243 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1901 as the second 243 West Adams Street on a 207-by-167-foot parcel described in early records as part of Lot 5 in Block 1 of Hancock's Survey. The first 243 West Adams Street was a smaller house on the site at the northeast corner of Grand Avenue that may have been built as early as 1878 by James O. Seymour, who sold it to attorney John G. McCallum in early January 1888 and moved a few blocks west to 746 West Adams. Indiana native J. G. McCallum is known as the "Father of Palm Springs," having built an adobe there in 1884 after coming down from San Francisco and then incorporating the Palm Valley Water Company, based in Los Angeles, on February 3, 1887. On February 22, 1895, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCallum had just sold his Adams Street property to Minnie Cray Taylor, wife of recently retired Chicago banker Frank Wing Taylor, for $14,000; the Taylors moved in with their four sons and two daughters later that year
  • Perhaps anticipating the death of an elderly Wing-family relation back in upstate New York in October 1901—and a legacy of $100,000 ($3 million today)—the Taylors decided on a major domestic upgrade. On March 6, 1901, it was announced in the Los Angeles Times that Mrs. Taylor "will not be at home on Wednesday [her customary day for receiving visitors] until further notice"; on April 11, the Herald reported that Mrs. Taylor was issued a building permit the day before for the construction of a new $12,000 residence. The plan involved shifting the first 243 West Adams, built by John McCallum circa 1888, to the southeast corner of the Taylor property to become 239 West Adams. The new two-story 243 West Adams at the center of the site was to be of an American Colonial design with north and south gables and soaring columns supporting a pediment at the entrance facing Grand Avenue. Ever mindful of maximizing returns, the Taylors were investing in other city property at the time, offering what appear to have been private mortgages to buyers of some of their parcels
  • Just seven years after building the second 243 West Adams, the Taylors decided to lease it to the distaff counterpart of Page Military Academy that had moved into 137 West Adams down the street in 1907; Page Seminary, a residence and day school for girls, opened at 243 in the fall of 1908. The Taylors bought a considerably more modest house at 1039 West 20th Street and would lived there until 1914, when they returned to 243

Some detail of the Taylor house can be seen behind young
ladies of Page Seminary pictured in a paid feature appearing in
the Los Angeles Herald on September 4, 1910; another version of the
advertisement appeared in the Herald on Christmas Day of that year and
was illustrated with the girls playing tennis in the front yard facing Grand
Avenue. The large building at right behind the trees is the Hotel Darby,
which had opened at 234 West Adamsdisplacing the Clark house
that was moved west to 340 West Adamsjust that October 17.

  • Page Seminary would appear to be thriving at 243 West Adams for its first several years, with frequent press mentions in Los Angeles papers. There were issues, however; the headmistress, Miss Emma E. Page, was soon hit with multiple lawsuits claiming that she had misrepresented the financial condition of the school in offers she had made to prospective stockholders. Page Seminary went into receivership and the campus at 243 West Adams was closed, making way for the return of the Taylors. (Despite the turmoil, Miss Page managed to reopen in the fall of 1914 as the Page School for Girls in the Highland Park neighborhood north of downtown, where it would last until 1941)
  • The engagement of the Taylors' elder daughter, Barbara, a noted harpist, to an army officer was announced at an elaborate tea given at 243 West Adams on January 31, 1918; on May 31, also at home, she married a naval officer instead
  • Frank Wing Taylor died suddenly at 243 West Adams on November 7, 1918, having suffered a stroke; he was 62. His sons Edward Cray Taylor and Ellis Wing Taylor, born back in Chicago 18 months apart, were seeing out the last days of World War I stationed in France and in San Pedro, respectively. Once demobbed, the Cal- and Columbia-trained brothers would reopen the architecture and engineering firm they had established in Los Angeles before the war and begin building houses, apartment and industrial buildings including aircraft factories for Douglas in Long Beach and for Consolidated in San Diego, and some of the earliest of the city's strip malls—including one built to the curb at the corner in front of their parents' house
  • Savvy about real estate, the Taylor brothers understood that, with the inevitable push of the city's expanding population toward the Pacific, the residential character of Adams Street, particularly its eastern reaches, was ephemeral. They would waste no time after their father's death in exploiting the family's holdings at its Grand Avenue corner. The house the Taylors built in 1901 appears to have been converted almost immediately into a boarding establishment, with the Department of Buildings issuing the Estate of Frank Wing Taylor a permit on October 10, 1919, for the addition of two bathrooms. By the time the Federal census was enumerated on January 18, 1920, the house was being rented by a widow, Ina Cullen, and her two teenage sons, with 14 others in the house listed as "lodgers," including, interestingly enough, the Taylors' younger daughter Alma and her husband, William H. Eaton (he was her first of her four spouses; his half-brother Fred was famously one of the instigators of the Los Angeles Aqueduct from the Owens Valley and had served as the city's mayor from 1898 to 1900). Minnie Taylor appears to have spent the next year or so elsewhere, avoiding construction noise to come. What turned out to be a temporary change in the use of 243 was due to even bigger changes to the Taylor property. On July 25, 1921, the city issued the Estate of Frank Wing Taylor a permit to build a strip of three stores at the corner facing Grand Avenue, with an additional store added to the north under a separate permit on August 17. An illustration of the project appearing in the Times on September 11—most likely a rendering of Edward Taylor, listed as the architect on the permit—indicates that the plan may have originally been for six stores, but instead the family went all-out in despoiling the grounds of their pretty house by having a filling station that was just across Grand Avenue moved on to a spot almost directly in front of the entrance porch of 243. Trade, traffic, and gasoline fumes did not keep Minnie Cray Taylor away from her house, however; the boarders appears to have been shooed out and the family matriarch moved back in for the next few years. While Mrs. Taylor's obituary would refer to the family as having stayed in the 1901 house "until the inroads of business compelled a change of residence," the Taylors' own redevelopments over the years were obviously as much responsible for the change in the residential nature of easterly Adams Street as were those of others. In 1927, Mrs. Taylor's children finally persuaded her to moved to her last address—she would die at her home at 948 South Gramercy Place on October 27, 1929. In the meantime, the house at 243 West Adams became an annex, briefly, of U.S.C.'s College of Music, primary quarters of which were caddy-corner at 2601 South Grand Avenue
  • On May 2, 1928, the family firm, known as the Taylor Holding and Investment Corporation, was issued by what was now called the Department of Building and Safety a permit for another building on the lot that would spell the doom of both the Taylors' 27-year-old 243 West Adams as well as John McCallum's original 243 that had been moved to the southeast corner of the property to become 239 West Adams. The May 2 permit called for the erection of a 140-by-140-foot Adams-facing automotive repair and painting facility whose siting and bulk would require the demolition of both old houses, which began immediately
  • The original brick-faced design of the building for what became the Carter Automobile Works was altered within weeks of its permit having been pulled to become one of "stone tile." This presumably included the four colorful coats-of-arms that line the cornice of the building to this day. (It is unclear as to whether this may have been a Carter crest or one concocted for the Taylor family or simply a random adornment)
  • While both of the houses that once bore the address of 243 West Adams have been gone for 90 years, the commercial buildings built on the corner by the Taylor family and owned by them into the late 1940s remain. The Grand Avenue strip has from its opening housed food markets and drug stores; after the closure of the Carter Automobile Works in 1935, the large industrial facility facing Adams became the home of another automotive shop and then of the state's local Industrial Workshop for the Blind, a factory and retail operation. Russelure, the famous fishing-equipment maker, occupied the building in the 1940s and '50s, followed by the Luber-Finer Company, a maker of oil filters, which later became a division of Rockwell International               

West Adams Street had been promoted to West Adams Boulevard by

traffic planners by 1928; just after this image was made that year, several
significant items would disappear from the scene: The Taylor house at left would
be demolished, as would the house it displaced in 1901 to the southeast corner of the
 same lot to become 239 West Adams (its peaked roof is seen behind the flagpole); in addition,
the parkways seen here at the center of Adams Boulevard, in place since the 1910s, would be taken
out as part of a program to upgrade the thoroughfare not only in name but, in pre-freeway days, to
transform it into a major east-west traffic artery. The alterations to the roadway, along with
changes such as the Taylor family's giving over their residential property to commerce,
would only help to hasten the decline of a once leafy road. The Taylors' first
commercial project was featured in the Los Angeles Times on September
11, 1921, as seen below; it would be built with four stores instead
of the six seen above and it remains standing today.

The Taylor family's second commercial project for the northeast corner
of Adams Boulevard and Grand Avenue came in 1928; while the appearance
from Adams is of a row of stores similar to those the family built facing Grand in
1921, behind the façade is a hangar-size industrial building that required the demolition
of the family's two old houses on the lot. The front of what was originally the Carter
Automobile Works was distinguished by tilework including four identical coats-
coats-of-arms that remain in place today even with a reduced parapet.

The Carter Automobile Works opened
on August 1, 1928, and was pictured in
the Los Angeles Times that October 7

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT; CDNC; GSV