500 West Adams Boulevard

PLEASE ALSO SEE OUR COMPANION HISTORIES
FOR AN INTRODUCTION TO ADAMS BOULEVARD, CLICK HERE




  • Built in 1890 on a parcel comprised of Lots 10, 11, and a portion of 17 of Block A of the Treat Tract by John A. Henderson, president of the Southern California Lumber Company. Henderson had acquired the property from Ernest A. Cox in May 1890; he was issued a building permit for the house during the first week of June 1890
  • Henderson appears to have built 500 as a spec project; he sold it to banker John S. Park for $12,000 in October 1890. That December, Park acquired a portion of Lot 16 of Block A of the Treat Tract, thus squaring off his parcel and creating one of the largest plots in the district. Park was a director of City Bank along with Poindexter Dunn, who had recently bought 421 West Adams across the street
  • In early January 1892, John S. Park sold 500 to Isabella McAllaster, wife of George McAllaster, a jeweler based in Rochester, New York. The McAllasters would occupy 500, if briefly, as a winter home, along with their daughter Nellie and her husband, Los Angeles real estate operator Everett E. Hall. Everett Hall was an original developer of Angelino Heights. (The Halls were divorced in 1895)
  • Per the Los Angeles Herald of March 31, 1893: "H. Haskell of Detroit, Mich., has purchased from George McAllaster his beautiful home on Adams street near Figueroa, opposite Flower. This place was formerly owned by Mr. Parks [sic] of the City Bank. In the neighborhood of $20,000 cash was paid for it.... Mr. Haskell is one of Detroit's wealthy men, and in the fall will permanently remove to Los Angeles with his family."
  • Horatio C. Haskell had been in the real estate and insurance business in Detroit; once he relocated to Los Angeles, having been drawn to Southern California and to the Adams district in particular along with many Midwesterners, Haskell would develop Los Angeles real estate and represent the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. One might wonder if he felt some heat back in Michigan, forcing a move—according to news reports in early June 1894, Haskell appears to have been overfamiliar with typewriters, as their female operators were called along with their machines. After being accused of taking the arms of one of his flesh-and-blood typewriters into his hands and complimenting the "whiteness and beauty" of her limbs—as well as asking her to wear dresses of thinner fabric so as to better reveal her charms—the woman's father barged into Haskell's Bradbury Building offices and decked him. On June 3, the Herald  published the thanks of a group of former feminine employees of Haskell for the efforts of their employer's assailant. After Haskell confessed to the disciplinary committee of the First Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday school, the group decided that his pussy-grabbing was in this case merely a "thoughtless indiscretion." Then, in April 1895, after many more claims of harassment arose amid a high turnover of typewriters, the church expelled him. Away from the eyes of God, however, it was apparently considered that men will be men; Haskell retained his contract with Mutual as well as his wife, with the couple continuing to appear in newspaper society columns               
  • It is unknown as to whether or not it had to do with accusing eyes of their Adams Street neighbors, but Horatio and Julia Haskell would move to Union Avenue in the Westlake district within the year, retaining 500 as a rental property for several years. Among those occupying the house beginning in 1896 were real estate operator Dana H. Burks and Gordis Royal Cobleigh. Cobleigh ane his family arrived in Los Angeles from Peoria in July 1895 to settle, though they appear to have made a habit renting houses while in the city rather than purchase. The Cobleighs appear to have remained at 500 until the summer of 1898, when they moved one long block west to rent Nelson Story's house at 820 West Adams
  • In July 1898, Horatio Haskell sold 500 West Adams to Pomona citrus rancher and miner George Couch for a price the Herald reported on the 28th of that month as $12,000  
  • Early on the morning of August 14, 1901, with Mr. and Mrs. Couch away at the seaside, their great-niece was awakened by a burglar rummaging through bureau drawers in her bedroom; the perp fled when the young woman's father entered the room with a pistol. (Forty-eight hours later, the Couches' room at the the Hotel Julian in Long Beach was robbed; no connection between the incidents was reported)
  • George and Miranda Couch sold 500 West Adams in the summer of 1904. On August 4, the Herald reported two transactions, each for the nominal sum of $10, transferring the property first to George R. Graff, a Methodist Episcopal minister in Burbank (and apparently an acquaintance of Couch's, an active Methodist himself) who was involved in real estate in the San Fernando Valley; there may have been an exchange with Couch for Valley land. The second transfer of 500 reported on August 4, 1904, was Graff's to Charles Richards, a recent arrival from Chicago. In October, the Couches bought a house at the southwest corner of what is today Wilshire Boulevard and Union Avenue
  • Charles Richards, born in Cologne in 1833, was moving from Chicago after having retired from the coffee, tea, and spice business in Peoria. (Perhaps it was the Cobleighs, now living nearby on Figueroa Street, who alerted the Richardses of the availability of 500.) Richards and his German-born wife, Columba, had four daughters and a son, the youngest child being 18-year-old Bernard
  • On September 11, 1906, a building permit was issued to Charles Richards to add a room and a bath to the house; the architect was Charles E. Shattuck
  • In the cosmopolitan Los Angeles of the day, and with one of the largest properties on West Adams Street, the Richardses were readily accepted by what then constituted local society; their social movements would be well-covered by the local press
  • Charles Richards died at 500 West Adams on April 11, 1911, age 77
  • The Richardses' youngest daughter, Elizabeth Rose, was married to Dr. Warren Nichols Horton at 500 West Adams on June 4, 1912. Dr. Horton, the city bacteriologist during the notoriously corrupt administration of Mayor Arthur C. Harper, died at Angelus Hospital on July 5, 1913, age 33, after an appendicitis operation 
  • Columba Richards and Elizabeth Horton remained at 500 West Adams until the condemnation of the house for the southerly extension of Flower Street in 1931. Starting with the Major Traffic Street Plan of 1924, Los Angeles had begun to reconfigure and widen streets in all directions out of the downtown core, which would have dire consequences on the West Adams district and its already-fraying single-family nature well before the Harbor Freeway was driven through it in the 1950s. Flower Street had ended at West 20th Street, continuing only piecemeal beyond. Flower Street would now plow through the footprint of 500 West Adams. The house at 428 West Adams would manage to dodge the roadway by being moved back on its lot after a permit to do so was issued on February 25, 1931. Six days before, a permit had been issued to the Whiting-Mead Company, the wrecking company that had acquired 500 West Adams, for the demolition of the not-quite-41-year-old 16-room house
  • Mrs. Richards and Mrs. Horton moved to a newly built duplex at the southeast corner of Highland Avenue and Dockweiler Street, the latter name, interestingly enough, one long associated with their old neighborhood. Columba Richards died in Los Angeles on September 2, 1933, age 86



Flower Street did not extend south of Adams Boulevard until 1931; its path took out virtually all of
the original property of 500 as well as the house. Twenty years later, the Harbor/110 Freeway
would make an even wider cut. With Flower Street shunted west to run through the
footprint of 508 after that house was moved to 128 East Adams, the four
lanes and entrance ramps of the freeway obliterated any lingering
ambience of old West Adams in the area. To make way,
the house at 428 was moved (for a second time)
to West 39th Street; 422 was demolished,
as were others, including 414.
St. John's rectory was
demo'ed in 1956.



Illustrations: Private Collection