 1902 at age 47, William Sr. had a heart attack at his home and died the next day.  His burial location is not currently known. Wife Ella remained in the house well past 1910.

*As printed in Men of the Pacific Coast, 1902 (copy at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eli P. Clark -- Saint James Park

The Pasadena & L.A. Electric in 1906
Figueroa at Marmion Way (3)

Eli P. Clark (1847-1931) arrived in Los Angeles in 1891 at the behest of his partner, long-time friend, and brother-in-law General Moses Sherman. The two partners had just grown a successful mercantile business in Prescott, Arizona Territory, along with a railroad from Prescott to Seligman (Prescott & Arizona RR) when Gen. Sherman (so named because he was the adjutant general for the Arizona Territory) heard that cable-car interests in Los Angeles were encountering difficulty because of sand and water getting into the cable systems. Sherman knew that New York was having success with new "electric" trolleys, which were cheaper to operate and build. Immediately Clark and Sherman went to L.A. and purchased multiple short lines to form the Los Angeles Consolidated Railway, installing Sherman as President and Clark as Vice-President. Shortly after that they created the first interurban railway, the Pasadena & Los Angeles Electric Railway. Newspaper cartoonists in 1900 had this view of his company. Selling it to Henry Huntington in 1901, Clark continued to run it until 1909, when it was sold to the Southern Pacific.

Around 1904 the Clarks wished to move from their house at 823 W. 23rd to something more luxurious. A prime lot on the north side of prestigious St. James Park was available, and so by 1906 they had moved in.

9 St. James Park, taken from across the street at 20 St. James Pk.

The family lived here until the death of Lucy H. (Sherman) Clark in 1942, celebrating marriages of their daughters, engagement parties, and other social events in the house. Daughter Mary Sherman's wedding to Henry Eversole in 1910 was officiated by the Reverend Robert J. Burdette, whose book the house photo came from. Son Eugene and his wife lived next door to the north for more than 20 years.

And though retired, in 1911 Eli Clark funded the building of his namesake Hotel Clark, which was an early user of concrete in larger buildings.

Sherman and Clark were partners for most of their lives.  They ended up dying within a year of each other, and have a shared tombstone at Forest Lawn Glendale. Clark's wife Lucy and Sherman's daughter Hazeltine are also interred there.
From Men of the Pacific Coast, 1902

The house was eventually demolished and is now incorporated into a nearby Los Angeles school.

1.  L.A. from the Mountains to the Sea
2. (biography)
3. Photo from Pacific Electric; Donald Duke; 1958; An L.A. bound car is crossing the Los Angeles and Salt Lake R.R. tracks, which previously ran down the east side of Figueroa, turning east at York Blvd. to cross the Arroyo Seco. The bridge for the Pacific Electric ran across the arroyo a block south. 

1. A brief video from 1919 showing the main intersection in St. James Park

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Samuel Allerton--1025 Highland Street, S. Pasadena

It once took up half the block, and it was only the winter home for Samuel (1829-1914) and Agnes Allerton.

Samuel had made his money in Illinois, creating the Union Stockyards, as well as the First National Bank of Chicago. And by 1900, with two grown children, Kate (1864-1937) and Robert (1873-1964), they were searching to avoid the harsh Illinois winters. The children's mother was actually Pamilla W. Thompson, who passed away in 1880, whereupon two years later Samuel married her younger sister Agnes. Their wedding silverware was recently posted for sale. Interestingly, Agnes was living with the family in 1880 in Chicago. The Agnes Allerton wing of the Art Institute of Chicago was funded in her name by stepson Robert. Daughter Kate and her second husband Hugo Johnstone, came to reside in the Pasadena area after Samuel and Agnes settled there. Kate passed away in Pasadena on December 31, 1937. She is buried in the family plot at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

Sometime around 1904 Samuel had this California style stucco home built. Located on Highland Street, it actually faced south to Buena Vista. A more accurate address would have been 1020 Buena Vista.

The Allerton winter home ca. 1906

The house on the left still exists at the corner of Buena Vista and Meridian. The Allerton house was destroyed and the lot was subdivided and six houses now stand where the Allerton home once did.

It was said, according to one biography in 1903, that Samuel was the third richest man in Chicago. How rich was he? The New York Times reported that his estate was worth $20 million when he passed away in 1914.

1. New York Times, March 17, 1914
2. Prominent and Progressive Americans, 1903

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Joseph Scott -- 2620 West Eighth Street

Born in England, Joseph Scott (1867-1958) attended school there, then emigrated to America in 1889. One account mentions that because of his Catholic religion, he believed he would have greater opportunity in the U.S. In 1893 he arrived in Los Angeles, and in 1894 passed the bar and became a Los Angeles-based attorney. In 1898 he married Bertha, a California native, and their first son Joseph, Jr. was born the next year.

By 1904 he was well established, and ran for the city Board of Education, a post he would keep through 1915. The family moved often in the 1900's, first living on E. 36th St., then in 1906 moving to Hoover and Eighth Street as his family continued to grow. The house appears below:

Scott Residence - 2620 W. Eighth St.
As a school board member, he had a vested interest in local schools since in 1909, after moving to 984 Elden Ave.,  there were now seven children and three servants living in the house.

In December, 1909 tragedy struck the family as Joseph, Jr. was bitten by a "tramp" dog. Its teeth scratched Joseph's calf, but healed quickly. The children came down with measles in January, which caused a quarantine for the house, and only in mid-February was Joseph then allowed to play outside. Appearing fine on Sunday, late that night the child became "unconscious and in convulsions." By noon Monday he was dead. It was, according to the news, only the second time someone had died of rabies in California. The child's service was held at the house with burial at Calvary Cemetery.

Scott in 1906
In 1911 Scott took on his most famous law case, assisting Clarence Darrow in the defense of the McNamara brothers, who were accused of blowing up the Los Angeles Times building, killing 21 people, in a battle over unions. Advised not to take the case because of the damage it would cause to his reputation, he did anyway. In an interview in the 1950's he mentioned part of his reason was because of the Irish-Catholic heritage of the McNamaras. After the trial, Harrison Otis, publisher of the Times continued to vilify Scott, who collected the articles for future use, and in 1915, after stepping down from the Board of Education, sued Otis for slander, winning a $47,000 judgment upheld by the California Supreme Court. According to an L.A. Times article, Scott kept a copy of the check on his library wall the rest of his life.

Known as "Mr. Los Angeles", Scott lived well into his nineties, passing away in 1958. The funeral services included attendance by the governor of California. He is buried in the mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery, on the upper level, along with wife Bertha.

In 1962 admirers raised money to commission a statue of Scott to be erected in the Los Angeles Civic Center. The original sculptor Carl Romanelli did not do the casting as only $25,000 of the estimated $40,000 needed was provided. A second sculptor stepped in to finish the piece, and made two small alterations from the original clay cast, which upset Romanelli to the point where he would not allow his name to be affiliated with the casting.

And the lot where the house once stood...
courtesy of Google maps

Scott statue moved 2008
A suggestion on where to move the Scott statue 2008

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

L. T. Garnsey -- 2241 West 24th Street

Lehman T. Garnsey (1846-1916) first appears in the Los Angeles area in 1887, when he shows up as President of the Providencia Water, Land, and Development Company, which platted the city of Burbank. According to a biography published in the L.A. Herald in 1908, Mr. Garnsey came to California essentially to retire (at 40!) after entrepreneurial success in Denver, Chicago, and New York. With booms come busts, and Mr. Garnsey mentioned that when it came (in 1888) he was "in the swim", taking twelve years to pay back his debts.

That did not appear to slow him down, as he continued to be involved extensively in real estate. His largest fame came from being the President of the Los Angeles and Redondo Railroad, a small-gauge railway he purchased in 1894, that went from downtown L.A. to Redondo Beach, where he was heavily invested in...real estate. Garnsey Street alongside Redondo High School was named for L.T.

Mrs. Garnsey's 1924
passport photo
By 1900 he was living downtown in a hotel at 506 S. Hill. The census mentions his occupation then as "capitalist", which was common when it was not possible to pin down any one industry or occupation. Living with him was his wife of five years, Cecil J., and her eight-year old daughter from another marriage, Warren Mills. Cecil was 25 years younger than L.T. and appeared to enjoy the good life. Society pages and other records mention multiple trips to Hawaii, the Orient, and Europe for Mrs. Garnsey. One in 1908 mentions a visit to the Orient, with Mr. Garnsey accompanying her as far as Hawaii.

The Garnsey Home in fashionable West Adams
In 1906 the Garnseys purchased a home at 2241 West 24th Street, where they resided until Mr. Garnsey's death at age 71 in February, 1916. The monies for the house may have come from his 1904 sale of the railroad and associated lands to Henry Huntington. The sale created a mini-boom in Redondo Beach, as investors in L.A. knew of the significant capital Huntington could bring to the operation. He did upgrade the railroad significantly, and within a month had made his money back through the uplift in land sales.
L. T. in 1908

In 1911 Honolulu papers were abuzz with mention of Mrs. Garnsey's daughter Warren. Evidently she eloped while in Hawaii and Mrs. Garnsey was quite upset about the episode.  A daughter Virginia and a son Warren were born to Warren and her husband, James Haynes, in 1914-1916, which no doubt became a good reason for Mrs. Garnsey's multiple sea trips to Hawaii in the '20s.

By 1920 Mrs. Garnsey had moved to an apartment hotel in San Francisco, where she continued to live past 1930. L.T. passed away while at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles, and according to the L.A. Herald, his last resting place was to be Birmingham, New York. Most likely that would have been Binghamton, New York, where L.T. had significant business success in the 1870's as a fruit wholesaler.

And what of the house today? See below...

The House Today (with guard dog)
(courtesy of the author)

Warren Haynes Virginia Haynes