234 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1893 on Lot 21 of the Victor Dol Tract by real estate operator Wesley Clark as his own home; the building permit was issued to his wife, Sarah J. Clark, during the week of February 6, 1893. The building parcel had been sold to the Clarks the previous December 22 by lumber baron Thomas D. Stimson, who had built his famous and still-standing red-sandstone house at 2421 South Figueroa Street, just above Adams, in 1891. At the time of the sale to the Clarks, Stimson transferred an adjacent parcel to his son Ezra, who was also issued a permit in February 1893, one to begin building his residence at 226 West Adams
  • Architect: James H. Bradbeer; Bradbeer would be forming his well-known partnership with Walter Ferris in August 1893
  • Wesley Clark remained at 234 until October 24, 1905, when he moved to his new development called Westmoreland Place, a venture he hoped would be a successful competitor for the housing funds of the well-heeled. His new house was at 141 Westmoreland Place, in the exclusive gated core of the larger tract. Being too close-in to downtown, the gated section was not a success; by the time it opened, the affluent were beginning to move in force much farther west to exclusive new suburban tracts such as Berkeley Square
  • After putting 234 West Adams on the market when he left for Westmoreland Place, Clark, either unable to find a buyer or changing his mind, retained ownership, renting it to insurance man James J. Mellus for several years until he decided to redevelop the lot in 1909. With plans in hand by architect John C. Austin for a 70-foot-tall hotel, and after being issued a permit on July 13, 1909, for the relocation of 234, Clark had the house trucked 600 feet west to a parcel in the Lee & Johnson Tract comprised of the easterly 40 feet of Lot 3 and the westerly 30 feet of Lot 4. The house's new address would be 340 West Adams Street 
  • Could it be that by helping to change the character of his former Adams District neighborhood from one of grand single-family residences to one of a more transient nature Clark hoped to drive neighbors to his new development? If so, his plan backfired; one imagines the Llewellyns of 226 West Adams, for example, shunning Clark's new tract on purpose and buying instead in competitive Berkeley Square, as they did in late 1913, after finding themselves in the shadow and transient nature of the tall hotel with which Clark had replaced his former house
  • The first building permit for Hotel Darby was issued on July 27, 1909, with its grand opening occuring the following year on October 17. (Perhaps sorting out deed restrictions had something to do with it, but one wonders why, rather than go to the expense and trouble of moving a large house, Clark didn't just build the Darby on the empty lot at 340 in the first place)
  • Once Clark took possession of 226 West Adams after the Llewellyns left—which they had by early 1914, perhaps having been made an offer they couldn't refuse—it became the Darby Annex, with 340 no longer serving that purpose and being rented to Mexican attorney Angel Lopez Negrete and his family until 1920
  • Wesley Clark appears to have understood the future of his old district well before his neighbors; by 1924, 340 had become a rooming house, along with many other area residences, reflecting the rapidly changing demographics of the easterly West Adams neighborhood. The population of Los Angeles, rising dramatically during the 1920s, provided the opportunity for owners of aging houses to exploit them for maximum profit by either converting them into flats or selling to other landlords. Well-heeled original  owners often their profits to move to the newer, less dense, and increasingly more fashionable suburbs to the west, such as Windsor Square
  • Wesley Clark died on December 12, 1926, while living at 1401 St. Andrews Place; Sarah Clark later moved back to Westmoreland Place, its gated section now ungated, its north-south streets renamed and integrated into the city grid. The Clark house, demolished in 1991, was at what is today the northwest corner of Menlo Avenue and West 11th Street
  • The demolition date of 234/340 West Adams is unclear; it appears in aerial photography from 1964 but not in images from 1972, by which time its site had been taken over by Los Angeles County as parking for various social services buildings on Grand Avenue between Adams and West 28th Street

While Wesley Clark's Hotel Darby was strictly genteel, its bulk and transient
nature were harbingers of change in West Adams from a thoroughfare of expensive
single-family residences to one of boarding establishments from which the affluent would
have fled in force by the Depression. The 70-foot-tall building is seen here circa 1915 looming
over 226 West Adams at left—by this time Clark-owned and serving as staff housing for
the hotel (the words DARBY ANNEX appear over the entrance)—and 240 West Adams.

The ad below was seen in the Santa Barbara Morning Press on October 9, 1910.

Illustrations: Private Collection; HathiTrustUCLADLCDNC