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GaylordWilshire Sep 30, 2010 12:12 AM


One of great Victorian houses on West Adams Street (the "Boulevard" appellation was apparently adopted sometime in the '20s, perhaps in a vain effort to secure the diminishing cachet of the area as the Hancock Park and Westside districts developed) was the Russell Judson Waters house at #900, next door to the magnificent and still-extant (but for how long?) Second Church of Christ Scientist. Waters, by the way, was the founder of Redlands, and, later, a U.S. Congressman. The pictures above don't really show the fence, perhaps an enlargement of the original, comprised of iron, a low stone wall, and stone gateposts (though there are Bison Archive shots of the house in the "Images of America" book West Adams that do). But mercifully we have remnants of 900 West Adams, including the Portland Street side of the fence and another set of gateposts that match those lost at the front. And--the carriage house still stands, now addressed 2625 Portland. I've seen it described as a miniature echo of the main house--as you can see in these pictures, the barn does indeed have a turret with a roof matching the big house. The first picture puts one in mind of the Addams Family tv show of the '60s, doesn't it? According to some sources, the Victorian house used as reference for the show once stood on Adams, though this was not it. I'm trying to discover the true identity of the Addams Adams house (reportedly demolished in the '60s)--I love an architectural mystery. The top half of the tv house was a matte painting, making it even harder to trace. Anyway, it's not a cure for cancer, but after all, somebody's got to do this reseach.... Street View Street View Street View

ethereal_reality Sep 30, 2010 2:09 AM

^^^WOW gsjansen, I didn't expect that spiral staircase to still exist.
Who exactly would use it? Perhaps broken down motorist in the days before cellphones?

Also, thanks for the history of the General Harrison Otis house. It is much appreciated 'GaylordWilshire'.
I didn't even know the address, let alone the connection to the Otis Art Institute.

Also, that before and after of the Sears store is utterly tragic.
It has morphed from a humane building addressing life on the street to a god-awful bunker.
Why on earth would they do that? Is it in a bad part of town?

GaylordWilshire Sep 30, 2010 2:25 AM


Re the Sears store--looks like an example of Brutalist architecture with an attempt to mitigate the inherent ugliness of the style (and perhaps regionalize it) by adding the red tile roof. Brutalism was an aberration (IMHO) of the '60s and '70s--hulking, bunkerlike buildings meant to convey function rather than being merely decorative. I think it's now seen as a failure as far as architectural progress is concerned, which is no surprise.

ethereal_reality Sep 30, 2010 2:30 AM

The Second Church of Christ Scientist is absolutely beautiful.

ethereal_reality Sep 30, 2010 2:42 AM

The Hellman Building built in 1897.
usc digital archive

below: An announcement of an expansion (additional floors) that doesn't seem to have happened.

below: An interesting article on life inside the Hellman Building.

GaylordWilshire Sep 30, 2010 2:42 AM

It is magnificent, that CS church. Unfortunately, it sits empty and has been for sale for years. The First Church on Alvarado (below) was taken over by the Seventh-Day Adventists. Come on, guys, how about Seventh-Daying another one?

GaylordWilshire Sep 30, 2010 2:49 AM

And here's the first First Church--it was at 625 West 17th. Gone With the 10, if not before.

gsjansen Sep 30, 2010 1:53 PM

abominations over time apparently is not limited to commercial buildings.

here's a then and now looking east on Washington Boulevard from across ardmore avenue in the West Adams Neighborhood - 1928 and now

what the hell is that in front of the old residence??!!?? a clear case of GET OFF MY LAWN if ever there was one :hell:

gsjansen Sep 30, 2010 2:40 PM

ne corner of washington boulevard and manhattan place 1933 and now

i've heard of exterior elements being eliminated from buildings for earthquake concerns, but removing the entire 2nd floor seems a tad extreme! :koko:

GaylordWilshire Sep 30, 2010 4:18 PM


Hello jansen-- Interesting that one building reduced its square footage, while the other maximized it. Generally, the trend in West Adams was to maximize property use, beginning in the '20s when the population exploded and people with houses on large lots realized that they could capitalize on their land either by subdividing, replacing a house with an apartment building or, along streets that became major east-west arteries, taking advantage of zoning changes and going commercial. Many a real-estate gain in West Adams financed a swanky new place in Windsor Square, Hancock Park, the hills of Cheviot and Beverly, Bel-Air, Brentwood etc etc. Washington Street/Blvd was once a fairly grand residential avenue in the section you show, where it is the northern boundary of West Adams Heights (the gateposts of which still stand at Washington and both Harvard and Hobart). There are parts of Crenshaw, Adams Blvd, Western etc where old Craftsman houses hide behind to-the-curb storefronts like the one you picture on Washington, which I think is the longest east-west road in L.A.

ethereal_reality Oct 1, 2010 12:03 AM

That first before/after photo with that hideous structure attached to the front of the beautiful house is SO infuriating.

If I still lived in L.A. I'd be tempted to go there and find out the story.
Perhaps the owners of the house simply sold off their front yard to a commercial venture because it fronts Washington Blvd.

GaylordWilshire Oct 1, 2010 12:52 AM


It's still happening on the major boulevards--compare pics of Sunset around Vine--near the Cinerama--and Wilshire around Fremont Place--with vintage shots and you'll see that property along alot of L.A. streets that used to have plenty of room between curb and building are now built out to the sidewalk. Central L.A.'s suburban years are long gone... I first started driving around L.A. in the early '70s, and the difference between then and now is amazing. Out to the curbs--actually, these days, Los Angeles is... New York.

circa 1965 Street View

Where once they were prominent along Wilshire, the concrete Fremont Place gateposts are now hard to discern among the commercial jumble. Street View

ethereal_reality Oct 1, 2010 1:46 AM

It makes me wonder what I would do if I owned property and was offered a good amount of money for a portion of my land.

In a perfect world, I would sat NO!!!
But if you're struggling to retain the might have to say yes. :(

GaylordWilshire Oct 1, 2010 4:52 PM


ethereal... and even if you weren't struggling to retain your property, but saw that your neighborhood was changing--becoming more crowded, trafficky--that your now-unfashionable Victorian was becoming a bear to keep up, too big, with all that gingerbread to constantly scrape and paint at great expense--the drafts in winter (i.e., your wife keeps telling you how humiliating it is to hear Mrs. Worthington Proudfoot go on about her new digs on Muirfield at meetings of the Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts League, and telling you how a new house near the Proudfoots would make you look more successful to your business cronies). Or, say, you were beginning to feel that your Craftsman bungalow, as new as it seemed just ten years before, was looking common, what with thousands of clones now spread across the landscape, indeed, across America--and if you noticed that some neighbors were selling out at considerable profit and moving to new houses in lovely new.. er, restricted neighborhoods... you might have to say yes then too. Those underground utilities and those modern stucco houses a few miles north on, say, Plymouth or June or Keniston would look mighty fine.... Actually, of course, I don't know what you, ethereal, might have done in such a time and place. I'm just imagining the mindset of a typical upwardly mobile, ultraconservative middle- to upper-middle-class Los Angeles burger ca. 1927, watching all those less-prosperous sorts getting off the train downtown, looking for places to live that remind them of the farmhouses they left in Iowa....

How your wife convinces you your current house appears:

What she envisions:

ethereal_reality Oct 2, 2010 2:36 AM

I see your point Gaylordwilshire.

GaylordWilshire Oct 2, 2010 7:04 PM

von Sternberg--Rand--Hickman-Marion Parker Digest

I've always liked pictures of this Northridge house--built by Neutra for director Josef von Sternberg and owned by the lovely Ayn Rand and hubby, a Mr. O'Connor, for about 20 years (until around 1963--the house was torn down in the early '70s). It's the Rand connection that intrigues me here, though I'm not an admirer, by any means. (In college after a few drinks--etc--and if we were really bored, a certain theatrical friend could get us to laugh uncontrollably by reading aloud the many pretentious passages from her books. It's amazing to me that anyone has ever taken her seriously, much less Alan Greenspan.) ANYWAY, something I never knew about Mlle Rand, and something which, like Mr. Prescott in the link below, hasn't done anything to improve my opinion of her, is that she had an early admiration for one William Edward Hickman. Yes, the one-and-only murderer and dismemberer of Marion Parker at the Bellevue Arms in December 1927. (Note to Sopas: I'm reading Stolen Away per your recommendation, and you're right, it's a great read.) I found this on the web that echoes my sentiments:

I guess I've become fascinated with all things Marion--the case seems to me an early example of noir darkness under the palms, one which, as Sopas once said, is perhaps even more notorious than--certainly overshadowed by--that of the Black Dahlia

ethereal_reality Oct 3, 2010 12:40 AM

I've always loved Neutra's Sternberg house.
It's a bit odd for a Neutra house with it's moat and curving metal (aluminum?) wall.

Years ago I had lunch in a Neutra house in the Hollywood Hills.
Ever since, I've been trying to figure out which one it was.
GaylordWilshire, do you happen to know how many Neutra houses there are in the Hollywood Hills?

sopas ej Oct 3, 2010 1:11 AM

Oh mah gah some great pics and entries in this thread! I've been away from it too long, I've been so busy with a new job the past month that unfortunately, doesn't allow me to go online.

This thread is obviously still in top form! :tup:

ethereal_reality Oct 3, 2010 1:31 AM

I wondered what happened to you sopas_ej.

I'm certainly glad to see a post from you. Good luck with your new job!

gsjansen Oct 3, 2010 12:29 PM

i've always been more of a schindler fan myself

here's a store that schindler designed for modern design creation lamps, at the se corner of holloway drive and palm avenue off of the strip. 1936 and now

i guess i should be happy that the building still exists, even tho' it's been horribly renovated from sleek noir to awkward ugly in it's current incarnation.

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