Friday, January 25, 2013

Samuel I. Merrill -- 669 South Union Ave.

In 1900 the census stated that Jeremiah (Jere) B. Badgley (b. 1846) was a traveling salesman, living in San Diego. Not just any traveling salesman, as there was a servant in the house. By the next year he had transferred to Los Angeles, moving to Bonnie Brae Street with his wife and three children, working for M.A. Newmark, the largest wholesale grocery in California. Then in 1904 he moved into a new family house at 669 South Union Ave. Daughters Clara and Cecil held and attended card parties, participated in society balls, and generally enjoyed the society life of Los Angeles. Then in 1908 the family moved on to the new Westside, settling at 1245 St. Andrews Place.

Samuel in 1909
The next purchasers were Samuel (1856-1932) and Sarah (1857-1921) Merrill.  Samuel had come to California as far back as 1876, then to Los Angeles in 1881, where he started a hardware business, Merrill & Babcock. The next year he was a leading organizer of the Los Angeles YMCA, and was installed as its first president, serving for four years. During his time in Southern California he helped start Baptist College, the Union Rescue Mission, McKinley Industrial Home and the New Testament Church of Los Angeles, among other charitable pursuits. Businesses after his hardware store included Director, Western Gas Engine Co., Merrill Oil Co. and Merrill-Jensen Land Co. A member of the Chamber of Commerce in 1908-1909, he traveled to Japan, China, and the Phillippines with four others to report on trade there.

The Merrills were parents of two sons Wallace (b. 1893) and Charles Arthur (1890-1977), and a daughter Grace (b. 1889). In 1910 both sons lived at home, working for their father at a rolling mills factory.

669 South Union Ave. in 1909

In late 1914 the Merrills pulled up stakes and moved to Rio Bravo, a small settlement west of Bakersfield. Sons Charles Arthur and Wallace followed. All were listed as farmers in the 1920 census. Sarah passed away in 1921, and was returned to Glendale for interment.  In 1932 at age 75, Samuel died from an auto accident, and is buried beside Sarah at Forest Lawn.

Meanwhile at 669 S. Union, many tenants passed through the house.  Christian Science practioner Lillian Ruddick in 1915 was followed by Clyde J Cheney (1916), Albert J. Klunk (1917), and Arthur G. Reis (1921).

The area was going multi-family and in 1929 the new President Apartments were built, replacing our dutch colonial and the house to the west (at seen at left in the photo above).  In 1930, the census listed over 130 people in various apartments at this address.

The President at 669 S. Union ca. 1935
(courtesy of USC Digital Collections)

The apartment building still stands on the corner of Ingraham and Union, though Ingraham has been closed for many years, and is used mainly as a parking lot for the area. Today it appears from an aerial view of Google maps that there is no single-family house within two blocks of the building.  Two large, expensive-looking public schools reside to the east and west of the apartments.

Aerial View today

A big change for 100 years.

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