The Contents of Chapter 4
4.1 HISTORY OF JEFFERSON PARK
According to National Register Bulletin #24, historic contexts are de- fined as “broad patterns of historical development in a community or its region that may be represented by historic resources.” Historic resource surveys are not complete without linking resources to their associated historic contexts; the establishment of historic contexts is vital to target- ing survey work effectively. In addition, contexts are necessary to make future significance evaluations for resources and to evaluate the potential for historic districts. Historic contexts provide the framework for interpreting historical developments those group properties that share a common theme, geographical area, and time period. The establishment of these contexts provides the foundation for decision-making concerning the planning, identification, evaluation, restoration, registration, and treatment of historic properties, based upon comparative significance. Contexts can be developed for all types of resources including, but not limited to, buildings, structures, objects, sites, and historic districts.
CONTEXT: ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, AND DESIGNED LANDSCAPES (1881-1951)
Theme: Important Architects and Builders
In the Jefferson Park HPOZ, associated property types present are single and multifamily residences, as well as commercial and institutional buildings. The period of significance has been identified as 1888-1951.
As a result of this 2009 Historic Resources Survey, the proposed Jefferson Park HPOZ has been determined to be eligible for HPOZ designation for its connection to the early phases of residential development in Los Angeles, its historic and continued ethnic, cultural and class diversity, and its significant concentration of buildings dating to the first few decades of the twentieth century, with architectural styles associated with the Arts and Crafts, Period Revival and Modern modes.
Background: Early History of Jefferson Park
Jefferson Park’s early history owes much to its location near the former course of the Los Angeles River. The river, now channelized in formidable concrete banks, once followed a meandering and intermittent course: at times flowing due south from downtown toward San Pedro Bay but, during other eras, heading southwest in the direction of Santa Monica Bay. Jefferson Park lies in the floodplain of the river’s southwestern course which itself varied shifting north or south, flowing some- times above and sometimes below ground as it made its way toward the ocean. Thus, in spite of its seemingly semi-arid climate, Jefferson Park’s environmental history is one of aquifers and marshlands, sycamores, willows, and cottonwood trees. Even the historic rancho of which the Jefferson Park area was once a part bears witness to this history: it was called Rancho Las Cienegas, Spanish for swamps.
Owing to the abundance provided by the now encased in concrete but once life-giving Los Angeles River, the entire region is rich in human history. Now altered almost beyond recognition by several hundred years of intensive European-style uses, “[t]his diverse environment provided a rich habitat for wildlife and helped support one of the largest concentrations of Indians in North America. The alluvial plain that extends from the Santa Monica Mountains to Newport Beach was home to the Gabrieleño Indians. The Gabrieleños employed a hunting and gathering approach to securing their sustenance, employing little or no agricultural cultivation. As their life ways were heavily dependent on the area’s rivers, Gabrieleño settlements clustered near them. The existence of Gabrieleño villages has been confirmed several miles west of Jefferson Park. Thus, while archeological inquiries have yet to uncover conclusive evidence of their presence, it is likely that the Jefferson Park area supported human habitation that pre-dated the arrival of Europeans.
After thousands of years of Gabrieleño habitation, Spanish occupation brought a new approach to land use. The Spanish imposed their unique method of governance which included establishing a network of pueblos, presidios, and missions. In addition, the Spanish introduced the rancho system of land ownership. Under this system, Spanish (and later Mexican) authorities rewarded loyal soldiers and prominent citizens with the ownership of large tracts of land. After the revolution of 1821, Mexico established control of Spain’s North American holdings and continued the rancho system.
In 1823, Mexican authorities granted 4,439 acres of land in the Los Angeles basin to Francisco Abila. A member of a prominent family, Abila served as alcalde (mayor) of the Los Angeles pueblo in the early nineteenth century. The boundaries of Abila’s land grant, dubbed Rancho Las Cienegas, were approximately Wilshire Boulevard on the north, several points between Bronson and Arlington Avenues on the east, Exposition Boulevard on the south, and on the west by various points between La Cienega Boulevard and Spaulding Avenues. Abila passed away in 1832, willing Rancho Las Cienegas to his four children: a son and three daughters.
The area of Jefferson Park that lies west of approximately 4th Avenue falls within Rancho Las Cienegas. The eastern section of Jefferson Park, on the other hand, was part of the common lands that surrounded the pueblo lands (consisting of four square leagues centered on the settle- ment near present day Olvera Street) on all sides. After California came under the control of the United States in 1848, a lengthy land ownership adjudication process ensued. By the 1880s, Abila heir Francisca Rimpau had begun selling her Jefferson Park area holdings piecemeal to both land speculators and farmer/ranchers. The process of land transfers in the common lands area of Jefferson Park, however, differed somewhat. Pursuant to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe that ended the Mexican- American War, the United States held title to the common land portions of Jefferson Park. In two separate 1874 transactions, the United States transferred ownership of the common lands portions of Jefferson Park to John McArthur (156 acres) and Pierre Begué (122 acres).
For the half century that followed California statehood in 1850, the Jefferson Park area – like much of the Los Angeles basin – continued to support agricultural uses: chiefly cattle ranching and the associated production of hides and tallow. As the ranching economy declined in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the southern California economy diversified somewhat but remained grounded in agricultural uses. As the population rapidly expanded, demand for locally produced food expanded dramatically. Citrus production, which would eventually prove vital to the local economy, began in earnest during this period. Viticulture, the cultivation of grapes used in the production of wine was common throughout the basin. Hay, barley and corn production were economic mainstays throughout the region.
Several agricultural uses have been uncovered in Jefferson Park. Andrew Joughin, who owned vast tracts of land in the area extending from Pico on the north to as far south as the Baldwin Hills, was a renowned blacksmith. His daughters, Matilda Matlock and Emma Osborn, both lived in the Jefferson Park area in the early 1900s with farmer hus- bands. The West Jefferson Poultry Farm was located near Arlington and Jefferson. Texan Joseph Starr operated the Estrella (sometimes referred to as Estella) Dairy in the neighborhood. Starr’s personal residence, along with several outbuildings which appear to have served as bunk houses for his farmhands, is the only known resource from Jefferson Park’s early agricultural beginnings (Joseph L. Starr Farmhouse, HCM No 865).
CONTEXT: EARLY SUBURBANIZATION (1888-1919)
Theme: Land Use and Site Development
Adams Boulevard (formerly Street) marks the northern boundary of Jefferson Park. Beautifully sited along a ridge with expansive southern views of Baldwin Hills and western views to the ocean, Adams Street was a natural choice for elite residential development. Attempts to capitalize on the auspicious setting and develop the area for exclusive residential use started in during the boom of the late 1880s. A real estate syndicate led by Theodore Wiesen danger assembled a large tract of land extending from Pico on the north to the Southern Pacific right-of-way on the south by piecing together purchases from landholders such as Rancho Las Cienegas heir Francisca Rimpau and blacksmith Andrew Joughin. The Wiesen danger syndicate named its town site Arlington Heights, extolling the imagined town’s virtues in a series of Los Angeles Times advertisements. Lauded for its views and commended for its healthful breezes, Arlington Heights seemed a natural spot for the residences of Los Angeles’s most elite citizens.
As a potential late nineteenth century Los Angeles residential development, however, Arlington Heights were rather isolated. Whether it was the result of inadequate transportation or simply inadequate demand, “The New Town of Arlington Heights” failed to thrive.15 Nevertheless, the brief life of Arlington Heights underscored Adams Boulevard, with its southerly views over a verdant valley and toward the rolling Baldwin Hills, as a perfect spot for grand estates. By the opening years of the twentieth century, however, the tide had turned. Neither the bust that followed the boom of the 1880's nor the national economic panic of 1893 substantially chilled population growth in Los Angeles and the city doubled in population during the last decade of the nineteenth century. After the 1890's, the residential center of fashionable Los Angeles, which had already moved south from downtown Bunker Hill to University Park, began to move west. But Adams was a “Street of Dreams” for only a relatively brief time: no more than a few decades. As it turned out, Arlington Heights’ promoters were quite right when they extolled their imagined town’s location as “Right in the Way of Los Angeles City’s Magnificent March to the Sea.” The migration of the city’s elite to Adams Street was only the first of several westward moves made by that particular cohort.
Residential development along Adams Boulevard began in earnest just after the turn-of-the twentieth century. By this time, the City Beautiful planning concepts developed during the 1890's were exerting a strong influence on the design of cities. City planners and architects working within the City Beautiful movement believed – among other things – that well and beautifully designed urban spaces would not only be salubrious but ennoble the people who lived in them. One manifestation of these principles was the development of lushly landscaped boulevards and parkways moving outward from downtown, dotted with generous lots, and anchored by large, tastefully designed houses. Often, property owners along these majestic arteries employed master architects to design their very stately homes. Conscious of their clients’ intent to impress, these architects frequently employed classically inspired design elements and styles such as Beaux Arts and a variety of Period Revivals.
In all these respects, Adams Boulevard exemplifies City Beautiful principles. At a width of a full ninety feet, Adams presents an impressively broad thoroughfare. Parcels vary somewhat in size with some as large as five acres. Though undoubtedly diminished from the time of its initial development, Adams still boasts extensive landscaping. An impressive collection of palatial houses designed by lauded architects were built along Adams during its heyday. These architects worked in a variety of styles, sometimes mixing and matching elements to achieve the desired effect. While some employed variations of the Arts and Crafts style coming into vogue at that time, others looked to Beaux Arts and Period Revivals to inspire gravitas. Of those buildings that remain from this period, the most imposing include the Lycurgus Lindsay housed erected in 1908 based on a Charles Whittlesley design, the 1910 Hudson and Munsell designed Guasti Villa/Busby Berkeley Estate, and Charles Whittlesey’s 1905-6 Walker House. In addition, a group of more modestly scale but still impressive residences dot Adams. These include the Frank Tyler designed Wells-Halliday House and the Fuller House by architects Hunt, Eager & Burns, both built in 1908.
Theme: Transportation Streetcar Suburbs
If suburban living was considered the best of both worlds – urban and rural – it was financially out of reach for all but the wealthiest Americans until the development of streetcar suburbs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But once transportation advances made land that was beyond easy walking distance of downtown cheaply and quickly accesin earnest. Streetcar build-outs sprang up along transit lines, generally moving in linear fashion away from city centers like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Even a relatively mall house, set on its own piece of land which could be beautifully planted with greenery, could evoke – albeit modestly – the verdant charms and benefits of the picturesque enclaves to which the wealthy had been retreating for several decades.
Jefferson Park is one of a number of Los Angeles neighborhoods that illustrate this national trend. Although the Southern Pacific line to Santa
Monica had skirted along Santa Barbara (now Exposition Boulevard) since 1875, its relatively remote location along Jefferson Park’s southern boundary coupled with its infrequent service meant that it did not serve local transportation needs particularly well. Even after the steam railroad right-of-way was electrified and pressed into service by the inter urban system in 1908, its once daily trip to Santa Monica could not have served the daily commuting needs of the neighborhood very effectively during the first few years of Redar service. By 1913, however, service along Santa Monica Air Line between downtown and the Jefferson Park area had increased to every 60 minutes.27 Even the Red Car, however, played only a minor role in Jefferson Park’s development.
It took the arrival of the streetcar to jump start residential development in Jefferson Park. The Los Angeles Railway Company provided street- car service along Adams Street west to Arlington as early as 1899. By 1905, the Los Angeles Traction Company was running a street car along Jefferson Street, also as far west as Arlington. (This line would eventually extend to along Jefferson Street to 8th Avenue.) With streetcars traversing both Adams and Jefferson, by this point the entire Jefferson Park neighborhood was within a few minutes’ walk of quick and easy transportation t downtown Los Angeles.
Theme: The Subdivider and the Subdivision
By 1903, Jefferson Park was well-served by public transportation. It is no coincidence, therefore, that residential subdivision of land accelerated that same year. With the vital transportation piece of the residential development puzzle in place, suburban style development took hold rapidly in the neighborhood. Jefferson Park’s early residential development con- forms very well to early twentieth-century trends observed nationally.
All of these elements of typical early twentieth century real estate subdivision and promotion occur in Jefferson Park. The neighborhood’s subdividers mounted an extensive newspaper advertising campaign to promote it. Price, location, infrastructural amenities, access to transportation, proximity to high status neighborhoods, and protection from undesirable elements all featured in the advertisements of the neighbor- hood’s tracts.
Jefferson Park is laid out in a space maximizing grid with rectangular lots arranged along rectilinear streets. Streets in the neighborhood feature a consistent width of sixty feet. Many (but not all) of the tracts were laid out with alleys, providing access to the rear of lots. Alleys, where they exist; vary only slightly in their dimensions with most measuring 12 feet but a few as wide as 14 feet. Residential lot sizes and dimensions are quite consistent in spite of the numerous tracts that comprise the neighborhood. The lot frontages vary within a narrow range: the over- whelming majority falls between 40 and 50 feet wide. Corner lots were generally slightly wider than those found mid-block. Depths also varied somewhat from tract to tract and from block to block but fell within a relatively small range: the shallowest were 120’ while the deepest extended to 150’. The majority, however, hover around 125 feet. With these lot dimensions, lot sizes range between approximately 5,000 and 6,000 feet.
Jefferson Park is comprised of numerous tracts. Detailed information bout the various tracts can be found in the Historic Context Statement provided within the Histoirc Resources Survey for the HPOZ. Notewor- thy tracts include:
West Adams and Jefferson Street Tract (1903)
Hopper & Sons Western Avenue Tract (1905)
Arlington and Fourth Avenue Tract (1905)
Arlington Fourth Avenue Tract No. 2 (1906)
Jefferson Street Park Tract (1906)
Theme: The Home Builder
The process of house construction in streetcar suburbs was remarkably consistent nationwide. As Dolores Hayden explains, “[s]ubdividers some- times organized construction of houses, but more commonly small builders took over, or the owners built themselves.” As a neighborhood built mostly by individual owner/ builders and, to a lesser extent, subdividers and small scale investors, the development of Jefferson Park illustrates these trends to the letter.
This aspect of the story of Jefferson Park’s development is most vividly told by its building permits. The overwhelming majority of buildings identify an individual owner who was responsible for the erection of only one Jefferson Park building. Almost 1,500 different people are identified on a building permit as Jefferson Park owners. Many building permits listed only an owner with no architect or builder identified. On others, the owner is also listed as the builder, indicating either a house built by an individual home seeker seeking personal accommodation or an investor converting the sweat of his brow into equity for profit. A builder is listed on approximately half of the building permits for Jefferson Park buildings. Close to 800 different builders are identified on the building permits and only 20% of them worked on more than one Jefferson Park building. Fewer than 20% of permits for buildings in the neighborhood list an architect at all and, for those that do, often the architect was also listed as the owner and builder. This practice of listing the owner’s name on all three lines rather than leaving the architect and builder lines blank was very common during this period. With very few exceptions, this indicated either owner or small investor building rather than a master architect/ builder at work. Of the architects listed, only a few are well known.
While some of Jefferson Park’s builders were corporate entities rather than individuals, no one builder dominated. If anything, the reverse is true. Jefferson Park’s cohesive architectural character was produced at the hands of many, none of them dominant. The vast majority of Jefferson Park’s original building owners constructed only one building in the neighborhood. The biggest owner/builder in the neighborhood, F.E. Bundy, built 19 buildings on the north side of Jefferson and the south side of 31st Street between 1912 and 1915, listing a builder on only one permit and an architect on just two. The most prolific among Jefferson Park builders, Ralph L. Wilcox, built 17 buildings in various locations throughout the neighborhood. Wilcox worked in the neighborhood for a long period spanning 1910 to 1924. On most of these projects, Wilcox himself or Josephine Wilcox was listed as the owner. But on at least five Jefferson Park projects, Wilcox had clients who hired him to build their homes. Between 1910 and 1920, the Alameda Building Company was responsible for constructing 18 Jefferson Park homes. Sometimes the company listed itself on building permits as architect or contractor or both but just as often did not bother to complete those sections of the permit application at all.
Some of Jefferson Park’s subdividers were also involved in neighbor- hood building construction. Two entities affiliated with Hopper & Sons Western Avenue tract built buildings in the tracts they helped subdivide. Adloff Realty Company, the corporate incarnation of Hopper & Sons Western Avenue tract subdivider Jacob Adloff, built nine neighborhoods building on 31st Street in 1911. E.L. Hopper & Sons built two houses on 30th Street in 1906. Fred A. Ripley, one of the subdividers of the West Adams and Western Avenue tract built three buildings on Western Avenue and one on 29th Street in October 1910. Tyler & Company, listed as an owner of several Jefferson Park area tracts, built five buildings: some within tracts it developed and some in other tracts.
While the process by which Jefferson Park was developed largely conforms to national trends, the high quality of the architecture found in Jefferson Park’s buildings somewhat belies its status as a streetcar suburb. Historians of American suburbs including Kenneth Jackson and Delores Hayden have commented on the modesty of the residential building stock generally found in streetcar suburbs of this period.45 While deed restrictions in most (though not all) of Jefferson Park’s tracts dictated lot setbacks and minimum building costs and restricted non-residential buildings, they were silent with respect to architectural style or quality. In spite of the unplanned and ad hoc nature of its development pattern, Jefferson Park’s residential buildings evince a high degree of architectural quality. Thus, while the process that led to Jefferson Park’s development largely conforms to national trends regarding owner and small investor building in streetcar suburbs, its architectural quality differentiates it somewhat from the findings of historians to date.
The likeliest explanation for the consistency and quality of Jefferson
Park’s housing stock is the us of plan books, also known as pattern books, and kit houses. Pattern books trace their roots to the mid-nineteenth century and the earliest years of mass suburbanization. While the earliest suburbs were exclusively the retreats of the very wealthy, the concept of the suburban/country house was quickly packaged for consumption by the masses. Designer/authors such as Andrew Jackson Downing extolled the virtues of non-urban living and promoted the concept of home ownership as an expression of citizenship. Downing and others produced books of house designs which aspiring home owners could emulate.
Kit houses took the pattern book house design concept and rendered it even easier to realize. Kit houses combined a ready-made design with detailed plans and all the necessary building supplies to execute it. Home buyer/builders could pick a design out of a catalog and have an all-inclusive kit consisting of all the elements necessary to build it delivered almost anywhere in the country accessible by rail. With the innovation of balloon-frame housing, house building was no longer exclusively the province of large crews of highly skilled carpenters. Relying on newly available inexpensive mass-produced nails rather than traditional joinery, balloon framed buildings eschewed difficult to handle 8 x 8 posts in favor of lighter 2 x 4s. With this development, the building process was suddenly relatively quick, significantly less expensive, and, therefore, broadly accessible.
Both plan book designs and kit houses populate the Jefferson Park land- scape. Kit house purveyor Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, Inc., for example, figures far more prominently on Jefferson Park building permits than any architect. Moreover, evidence suggests owners employed designs purchased from a plan book. Several designs from Henry L. Wilson’s The Bungalow Book appear in Jefferson Park.49 Bungalowcraft Com- pany also provided designs for Jefferson Park residences.
With the use of a wide variety of kit houses and plan book designs, Jef- ferson Park’s builders developed a rich detailed bungalow landscape with enough similarity to lend visual harmony but sufficient differentia- tion to avoid monotony.
Theme: Early Commercial Development
Jefferson Park has two primary commercial spines: Jefferson Boulevard and Western Avenue. These areas, however, were initially slated for residential development. In fact, the higher price tags and more stringent building restrictions attached to lots with Western and Jefferson frontage in some tracts indicate that the neighborhood’s subdividers contemplated these thoroughfares as prestigious residential boulevards. Extant examples of the sort of buildings that the subdividers intended for the thoroughfares are found at 2921 S. Western Avenue and 2008 W. 28th Street. In spite of this vision, neither Jefferson Street nor Western Avenue appears to ever have been fully developed as a residential street. Although residential uses (of both single and multi-family varieties) still exist on both streets, over time they slowly transformed to evince a predominantly commercial use.
As neighborhood commercial spines, both Jefferson and Western present idiosyncratic faces. In marked contrast to the neighborhood’s residential streets, neither commercial corridor sustains a consistent visual rhythm along its length. In some places, most notably the stretch of Jefferson between Arlington and 4th Avenue and Western between 29th Place and 30th, the traditional nineteenth-century pattern of dense urban commercial development predominates. This pattern is characterized by its use of the street as an “anchor” with buildings abutting the sidewalk and consuming virtually the entire parcel. Setbacks, except occasionally at the rear and to allow for light and ventilation, are almost unknown. But in many other spots, deviations from this pattern are apparent. For example, commercial and residential (both single and multi-family) buildings employing markedly different approaches to setbacks and lot coverage sit side-by-side in numerous places along both thoroughfares. In some cases, parcels initially developed with a single-family residence have been converted to commercial use by reusing the original building and adding a new building or constructing an addition within the building’s original setback. Often, a portion of the original residential building – usually the front porch – was demolished to accommodate a larger addition.54 This lack of a consistent, cohesive commercial landscape belies both the unplanned, ad hoc nature of development along these corridors and their extended development period spanning nearly six decades.
The earliest commercial development in Jefferson Park occurred on Jefferson Boulevard. By 1903, a streetcar carried passengers from down- town to the Jefferson line’s terminus, then at Arlington. The stretch of Jefferson west from Arlington to 4th Avenue, therefore was the first to attract a concentration of neighborhood-serving commercial buildings. One of the earliest, 2216 W. Jefferson, dates to 1908 and was constructed by Edward Roberts to house a grocery store and meat market.
These commercial buildings came in several forms, adhering to the classic taxonomies of commercial architecture: predominantly two-part commercial blocks and one-part commercial blocks. Two-part commercial blocks are defined as buildings “characterized by a horizontal division into two distinct zones. These zones may be similar, while clearly separated from one another; they may be harmonious, but quite different in character; or they may have little visual relationship. The two-part division reflects differences in use inside.” Such buildings are generally two to four stories in height. One-part commercial blocks, on the other hand, are restricted to one-story buildings. They are “treated in much the same variety of ways as the lower zone of the two-part commercial block. Essentially, it is a fragment of the larger type. . . . [It] is a simple box with a decorated facade and thoroughly urban in its overtones.”
Jefferson Park’s two-part commercial blocks consist of two-story mixed use buildings consisting of ground floor storefronts with apartments above while the one-part commercial blocks are generally one-story single use buildings.57 These buildings are clad in either brick or stucco and architectural flourishes are few. A “moving picture show” was con- structed at 2117 W. Jefferson Boulevard in 1910.
CONTEXT: CONTINUED SUBURBANIZATION (1920-1951)
Theme: The Homebuilder
With the exception of a few re subdivisions of existing tracts, Jefferson Park was substantially platted prior to World War I. Although neighborhood construction came to a virtual standstill during the war years, a second wave of house construction began in 1920. So although land sub- division was essentially complete, the process of home building continued apace in Jefferson Park in the years following the war and through- out the 1920s.
While the initial wave of intensive residential development in Jefferson Park area depended upon access to cheap and reliable public transportation, its second wave of residential development began to show signs of the automobile’s influence. The most obvious sign of this influence is the construction of automobile garages. Garage permits were issued as early as 1909 for properties boasting an existing residence. By 1911 garages were occasionally being built in conjunction with Jefferson Park houses and by 1920 garage and residence permits were regularly issued together. Moreover, stand alone garage permits for existing houses soared during this period. In addition, businesses designed to serve the automotive needs of the local population sprang up along the commercial corridors.
As in the previous wave of development, the vast majority of dwellings constructed during these periods were one story in scale. Although the majority of these buildings are single-family dwellings, a significant minority of the buildings developed during this era are multi-family. Even the multi-family dwellings, however, were designed to seamlessly integrate into the low-scale, single-family character of the neighborhood. Duplexes were designed in one of two styles. In the first, the two units were arranged side-by-side within a single building bearing virtually the same footprint as the surrounding single-family structures. In the second, there are two buildings on the lot in a front/back arrangement with a larger single-family dwelling at the front of the lot and a much smaller one in the rear. In some cases, both dwellings were developed at the same time. In others, the front house was built during the first wave of Jefferson Park development and the rear house during the 1920s wave. In both cases, these one-story duplexes are virtually indistinguishable from the single-family residences with which they keep company. A few two-story duplexes, triplexes, and four-plexes also dot the landscape. Some courtyard apartment complexes also appear.
During the 1920s construction boom, the trends observed in the ear- lier phase of Jefferson Park’s development continued. In the majority of cases, individual home seekers bought a plot of land and built a dwelling for personal use. A smaller, but not insignificant, number of parcels were purchased by investors who developed them for profit. After 1930, construction slowed dramatically. Less than 10% of the neighborhood’s buildings were constructed after that date. This slow-down primarily resulted from two factors: the economic crisis that gripped the entire nation during this period and the absence of available land in the neighborhood on which to build. Between 1931 and 1938, only a handful of buildings were constructed. During some of those years, no new buildings appeared at all. The buildings that rose during this period consisted chiefly of infill single family residences and are scattered throughout the neighborhood.
By the late 1930s, pent up demand for housing and the easing of negative economic pressures combined to drive a small building boom. 1939 alone saw the construction of 16 buildings. While single family residences are included in this building surge, the majority of these buildings are multi-family. This new multi-family construction occurred mostly at the northern and western fringes of the neighborhood: along Adams Boulevard, 26th Place, 27th Street, and 7th Avenue, with additional examples scattered throughout the neighborhood. As the 1940s progressed, housing demand continued to increase throughout Southern California, first in response to the population surge driven initially by the need for workers to staff World War II support industries and continuing after the armistice as wartime industries adapted to meet postwar hunger for a wide variety of goods manufactured in the region. In some other areas of the City, this demand was met through the construction of large, single- developer tracts consisting of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of single family residences. In Jefferson Park, however, as in other areas of South Los Angeles (such as the Baldwin Village neighborhood located just north of Baldwin Hills) housing demand was met primarily through the construction of multi-family structures.
The majority of buildings from this era – both single and multi-family are constructed in the Minimal Traditional style. The multi-family buildings generally consist of two-story four and six unit residences arranged singularly or in pairs surrounding a courtyard and employ, to greater and lesser degrees, principles of garden style apartment complexes developed beginning in the 1930s. Developers of the garden style form sought to harness the increased density afforded by intensive land use without sacrificing space, light, good design, and sense of privacy found in typical suburban style single-family residences. They aimed to
incorporate the most desirable elements of suburban style development while simultaneously consuming fewer resources in terms of building cost and materials as well as land.
A particularly notable concentration of multiple-family residences from this period in Jefferson Park’s development is found along 7th Avenue between Adams Boulevard and 27th Street. The 7th Avenue grouping was constructed in two phases: one in 1939-41 and the other in 1946. The earlier phase buildings cluster on the east side of the street and include the buildings at 3536 W. Adams Boulevard and 2608, 2612, 2616, 2624, 2628, 2628, 2632, and 2640 7th Avenue. They were developed by two owners: Coral V. and Doris Funderburg, and Charles Angle. All were designed by architect J.J. Rees and constructed by National Builders, Inc., National Builders of California, or California Builders (likely all iterations of the same corporate entity). The 1946 grouping is found on the west side of the street and includes 3500 W. Adams Boulevard, and 2615, 2621, and 2627 7th Avenue. While these buildings list no architect, they were all developed by G.G. Larfield and built by Larfield Construction Co. Further south on 7th Avenue and designed by Heth Wharton, well-known for his involvement in the highly regarded Lincoln Place apartment complex in Venice, the 1950 apartment complex at the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Montclair Street is a good example of garden style principles on a relatively small scale.
Theme: Deed Restrictions
Nationally, deed restrictions were commonly employed by subdividers to shape the new neighborhoods they created and marketed. Deed restrictions served a number of purposes in the early twentieth century. At one level, they provided an early form of zoning and land use control, while at another they enforced racial and ethnic exclusion.
Historians report that by the 1920s, “developers used deed covenants to govern future land use, controlling the cost, size, location, and style of housing that could be constructed, its occupancy single or multiple families, and the race and ethnicity of inhabitants.”58 In working-class suburbs, restrictions were generally targeted to exclude non-whites but were far less stringent with respect to land use and building requirements allowing for a multitude of productive uses.59 In communities marketed to the more affluent, the religion of potential buyers and residents, in addition their class and race, was an element developers sought to control.
Jefferson Park’s subdividers employed a wide variety of deed restrictions as early as 1906. The West Adams and Western Avenue tract called for the erection of a “first class private residence” costing minimally $1,800 and set back twenty-five feet from the plot line. Only those outbuildings which were “customary” (including “private stables”) could be built, and such buildings were only permitted at the rear of the lot. Moreover, out buildings and could only be erected after the primary residence had been built. In addition, “no apartment house, double house or flat, lodging house, [or] hotel” was permitted. Leasing or selling the property to “any person of African, Chinese or Japanese descent” was prohibited. On the other hand, deeds in the directly-adjacent Hopper & Sons Western Avenue tract do not appear to contain any restrictive provisions at all.
Where they existed, deed restrictions typically had expiration dates. Those, for example, in the West Adams and Western Avenue tract were initially set to expire in 1915. By the late nineteen teens, developers had realized that restriction expiration could be problematic in terms of marketing their subdivisions. In Jefferson Park, property owners in the Crestmoore tract sued to enforce racial exclusiveness in their tract. Around the time of their expiration, property owners in the Crestmoore tract had unanimously agreed to the extension of the racially exclusionary deed restrictions. Their suit – brought in 1925 against a property owner that had contracted to sell to an African American buyer- tested the enforceability of the voluntary deed restriction extensions. The suit wound its way through the court systems concluding with a 1928 California Supreme Court decision upholding the extension of the racially exclusionary covenants. Property owners could extend the covenants preventing African Americans occupancy but could not prevent African American ownership.65 This decision set a precedent throughout the state for decades to come.
Theme: Continued Commercial Development
The second wave of Jefferson Park’s commercial development parallels its second residential development wave. Much of the new commercial building activity during Jefferson Park’s second development wave reflected the growing automotive needs of the neighborhood’s residents. Auto oriented businesses of all sorts sprang up along the corridors, many of them in purpose built buildings. The block between 29th Place and 30th Street on Western Avenue, for example, saw the erection of several commercial buildings specifically designed to serve auto needs during the 1920s including a gas station and a tire shop at 2925 S. Western Avenue and a garage and gas station at 2945 S. Western Avenue. A public garage was constructed in 1930 at 1858 W. Jefferson.
As the neighborhood’s population expanded, so did the demand for goods and services. Consequently, Jefferson Park retailing and construction related to it expanded during the decade of the 1920s. Stylistically there is little to distinguish these 1920s era buildings from their earlier counterparts. The commercial buildings constructed during this period closely resemble those of the 1900s and 1910s: one and two part commercial blocks clad in stucco or brick.67 Data, however, gleaned from building permits and manuscript census data reflects the growing presence of merchants and craftspeople, many of them Jewish, in Jefferson Park during this period.
Theme: Institutional Development
Institutional buildings play a vital role in the development of any community. Such buildings house the civic, religious, cultural, and social institutions that serve the residential communities in which they developed. With the notable exception of hospital and religious functions, most institutional buildings are government buildings. They reflect the intersection of bureaucratic priorities with community needs, perceived or actual. Many of the original institutional buildings erected in Jefferson Park has been replaced by newer, but still historic, versions. Property types that illustrate this theme include religious buildings, a fire station, a library, schools, and convalescent homes.
Formal fire protection in Los Angeles began in 1871 when the city council established a volunteer fire department. The first fire station was constructed on the Plaza in 1884. The fire department expanded along with the city’s population and territorial growth.
Sixth Avenue School
The current incarnation of the Sixth Avenue School does not appear to be the first. Encompassing the entire block bounded by 6th Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, 7th Avenue, and 30th Street, Sixth Avenue School dates to the 1910s at the latest. Building permits from 1917 and 1918 indicate that a school already existed on the site. Newspaper reports from the same period refer to various community events held there. The school’s campus consists of several buildings. The two-story main school building, which faces 6th Avenue, is designed in a minimal Streamline Moderne style and dates to the early 1930s. In 1931, the Los Angeles Times reported Sixth Av- enue among three schools to benefit from a $6 million building campaign slated for that year and citing the buildings architect as O. W. Ott. A stand-alone auditorium of 1930s vintage is arranged to the south of the main school building. Additional, newer classroom buildings face 7th Avenue and Jefferson: two dating to the mid-twentieth century and one to the early twenty-first century.
Mid-City Magnet School
The Mid-City Magnet School at 3150 W. Adams Boulevard occupies the site of the former Childs Mansions which was demolished in 1978. It consists of a mixture of permanent buildings dating to circa 1980 as well as temporary structures. A mature Morton Bay fig tree shades the campus.
Los Angeles’s public library system traces its roots to city’s Mexican period. By 1872, the private Los Angeles Library Association had been established counting among its members some of the city’s best known pioneers. In 1878, the city council assumed control of the Association’s assets along with its future as a public resource. As early as 1889, branch libraries began to open. The library system grew steadily for the subsequent several decades. With the city’s population surging and bolstered by slogans such as “Grow up Los Angeles! Own your own public library and take your place with progressive cities!” Angelinos passed library bond measures in 1921, 1923, and 1925 totaling $3.5 million. By 1925, the Los Angeles Public Library system boasted 44 branches with 21 of them in rented accommodation.
Religion and Spirituality
Jefferson Park is home to an extensive network of institutions serving the religious and spiritual needs of the both the local area and wider Los Angeles community. As a group, these buildings are particularly notable for their layered histories which reflect the many different groups that have populated Jefferson Park over the past century. Synagogues, for example, first built in the late 1920s to serve the neighborhood’s burgeoning Jewish population of the teens and twenties were later home to African American congregations of the Baptist faith. Built as St. Paul’s Church in 1931 for a largely white congregation, the Westminster Presbyterian Church at the corner of Jefferson and 3rd Avenue now houses the oldest African-American congregation in the West.74 Others such as Holman United Methodist Church and Trinity Baptist Church, designed respectively by Kenneth Lind and Paul Williams, were erected during the mid-twentieth century primarily to serve an African Ameri- can population that continues to reside in the neighborhood and wor- ship at these churches. Holy Name of Jesus, a Roman Catholic church constructed in 1952 based on design by prolific church architect George J. Adams, currently serves an integrated congregation composed of Latinos and African Americans. Christian Latino and Korean churches, along with an Islamic congregation, have more recently found homes in re-purposed storefronts along Jefferson Boulevard. Several of Adams Boulevard’s mansions now welcome congregants of a variety of faiths. Examples include the Lindsay Mansion which is now the Our Lady of Bright Mountain Polish Parish while the Guasti Villa/Busby Berkeley Estate, currently known as the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gar- dens, is home to the Movement of Spiritual Awareness and the Peace Theological Seminary and College of Philosophy.
Anchored by two Roman Catholic institutions, the Jefferson Park area is home to extensive network of convalescent and nursing care facilities concentrated along both sides of Adams Boulevard. The first area convalescent use dates to the establishment of the Sister Servants of Mary convent at in a building erected at 2131 W. 27th St based on design by noted church architects Barker & Ott in 1931. The sisters’ ministry – which presages contemporary hospice care - involved bringing care and assistance to the poor and the sick in their own homes.76 In 1949, the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God acquired the property at the northwest corner of Adams and Western, outside the proposed Jefferson Park HPOZ, to establish a facility to minister to the ill and in firm. The brothers have, over the decades, dramatically expanded their land holdings and extensively developed the services they provide at the site. Secular convalescent facilities within the Jefferson Park HPOZ area in- clude the Carl Bean Hospice (housed in the Frank Tyler designed Wells- Halliday House at 2146 W. Adams Boulevard) and several buildings con- structed during the mid-century period such as the 1969 Lorand West designed building at 2190 W. Adams Boulevard.
CONTEXT: ETHNIC, CULTURAL, AND CLASS DIVERSITY (1903-1951)
Theme: The Demographic Composition of Jefferson Park
Its history of restrictive covenants notwithstanding, Jefferson Park has a long tradition of ethnic, cultural, and class diversity dating to the earliest days of its residential settlement. As early as 1910, census records reveal a surprisingly heterogeneous population. The majority of the households – approximately 75% - consisted of members who were native born. But of the other quarter of households, a variety of national origins were represented: Danes, Swedes, Dutch, Norwegians, French and Italians, among others. Beyond these, a few groups clearly predominated. English-speaking immigrant’s chiefly y hailing from England and Canada but also, to a lesser extent, from Scotland and Ireland were the dominant groups. (The Canadians also included French speakers, the Scottish boasted a few Scots speakers, some Welsh speaking Welsh, and Irish speaking Irish.) A close second to these largely native English speakers, were Germans.
By 1920, the majority of Jefferson Park’s households continued to consist of native born members but the proportion of households with foreign- born members increased from 25% in 1910 to 31%. With the increased percentage of households with a foreign born member came a wider variety of countries of origin. Immigrants hailing from the English-speaking countries of England, Ireland and Canada continued to dominate the ranks of the foreign born in the neighborhood. Among their ranks continued to be some Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and French speakers. So, too, did German immigrants continue to make a relatively strong showing. Swedes and Irish, more or less, maintained their relative positions. French and Danish residents continued to live in Jefferson Park as well. Representatives of Venezuela, Turkey, Switzerland, Serbia, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Mexico, Hungary, Honduras, Finland, Greece, Japan, Holland, Cuba, and Austria all appeared albeit in very small numbers amounting to less than one percent for each country of origin. Speakers of Hebrew and Yiddish also lived in the neighborhood.
By the late 1920s, the Jefferson Park Jewish population was sufficient to support two synagogues: Congregation Rodef Shalom at the corner of Jefferson and Cimarron and Ahavath Achim Congregation on 5th Avenue just north of Jefferson. Some of the neighborhood’s Jews were immigrants from Eastern Europe whose first languages were Hebrew and Yiddish. Many more came speaking the native tongue of their home country – anything from German to Russian to Rumanian – or as native English speakers from various parts of the United States, England and Canada. Jefferson Boulevard’s mixed use buildings housed some of the neighborhoods Jewish residents: merchants and/or artisans running businesses from shops opening on to the commercial corridor and living in apartments above. Jewish people also lived – sometimes renting and sometimes owning – in the neighborhood’s houses.
The 1920s witnessed an increase in the variety of national identities represented in the neighborhood’s households. Overall, the percentage of households with a foreign-born member increased from 31% in 1920 to 40% in 1930. England and Canada were particularly well represented. Russia, with a 13% share of the foreign born households tally dramatically increased its representation. Germany and Sweden continued to contribute nationals to the neighborhood, with 11% and 7% respectively. Italy, Poland, and Romania all claimed at least 3% of households. Remarkably, there were over 30 nations that contributed 2% or less to the neighborhoods population. In sum, the neighborhood became both more foreign and more diverse than it had been earlier in the decade of the 1920s.
It was also during this time that African Americans began to settle in Jefferson Park. While Los Angeles’s African-American population dates to founding of the pueblo in the eighteenth century and neighborhoods with identifiable populations of African-American residents developed as early as 1900, it took the demand of World War II industries to bring African Americans to the City in large numbers. Well before the war, however, a small number of African Americans began to call Jefferson Park home. By 1930, several families had clustered along 30th and 31st Streets close to Western Avenue. Profiled by historian J. Max Bond in his seminal study titled The Negro in Los Angeles, the African-American families in Jefferson Park by and large expressed satisfaction with the state of race relations in their neighborhood in the 1930s. Considering the court battle that had raged only blocks away in the Crestmoore tract, Bond’s finding is surprising.
After the war, African Americans – many hailing from Louisiana and Texas – continued to be lured to Los Angeles by its reputation for relatively peaceful race relations and promising economic opportunities in post-World War II industries. Jefferson Park was one of several South Los Angeles next for African American residence and commerce. Anchored by the Golden State Mutual Insurance Company building located at the corner of Adams Boulevard, Western Avenue became one of several commercial spines boasting concentrations of African American-owned businesses. One of the best known examples—and located in Jefferson Park—is the original Fatburger stand, recently determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
While only five percent of Jefferson Park households was home to a per- son of Japanese descent in 1930, the neighborhood’s Japanese-American population increased dramatically during the 1930s and 40s. Japanese nationals began moving to California in the nineteenth century, establishing a community that would grow into Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles by about 1910. These early settlers often worked as domestic servants and gardeners or as proprietors of businesses that served the growing Japanese-American population, which by 1920 had reached 20,000 people. Their population steadily increasing over the decades, Japanese Americans was active in the food production industries, particularly farming and fishing. By World War II, 37,000 Japanese Americans called Los Angeles County home.
Japanese-American enclaves such as Little Tokyo in the downtown area, along Sawtelle in West Los Angeles, and on Terminal Island are well documented. Jefferson Park is among the city’s lesser known Japanese- American neighborhoods of this period. In 1942, Momo Nagano, who lived on 30th Street, was a student at Dorsey High School when she – along with her mother and siblings – voluntarily relocated to the Manzanar Relocation Area. Her father, a Japanese immigrant, had been forcibly detained and sent to Manzanar shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.84 A United States citizen by birth, artist Nagano recently created a textile weaving - in the shape of an American flag - honoring some of her Jefferson Park neighbors: Japanese-American families similarly removed from the neighborhood during World War II. Nagano’s tapestry is in the collection of the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
Lawyers, doctors, engineers, and teachers all lived in Jefferson Park. So, too, did clerks and stenographers as well as sales staff for everything from fruits and vegetable to automobiles. Laborers of all sorts were rep- resented as well. Curiously, there seems to be no discernible pattern of homeownership among this wide variety of occupations. There were gardeners who owned their own homes and lawyers who rented them. This wide variety of occupations ranged from those requiring high levels of education to those demanding hard physical work but minimal training or education, signaling a broad continuum of class status represented in the neighborhood from working to middle class.
Theme: Commercial Development
The wave of commercial development that occurred at mid-century is Preservation Plan closely tied to the demographic shifts that occurred during this period. The entire larger Crenshaw district developed as a mixed African-American and Japanese-American community starting as early as the 1930s and extending through the 1960s and beyond. Extant buildings within the proposed Jefferson Park HPOZ associated with African-American and Japanese-American business development during the mid-twentieth century are still found along Jefferson Boulevard and Western Avenue. They include restaurants such as the Fatburger hamburger stand at 3109 Western Avenue (1946) and the hot dog stand most recently incarnated as the House of Dimes at 1817 Jefferson Boulevard (1949). New retail buildings also appeared during this period. By 1952, the Japanese Enbun Market was housed in the 1946 store building at 2313 W. Jefferson Boulevard.
Several medical/dental offices appeared at this time as well. These buildings were largely constructed by Japanese- and African-American professionals who sought to serve the needs of their own ethnic groups in the neighborhood. Wallace Nagata and George Tarumoto, for example, built side-by-side medical and dental offices designed by Absmeier, O’Leary and Terasawa at 2706- 2708 W. Jefferson Boulevard in 1953 and 1955. Byron Spears erected a medical building 3101 S. Western Avenue in 1970 in which he practiced dentistry. Spears, who earned his dental degree at Loma Linda University in 1957, was the first African American to graduate from the schools program. Other services – operating from structures built specifically to house them - thrived in the neighborhood during this period as well. Saito Realty – the “most adver- tised Japanese American broker in L.A. - operated from 2421 W. Jefferson during the late 1940s.
While the types of buildings constructed during this period broadly con- form to the earlier period, the expressions during this third development wave reflect the predominant Modern idiom of the era. With the exception of the Enbun Market which was constructed with an associated surface parking lot, the commercial buildings constructed during this period largely reflect the forms of the earlier eras: one- and two- part commercial blocks. Two-story mixed use buildings from this period in- clude 2710 W. Jefferson Boulevard while one-story commercial/retail only buildings include 2622 W. Jefferson and 3115 S. Western Avenue.
Numbers of neighborhood buildings were re-purposed during this period. Examples of this phenomenon include the Frank Tyler-designed theater on Jefferson which became a pawn shop in 1936 and a 1908 house located at 2531 W. Jefferson Boulevard was remodeled and expanded into a lunchroom in 1925 became a church circa 1970.
Theme: Popular Culture: Jazz and Rhythm & Blues Music
Central Avenue served as a major center of African-American life starting in the 1920s and continuing for several decades. Racially exclusive restrictions kept African Americans not only from patronizing the same public accommodations as whites but also from working in the entertainment industry. During this period, Central Avenue developed an extensive network of businesses owned by and catering to African Amer- icans. By the 1940s, a network of nightclubs lined the Avenue and it had become well known as the West Coast nexus of jazz.
Even during the Central Avenue’s heyday, many musicians lived in what was then commonly referred to as “West Los Angeles.” Jazz luminaries Eric Dolphy, Vi Redd, Hampton Hawes, and Herb Geller all attended, for example, Dorsey High School. Hawes’s father, for whom he was named, was pastor of the Westminister Presbyterian Church’s congregation when it moved from its original home near Denker Avenue and 35th Street to the site of the former St. Paul’s Church at the corner Jefferson and 3rd Avenues in 1949. He remained in that role until 1958.
In the 1950s, with Jim Crow restrictions beginning to loosen their grip, Central Avenue music scene began to disperse. Around that time, venues such as nightclubs and home-based studios that showcased soul and rhythm & blues began to develop further west. Music historians Brian Chidester and Domenic Priore have identified a significant concentration of venues in the Crenshaw District approximately bounded by Pico Boulevard on the north, Santa Barbara (now Martin Luther King) Boulevard on the south, Western Avenue on the east, and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west. The proposed Jefferson Park HPOZ is home to the nightclub known as the Rubaiyat Room, located in the Hotel Watkins at 2022 W. Adams Boulevard. Marv Jenkins recorded his 1961 release “Good Little Man” at the Rubaiyat Room. Ted Brinson constructed a studio in the garage of his home at 2190 W. 30th Street where he recorded many notable 1950s era musicians. For example, The Penguins recorded their 1955 hit “Earth Angel” in Brinson’s garage studio. Noted trombonist and jazz arranger Melba Liston lived for a time at 2261 W. 29th Place in the home of her aunt. According to neighborhood lore, Liston hosted frequent late night jam sessions in the home’s garage.
Theme: Architectural Styles
The architectural landscape of Jefferson Park reflects over half a century of popular architectural styles and encompasses a wide range of building types. Beginning with an 1888 single-family, Folk Victorian- style farmhouse and ending with a 1951 garden-style, Minimal Traditional apartment complex, Jefferson Park’s built environment boasts excellent examples—on both grand and modest scales—of many of the major architectural idioms of the early twentieth century.
Perhaps most notable among them is Jefferson Park’s fine collection of bungalows and cottages reflecting a variety of Arts and Crafts influenced architectural styles including Transitional Arts and Crafts, Hipped and Gabled Roof Cottages, and Craftsman. Period Revival styles, particularly Spanish Colonial Revival and Colonial Revival, also feature prominently. While the majority of Jefferson Park’s building stock is modestly scaled, Adams Boulevard features an impressive collection of grand turn-of-the-twentieth century mansions in a variety of popular styles. A small collection of midcentury Minimal Traditional apartment buildings as well as a noteworthy example of Early Modern residential development, the Lukins House, rounds out the neighborhood’s architectural profile.
More extensive information about the architectural styles found in Jefferson Park can be found in Chapter 6 of this document.
Theme: Important Architects and Builders
The overwhelming majority – nearly 80% - of buildings in Jefferson Park list no architect on their building permits and only about half list a builder. Of the architects and builders who designed and constructed Jefferson Park buildings, most were only involved in one neighborhood project. For the most part, of those buildings with an architect or builder identified on the permit, he or she was often also the owner which suggests either owner building or small scale investing.
In a few instances, the work of highly regarded architects appears with- in this largely owner built landscape. In most of these cases, such architects designed only one or two buildings. Paul Revere Williams; Hunt, Eager and Burns; Charles Whittlesley; Ralph Vaughn; Raphael Soriano; and Arthur Heineman are all significant architects with national reputations with a Jefferson Park building (or two, in the case of Whittles- ley) to their credit. Numbers of locally known and regarded architects also worked in Jefferson Park including Max Maltzman; George Adams; Barker & Ott; Leonard Jones; Roy L. Jones; Absmeier, O’Leary and Terasawa; and E. B. Rust. Of locally esteemed architects with a significant Jefferson Park presence, there is only Frank Tyler. Frequently, the absence of identified architects and/or designers from a neighborhood signals a vernacular landscape. In Jefferson Park, however, the subordinate role of named designers does not necessarily reflect a dearth of professional design assistance in the buildings. There is evidence to suggest that Jefferson Park owners availed themselves of both kit houses and pattern books to assist them with the design and construction of their buildings.
Tyler, who is both a prolific and well-regarded architect in the Los Angeles of the early-twentieth century, designed more than ten buildings in Jefferson Park. Neighborhoods throughout the city, including Wilshire Park, Harvard Heights, Western Heights, Kinney Heights, West Adams Avenues, and Adams/Normandie are home to Tyler-designed buildings numbering—perhaps—in the hundreds. His career spans several decades. Jefferson Park examples of Tyler’s work date to as early as 1905 while the Wilshire Park neighborhood boasts ten Tylers from the nine- teen teens and the Kinney Heights neighborhood hosts at least two 1920s manifestations of his work. These examples of Tyler’s work are found among the best documented of Los Angeles’ historic neighborhoods and more will undoubtedly be found in neighborhoods yet to be researched. Tyler is not especially noted for being an architectural innovator but, rather, as a highly competent draftsman well versed in a variety of ar- chitectural styles and able to deliver designs exactly as specified by cli- ents. Tyler’s work in Jefferson Park included not only residential dwell- ings but several commercial buildings along Jefferson Street, including mixed use retail/apartment buildings and a theater.
A link between Tyler and the Tyler & Company real estate development firm active in the Jefferson Park area has yet to be conclusively documented. Tyler the architect collaborated with Tyler & Company on several buildings in Jefferson Park. On these collaborations, Tyler was most frequently cited on building permits as the architect of a project while the company played multiple roles including owner and/or builder. Tyler, without collaborators, also developed several Jefferson Park buildings on his own as owner and/or builder in addition to serving as architect. Examples of Tyler designed residences include 2078 and 2136 W. 27th Street, 2092 and 2103 W. 28th Street, and 2055 W. 29th Place. Commercial/mixed-use buildings include 2126 and 2130 W. Jefferson Boulevard.
Plan Books and Kit Houses
Although Jefferson Park owners largely eschewed engaging name ar- chitects and builders, they availed themselves of other forms of archi- tectural assistance in the form of plan books and kit houses. Generally speaking, plan book designs and kit houses present well-designed buildings in the prevailing popular styles of their day. In fact, there is little to differentiate Jefferson Park’s plan book and kit house buildings from those designed by architects. With the help of these tools, Jefferson Park owners succeeded in shaping a neighborhood characterized by an architectural profile that is simultaneously consistent in scale and massing but featuring a pleasing degree of variety.
Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, Inc.
Sears, Roebuck & Company is by far the best known national purveyor of kit houses. Sears marketed its now famous architectural plans and pre- packaged building materials through its mail-order catalog. Kit houses allowed customers to select a pre-designed building and provided the full range of pre-cut materials with which to build. While Sears houses are found throughout the country, Pacific Ready Cut Homes, Inc. concentrated its sales efforts on the regional Southern California market. The company was very successful: between 1908 and 1940 it sold 37,000 kit houses, the majority of which were constructed in Southern California. The company’s marketing made use of an elaborately illustrated and detailed catalog offering extensive information about the company’s operation and illustrations of a selected group of building designs it offered. The catalog boasts of over 1,800 different plans offered by the company ranging from simple, modest dwellings to impressive homes, one room shacks to elaborate designs, and from garages to bungalow courts.
In addition to marketing through its catalog, Pacific maintained an extensive “Exhibition Grounds” covering 24 acres south of downtown Los Angeles and centered on the intersection of Broadway and Pico. In that location, the company was able to showcase its wares in the form of fully constructed buildings for customers to inspect. The company’s mill was located elsewhere, in a railroad-adjacent location to facilitate shipping, near Slauson and Boyle Avenues.
The catalog extols the virtues of homeownership and carefully lays out the superiority of the “Pacific System of construction in detail.”95 Pacific’s pricing for its kit houses included lumber for foundation, framing, roughing-in, interior finish, roofing, and ventilation. Wood sash windows, doors, screens, flooring and built-in features were also included. Materials for lath, plaster, and stucco or, if customers preferred, plasterboard were part of the price. The company also furnished all necessary stains, paints, and enamels as well as hardware came as part of the package. Cement work, chimneys, and tiling were excluded from the freight-on-board price.
Pacific Ready Cut’s regional focus allowed it to offer extensive post-sale services. Architectural plans were provided at no additional charge. Beyond building materials, many additional products and services were offered. For an additional fee, the company offered an optional “Complete Construction Service” which provided construction labor courtesy of the company’s own crews. Building permits for approximately 13 buildings in Jefferson Park list Pacific Ready-Cut Homes as either the architect and/or the builder. In reality, the company is probably responsible for many more buildings for which it was not credited on the building permit. Good examples of Pacific Ready Cut Home include 2249 W. 28th Street and 3406 W. 27th Street, the latter of which brings Style 222 to life.
Henry L. Wilson
Henry Wilson is just one of a number of designers who offered illustrated architectural plans in the early 20th century. The concept of the plan (or pattern) book originated in the mid-nineteenth century with publications such as Andrew Jackson Downing’s 1850 The Architecture of Country Houses. These books offered both attractive illustrations of completed houses and the detailed plans needed to erect them. Taken together with the technological innovation offered by the invention of balloon-frame construction, such houses were suddenly within reach of individual home seekers whether constructed by their own hands or purchased from a small scale contractor. Wilson offered his designs for a fee of $10. “A complete set of plans,” he explained, “consists of a foundation and cellar plan, floor plans, four elevations and all necessary details; and a complete set of specifications.” Wilson reassured potential buyers: The floor plans show the exact size of all rooms, halls, closets, bath rooms, pantries, porches, etc., the location and sizes of all doors and windows; the position of all plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, etc. The details show an elevation and cross section of all exterior and interior trim, such as buffets, mantels, bookcases, seats and medicine cabinets, kitchen and pantry cupboard, flour bins, spice drawers, cooling closets, sinks, draining boards, etc. They also show the construction of beam ceilings, panel wainscoting, as well as sizes and style of all trim, window frames, casement windows, brackets, beams, etc., all figured and drawn to a sufficient scale to enable any carpenter to carry out without the least trouble. The plans are drawn to a quarter of an inch to the foot, and the details are drawn from one-half inch to three inches to the foot, making them sufficiently large to be easily understood.
While Wilson was just one of a number of designers offering ready-to- build plans to suburban home seekers and although his name does not appear on any Jefferson Park building permits, Wilson appears to have influenced the neighborhood’s architectural profile. Good examples of what are likely Wilson designs include his Design No. 372 at 2037, 2106, and 2166 30th Street, and Design No. 578 at 2284 W. 28th Street and 2318 W. 31st Street.