2601 South Grand Avenue


  • Completed in 1900 on Lots 1, 2, and 3 of the Grand Avenue & Adams Street Tract by businessman and philanthropist Kaspare Cohn. On June 23, 1899, the Los Angeles Times, referring to Cohn, reported that "A fine residence corner, on two of the most prominent streets in the city, was picked up at a great bargain this week." On December 22, the Times announced that the contract for "one of the finest residences that has yet to be erected in Los Angeles was filed a few days ago. It is to be built by [Mr. Cohn] on the southwest corner of Grand avenue and Adams street...."
  • Architect: Abram M. Edelman
  • Edelman's design was for a large suburban house that was very modern, almost completely eschewing exterior Victorian components such as turrets—which hung on longer in Southern California than back east—for new cues such as half-timbering and precocious hints of the coming Craftsman style, as would be seen in its front-porch bargeboards. That month, the weekly Los Angeles–based trade journal Builder and Contractor described Cohn's new house in detail: "It will be two stories, with large attic, and basement, and will cover floor space of about 65x98 feet. The foundation walls, piers, footings and chimneys will be of hard-burnt brick, laid up with cement mortar. The exterior walls, lintels, window sills, porch and veranda columns, bases, caps and balustrades, from the ground line to the second-story floor joists, will be in Arizona sandstone. The stone in the basement walls to be rock faced and laid in alternate wide and narrow courses from the ground line up to the sill courses, and smooth-faced from the sill courses to the top of the first-story walls. The columns, caps, etc., will be turned and artistically carved. The main front steps will be granite; the basement, side porches and steps, cement. From the top of the first-story walls the exterior will be open timber work, with cement plaster filling over expanded-metal lath. The roof will be covered with slate shingles, of an unfading green color, with galvanized-iron ridges, etc. Entire oak floors will be laid in the first story, main hall, dressing rooms and closets; the parlor, sitting, dining and breakfast-rooms will have pine floors, with a two-foot oak border. The second-story main hall and chambers will have a two-foot maple border; the bath and dressing-rooms of the second story, entire maple floors. The attic, which will contain servants' quarters, and a large assembly hall, will have a polished pine floor. The doors will be quarter-sawed oak and birch veneered. The interior wood finish will be birch, quarter-sawed oak, redwood, white cedar and yellow pine. The ceiling of the main hall and dining-room will have beams of hardwood, with corbels and ornamental brackets. The parlor, sitting and dining-rooms and main hall will have plaster finish, with caps over all openings and panel-work wainscoting. In the dining-room a quarter-sawed oak mantel and sideboard will be built....  [A] buff-colored pressed brick mantel with brick hearth will be built in the main hall, and a mosaic floor will be laid in the front vestibule. Plate-glass windows, glazed tile wainscoting, nickel-plated plumbing and instantaneous heaters are among the specialties provided. The painting and varnishing will be three-coat work, and handsomely finished in imitation of flemish oak, antique mahogany and natural finish. The walls and ceilings will be tinted in various colors. A complete system of automatic electrical appliances will be installed for lighting and other purposes. The estimated cost is about $30,000"

Streetcar tracks run south from downtown on unpaved Grand Avenue across unpaved Adams Street
in front of Kaspare Cohn's new house, which rose in a semi-agricultural district only slowly being
suburbanized after the economic doldrums of the 1890s. Neither street at the intersection
would be fully paved until as late as 1909. Barely perceptible at the corner of the
low sidewalk wall are painted the names
affluent moved south from Bunker Hill in the '90s, stringing them-
selves out along Adams but, with so many thousands of
acres between central Los Angeles and the Pacific
to develop ever more modern suburbs,
they would largely give up on
the linear district after
one generation.

  • On April 1, 1913, the Department of Buildings issued a permit to Cohn to add a playhouse for his grandchildren to the property
  • Prussian-born Kaspare Cohn arrived in Los Angeles before the Civil War and went to work for his uncle, merchant and wholesale grocer Harris Newmark, in whose company he became a partner in 1866. In addition to their business, uncle and nephew invested in utilities and land, on some of which they would later develop the town of Montebello. In 1885, Cohn began wholesale trading in wool and hides and 11 years later opened the Pacific Wool Company, allowing wool to be processed locally on a large scale for the first time. Cohn would incorporate the Kaspare Cohn Commercial & Savings Bank in 1914, which, after Cohn’s death in 1916, became Union Bank & Trust, seed of today's San Francisco–based Union Bank. Cohn's chief legacy is his philanthropy; the beginnings of today's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center come from the house in Angelino Heights that he bought in 1902 as a refuge for tuberculosis sufferers. After officials ordered consumptives to be cared for outside of the Los Angeles city limits, the hospital became one for general care. A move to Boyle Heights was followed by one to Hollywood in 1930, at which time Cohn's heirs asked that the name of the Kaspare Cohn Hospital be changed to Cedars of Lebanon. Cedars-Sinai was formed after its merger with Mount Sinai Hospital in 1961
    • Kaspare Cohn married Hulda Newmark, Harris Newmark's niece, in 1872; her brother, prominent wholesale grocer Morris A. Newmark, bought 880 West Adams Street in 1901. Of six children born to the Cohns, two survived into adulthood. Ray, as Rachel was known, married Ben R. Meyer in 1904; Estelle's wedding to San Francisco businessman Milton E. Getz was held at 2601 South Grand on February 7, 1909. Both sons-in-law would become vice-presidents of the Kaspare Cohn Commercial & Savings Bank. In a sign of the tide of the affluent beginning to turn away from Adams Street and toward the Wilshire corridor, the Getzes would build 601 South Windsor Boulevard in 1913 in Windsor Square, opened in prairie two years before 
    • After an illness of six months, Kaspare Cohn died at 2601 South Grand Avenue early on the morning of November 19, 1916; 200 mourners were reported to have attended his funeral held in the house the next day
    • Hulda Cohn remained at 2601 South Grand until 1924, when she sold it to nearby U.S.C. as a new home for its College of Music; she would die on January 5, 1927, in Beverly Hills, one of the much more modern suburbs that were draining the Adams district, particularly its eastern reaches, of the affluent. Mrs. Cohn's old neighborhood was deep in transition by 1921; that year, the Taylor family, caddy-corner at 243 West Adams, built the first of two commercial structures in their front yard, right to the sidewalk at the northeast corner of Adams and Grand. (The Taylors had leased their house to a private girls' school just seven years after building it in 1901.) The five-story bulk of the Hotel Darby had replaced a single-family house on Adams just a lot from the southeast corner in 1909

    A view from virtually the same angle as the image at top
    (and at a similar hour) but 24 years later shows the growth of the
    front-yard tree and that the house had now been acquired by U.S.C.'s
    College of Music. The small building seen through the porte-cochère may
    be the Cohn grandchildren's playhouse. 
    Below is a detail of the south
    side of the house and part of the property's estensive gardens; it
    appeared in the 1930 edition of U.S.C.'s yearbook, El Rodeo.

    • On August 31, 1924, the Times reported that U.S.C.'s new building, ready to open for the fall semester, had 21 practice rooms and a recital hall for 300 (it is unclear in what part of the house such a large space might have been located). The university's purchasing department was issued permits by the Department of Building and Safety on September 17, 1924, for the installation of exterior fire escapes. The Taylor house, caddy-corner at 243 West Adams, was leased as an annex to the music school during the 1927-1928 academic year. When that house was scheduled for demolition in the spring, the annex was relocated to another old dwelling in the neighborhood—508 West Adams Boulevard—which still stands, though since 1945 at 127 East Adams Boulevard
    • Reports in the Times in the spring of 1931 announced that new on-campus quarters for U.S.C.'s College of Music were being planned; on August 27, 1933, the paper announced that the school was now occupying its new location
    • On November 1, 1933, the Department of Building and Safety issued a demolition permit for the 33-year-old Cohn house to the salvage company that had bought it. The garage was sold to Homer D. Brelsford; he was issued a permit on November 24 to move that structure to 7808 South Figueroa Street, where it appears to have survived until 2002
    • The site of the Cohn house would remain empty through the Depression and the war years; now part of a large parcel stretching south to West 27th Street, temporary tents as large as 100 by 220 feet were sometimes erected on the blockfront for religious revival meetings. In 1953, a six-story, 111-by-273-foot office building was completed on the parcel for the County of Los Angeles's Bureau of Public Assistance—since 1966 known as the Department of Public Social Services—and it remains there today                                                                                                                  

      Hulda and Kaspare Cohn were photographed in front of

      2601 South Grand Avenue not long after they built it. One of
      the photographer's images taken at the same time was colorized
      to be made into a postcard. Both views offer detail of the Arizona
      sandstone used on the base of the porch and lower course of
      the house as well as of the Craftsmanlike porch roof and
      delicate dentilation above the first-floor windows.

      In today's westerly view on Adams Boulevard from about 200 feet east of Grand Avenue, none of the
      original four corner houses survive and barely a trace of the intersection having once been a social
      crossroads of Los Angeles. The Cohn house lasted 33 years, with a massive block-long county
      office building replacing it 20 years later. The 7-Eleven store on the southeast corner is on
      the site of 240 West Adams, built in 1897 by member of the Stimson family, which
      sold it to Hancock Banning in 1905. In 1909, the Hotel Darby at left—now the
      Grace Apartment Hotel—replaced 234 West Adams, which was moved to
      340 West Adams and later demolished for a parking lot servicing
      the county office building on the Cohn's lot. The Taylor family
      built the large building at right in 1928 on the side lawn
      of their 243 West Adams; 10 years before that, the
      house the George Masons had built in 1889 at
      2527 South Grand—the northwest corner
      had been demolished by that family.

      Illustrations: Private Collection; El Rodeo; GSV