Monday, June 27, 2011

834 W. 28th St. -- John H. Norton

John H. Norton (1846-1911), left his Boston area home at an early age to seek his fortune in the west. In 1864 he worked in southern Colorado as a storekeeper and saloon owner, building capital steadily. Around 1870 he sold everything and took a stage to Tucson, where he was appointed by the U.S. government as "post trader" at Fort Grant, a new fort in southeast Arizona Territory. From there he went on to found Willcox, Arizona, where his store today is on the Register of Historic Places. Joining forces with partner Madison Stewart, they created a successful stage line among other businesses in Arizona. He married Mary Frances Van Doren (1867-  ), and in 1891, their only child Amy Marie was born in Willcox.

In 1896 they moved to Los Angeles, where Norton quickly got involved with city "movers and shakers", joining the Chamber of Commerce, and multiple Clubs, including the Jonathan and California Clubs. By 1900 the family had moved into their upper-class home in West Adams. The Los Angeles Public Library has a photo of the house when brand new.  Ours below is from circa 1906.

834 West 28th Street - home of the Nortons
While in Los Angeles he no doubt worked with his neighbors -- two doors west was John Mackay Elliott's residence, and Norton and Elliott were both directors at the Los Angeles Trust Co. (along with George Cochran). Norton also created a new company that performed railroad building work, and invested in real estate, owning the Norton block at his death in 1911.

No doubt when Mr. Norton was with friends, he became known for his stories of the "old days", as the cartoon book "As We See 'Em" by local newspaper cartoonists, showed Norton in his stagecoach still (below).

Norton on the Trail

By 1910 Amy Marie had turned nineteen, so that December her Cotillon was held at the home at 834 W. 28th, resulting in the Society section of the next day's L.A. Herald featuring a photo of Amy Marie.

Amy Marie Dec. 20, 1910

Sadly, father John passed away the next February, but Mary remained in the house well into the 1930's. After John's passing she traveled abroad with one of her servants taking multiple trips to Hawaii.

Today the house is gone (it was probably torn down after Mary's death), and the location now shows allegiance to the nearby university, as the house of Delta Delta Delta (Theta Xi chapter).

Today at the Norton Residence
(courtesy of the author)

Update: A commenter (see below) spotted that the original house is behind the current facade--below is a closeup of the top of the round tower--the decoration appears to be the original...
A closeup of the tower
(courtesy of the author)