The Rising City

Feb. 12, 1907
Los Angeles

Imagine the surprise of Mrs. Robert Jackson, who was about to move into her new home on Vernon Avenue and discovered that the contractor had built it on someone else’s lot, next to the one that she owned. Fortunately, she was able to swap property with the owner, The Times notes. I suppose we should be thankful that builder didn’t go to medical school.

And here’s where the city is expanding: Vermont Avenue Square and Alhambra. Look for upcoming architectural ramblings to both of them.

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Random Shots From Our 12-Bore

Feb. 11, 1907
Los Angeles

The Eastside gets a new Baptist Church and 2nd Street and St. Louis.

Like Tom and Huck

A large pond 7 feet deep at Normandie and San Marino left by the runoff of recent rainstorms proved too tempting to the boys of the Forrester tract and so they launched a raft to play.

The raft tipped, The Times says, sending 8-year-old Clarence Rhodes of 1004 S. Jasmine tumbling into the water. Hearing the boys’ cries for help, M. Allen rushed from his home at 922 Normandie, plunged into the water and rescued Clarence.

After nearly half an hour’s work, the boy was resuscitated, The Times says.

Abandoned Boy

“His mother dead and deserted by his father, Charlie McDaniel, 6 years of age, has been wandering about the city, picking up a living as best he could, and sleeping in dry goods boxes and nooks and corners,â€Â The Times says. “The boy was found early yesterday morning by a patrolman and he is now in the Detention Home.

“In telling his pitiful story at the Central Station, the boy said that his mother died a few months ago and that his father had gone away with some woman. The police will make an effort to locate the father.â€Â

Last Stop

Mrs. A.C. Newton of 2707 Central Ave. is not expected to live after fracturing her skull when she leaped from a speeding streetcar because it passed her stop.

“According to witnesses, Mrs. Newton asked to be allowed to leave the car at 29th Street. When she saw the coach was running past the street, she jumped. The car crew carried her into a house nearby,â€Â The Times says.

“Several passengers on the car said that it was No. 419. They state that the conductor paid no attention to Mrs. Newton’s signals.â€Â

Note: I was amazed to learn just how many people were injured in 1907 by jumping from streetcars that failed to stop. Without checking further, I would say someone was hurt about once a week.

Bonus fact: The local tourism industry is furious because the state Senate passed the bill banning horses with docked tails. Businesses note that wealthy visitors from the East often bring their teams to Los Angeles at great expense and if their fancy horses are prohibited, wealthy tourists will avoid the Southland in favor of Florida.

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Architectural Ramblings


Feb. 10, 1907
Los Angeles

The Times features a hillside home “near the ostrich farm” in Pasadena. Presumably that was the Cawston farm in South Pasadena. (What, South Pasadena, again?) Unfortunately, many of the homes in the city of Los Angeles photographed for The Times in 1907 have been torn down and replaced by parking lots, warehouses, etc. Not so in suburban South Pasadena.

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Peace Returns to Buena Vista Street

Feb. 8, 1907
Los Angeles

About 1903, Charles E. Donnatin, former Pacific Electric Railway superintendent, apparently said something about the young woman across the street at the Stewart home, Savoy Street and Buena Vista (now 1301 N. Broadway).

The woman’s mother was furious and soon a 5-gallon oil can appeared in the Stewart’s yard saying “C.E.D. has beenâ€Â with the implication that Donnatin had been “cannedâ€Â from his job.

Denials and increasingly angry words were exchanged between the Stewarts and the Donnatins, and more items appeared in the Stewarts’ yard. An awning across the porch was painted with an attack on Donnatin and pieces of old billboards were set up on the lawn. Two tall poles were planted in the yard and on the line strung between them the Stewarts hung a series of 5-gallon oil cans painted with slogans about Donnatin. The cans became an irresistible target for neighborhood boys armed with rocks and the entire yard was eventually filled with trash, The Times says.

The feud ended up in court in 1905 as Donnatin accused the Stewarts of disturbing the peace, but the case was dismissed and the lawn display remained.

And then, everything was gone. “As day dawned yesterday on a little cottage over on Buena Vista Street, life flickered from the body of aged Mrs. James Stewart and with the going out of her breath evidences of a neighborhood feud as suddenly disappeared,â€Â The Times says.

Donnatin died in 1933 at the age of 84. He had come to Los Angeles as a master car builder for the Southern Pacific. He was founder and president of the Southern California Building and Loan Assn.

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Court Briefs


Feb. 7, 1907
Los Angeles


A Child’s Testimony

Charles Babbitt is sentenced to 30 days in jail on charges of domestic violence after the testimony of his 6-year-old son. “Papa hit me with a whip and it cut my head,â€Â the boy said. “Then he hit mama.â€Â “The man blinked his eyes and said that he did it because he was drunkâ€Â The Times says.

Ross’ Widow Arrested

Mary Ross, whose husband was killed by Officer Hoover, is fined $50 after being arrested in a raid on a rooming house that was selling liquor without a license. Ross was among the women seized at the establishment of Mrs. Mary Cooper, 261½ S. Los Angeles St. William Ross, who fatally shot Officer C.A May, was buried in potter’s field, The Times says.

Fined for Blind Pig

Frank Stadler pleads guilty to running a blind pig called the Mechanics Club, 1466 Channing St., and is ordered to pay a $50 fine.

Chinese Lottery Case

E.S. Patton is sent to jail after failing to pay a $50 fine for selling Chinese lottery tickets. Patton is the first white man to be fined for such sales, The Times says.

A Familiar Face

Patrol officers recognized J.W. Mason, who had just gotten out of jail, and watched as he found “a drunken, well-dressed man and lured him into a doorway,â€Â The Times says. He was given 20 days in jail for disorderly conduct.

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Incendiary Ramblings

Feb. 5, 2007
Los Angeles

Here’s an architectural drawing of the O.T. Johnson Building, which burned in yesterday’s fire.


Looking north on Broadway at 4th Street. The burned structures are at the right.

And here are some snaps of the damaged structures:


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Centennial Ramblings


Feb. 5, 2007
Sierra Madre

Because it’s celebrating its centennial this month, I paid a visit to Sierra Madre and while savoring a cinnamon dolce latte at the local Starbucks, watched the sun set on a historic Union 76 ball. A perfect fusion of two projects.

And here’s Sierra Madre’s Old North Church, with the artillery piece in the park across the street. Note the problem I encountered with lighting. Architectural photography is surely not my forte.

Now for the business at hand. I’ve often thought that with a century of lawmaking under its belt, the state Legislature might want to take the afternoon off. After all, with more than a century of making laws, what’s left to regulate?

The Times provides a tidy answer to my question. Here’s what the Legislature was wrestling with 100 years ago:

· The Senate unanimously passes a ban on docking horses’ tails and prohibits anyone from bringing horses with docked tails into the state. Those who own horses with docked tails would have to register them with the local county officials.

· The Senate passes a bill authorizing the governor to declare “Bud and Arbor Day.â€Â

· The Senate passes a bill setting dairy standards and a bill to keep the polls open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

· A committee urges the Senate to pass Sen. Black’s tax exemption bill for all the buildings at Stanford as well as the bonds the university holds in trust.

· Sen. Wolfe introduces a bill making all robberies committed with a deadly weapon between sunset and sunrise punishable by death or life in prison.

· Assemblyman Grove L. Johnson introduces a “no seat, no fareâ€Â bill providing that railroad passengers who cannot find a seat need not pay. The bill would include streetcars.

· Assemblyman Johnson introduces a bill requiring firearms dealers to keep records of gun buyers’ names and addresses.

· The Assembly passes a bill by the late Assemblyman Burke making it illegal to spit on sidewalks or in trains, cars and other public conveyances.

· Sen. Sanford introduces a bill seeking to restrict corporate donations to political campaigns. I’m so glad the Senate wrapped that up 100 years ago so it can get on to more pressing matters.

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Architectural Ramblings


Feb. 4, 2007
South Pasadena

The Times publishes three architectural drawings of “artistic bungalowsâ€Â prepared by the firm of Wilson and Barnes. One is being built by W.E. Fox on Columbia near Sunset Boulevard, the second by Dr. T.H. Lowers on Main Street in Alhambra and the third by A.J. Padau on Marengo in South Pasadena “near the Monrovia car line.â€Â

The Times says of Padau’s home: “This, perhaps, is the best located of the three houses, as from its windows can be seen the entire panorama of mountain and valley to the north and east. It is strictly modern in its design. A feature of the exterior is the broad span from corner to corner of the porch, affording an unobstructed view from the large living room in the front of the house. There are five rooms in the little structure. The cost was $2,500 ($51,308.93 USD 2005).â€Â

Here’s the home I found at 1517 Marengo, which is similar to the design (note the front porch) but has many minor differences.

Ps. Jim Draeger of the Wisconsin Historical Society sends along a link to the patent for Ducker Portable Homes, which I wrote about here.

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Officer C.A. May, End of Watch

Feb. 3, 1907
Los Angeles

About 1 a.m. on a dark corner at East Adams and South San Pedro, the hard, shabby life of William Ross ended when he said, “What in hell are you fellows up to?,â€Â drew a pistol and shot plainclothes Officer C.A. May.

May and his partner, J.M. Hoover, were walking east on Adams when they encountered Ross, described as a “rather roughly dressed man.â€Â Earlier in the evening, Hoover and May, who were working plainclothes as part of a crackdown on burglaries in the area, investigated an incident at 223 E. Jefferson Blvd., where L.C. Kelker had reported that two men were on his front porch.

The officers warned the two men to leave, but did not arrest them as there appeared to be no criminal intent, The Times says. One of the men started into the house, threatening to get a gun and “doâ€Â the officers, but May and Hoover left without taking any action.

Later that evening, May and Hoover encountered Ross and suspected he might have been one of the men they encountered outside Kelker’s home. May threw back his coat to reveal his badge and said: “We want to know who you are and what you are doing here at this time of night.â€Â

Ross said: “What in hell are you fellows up to? My name is Ross and I live just around the corner.â€Â Then he stepped back, drew a pistol and shot May in the shoulder or the chest.

He fired at Hoover, who ducked and shot Ross in the forehead.

Police found some papers on Ross’ body, a little money and newspaper clippings from the Herald, one about a suicide attempt by Mrs. Mary Ross of 383 or 583 Central Ave. over domestic problems and a legal notice of Mrs. Mary Ross suing William Ross for divorce.

May was taken to Clara Barton Hospital, where he initially showed progress, although doctors were unable to locate the bullet.

Investigators eventually found Ross’ room at the Good Samaritan Mission, a homeless shelter at Ord Street and San Fernando near the Plaza, but there were no stolen items or any other evidence that he had been committing burglaries. Police also learned that he had been employed at one time at Pacific Carriage Works, 122 S. San Pedro.

May was sent home to 2139½ S. Los Angeles St. to recover, but the wound became infected and he returned to the hospital. Doctors were unable to locate the bullet and May died Feb. 28, 1907, with his wife and two brothers at his side.

The Times says he “expressed remorse that it had been necessary for the officers to shoot the man, but he said it was a case of kill or be killed.â€Â

As a National Guard member and a veteran who had served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, May was given military honors in a funeral at Pierce Bros. Mortuary at Flower and 8th Street. A funeral procession consisting of police officers and National Guard troops escorted his casket to 1st Street and Spring, where they boarded streetcars for the interment at Evergreen Cemetery.

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