3100 West Adams Boulevard


While the Gold Rush drew Vermont-born Ozro William Childs west, his great success came after settling in nascent Los Angeles, where he arrived eight weeks before January 18, 1851, the day he was enumerated—occupation, miner—in the first federal census after California's admission to the Union on September 9, 1850. The proceeds of a mercantile venture and a nursery business in his new home—as well as from introducing the honeybee to Southern California in 1855—got Childs started, but it was the acreage south of the settled area with which he was paid after having been given the contract to extend the water-bearing zanja in that direction that made his fortune. He became a banker, partnering with, among others, Isaias Hellman in forming the Farmers and Merchants Bank (which eventually became part of the current Bank of America); he also invested in more land toward Adams Street, eventually donating property to help found U.S.C. in 1880. Leaving his wife, Emeline, and six children, he died at age 66 in 1890, after which the family continued to be much involved together in Los Angeles real estate.

The first Ozro Childs estate was on his stake well south of what in the 1850s was the center of
Los Angeles. The Italianate house he later built there, addressed 1011 South Main Street—
later renumbered 1111—was near the center of a parcel bounded by today's Main, Hill,

Eleventh, and Twelfth streets. Mrs. Childs remained here until moving to her new
house at the southwest corner of Adams and Arlington in 1902. The Main
Street house as seen above was remodeled in 1889; in the fall of 1905,
1111 became the very fashionable Huntington Hall school for girls,
which moved to South Pasadena in the fall of 1911. The old
Childs house was demolished in the spring of 1913
amid massive redevelopment, with Broadway
 now being cut south through the block.

In 1902, Emeline Childs commissioned Frederick L. Roehrig to build a big modern Colonial house on a large tract she had acquired at the southwest corner of Adams and Arlington streets. It was initially designated as 2300 West Adams Street, the number altered circa 1912 in accordance with citywide address alterations and street-name changes resulting from various annexations. The south side of Adams west from Manhattan Place, at the top of a slope in an extension of old West Adams beyond the city limits, had become an estate area, with large, set-back houses from which there were spectacular southerly views. The neighborhood had begun to decline even before Mrs. Childs died at home on September 24, 1935, although her house would last another 43 years. Its stables were demolished in 1945 after 3100 became the home of the Children's Home Society; when the house itself came down in March 1978, there were reverberations of the demolition of the Richfield Building nine years earlier, stirring some to action in theretofore preservation-averse Los Angeles. For urban archaeologists, at least, some of its sidewalk stone wall remains. The views seen here give an idea of the scale of the largest West Adams houses, not mere suburban residences, but indeed estates whose owners might have chosen Beverly Hills or Bel-Air had they built in the 1920s instead of a few decades earlier.

Latter Days: According to the Children's Home Society,
"The start of World War II brought in even more homeless children,
 prompting CHS to expand by purchasing 'The Big White House'.” The
The relative age of the view below can be gauged by the 1953
Chevrolet parked near the building's southeast corner. 

A remnant of the Childs property can
be seen today—the photograph below was taken
in June 2012—running west on the south side of
Adams Boulevard from Arlington Avenue.


In a northerly view taken before 1945, Mrs. Childs's house and its stable and water tower are at
bottom, left of center; her son Stephen V. Childs built his own home, also in 1902, at the
northeast corner of Adams and 2nd Avenue, seen through trees above the water tower.

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAPLChildren's Home Society of California;
Google Street View