710 West Adams Boulevard


J. Ross Clark was the younger brother of bumptious Montana copper king and crooked U.S. senator William Andrews Clark; uncle of William Andrews Clark Jr., founder of the Los Angeles Philharmonic who also built the well-known private library at 2205 West Adams named for his father; and uncle of New York and Santa Barbara eccentric Huguette Clark. The Clarks were rich enough to seem not to care too much that their most well-know relative's reputation for crudeness and flamboyance or that their own peculiarities kept them out of the best circles of East Coast society; they were citizens of America rather than of just one coast or the other. J. Ross Clark was prominent and indefatigably industrious in his own right in Southern California; a big house was in order. In the fall of 1901, he bought a 142-by-360-foot parcel from leather-goods manufacturer Samuel B. Lewis, who had been living for a decade in a rose-covered cottage on the site of the house Clark would soon build. Lewis retained the west 100 feet of his original Adams frontage to form a new lot on which, by March 1902, he had plans to build a big new Colonial house to the design of Hudson & Munsell, to be addressed 718 West Adams Street. Lewis's original cottage, by now a relic of the district's exurban past, was apparently demolished rather than moved to make way for the Clark house.

The exact build date of the original 710 West Adams Street is unclear; seeming to clearly predate
Samuel B. Lewis's move into it in 1892, the house had been occupied recently by retired

Michigan physician Stephen Munroe prior to his death in December 1890.

In the spring of 1903, Hunt & Eager came up with an English design for the new 710 West Adams; there, nine years later, the Ross Clark family acquired its particular share of notoriety after their son Walter went down on the Titanic. Walter's wife Virginia, who survived, remarried too soon after becoming a widow for the tastes of her former in-laws, who tussled with her for custody of their grandchild for years while living at 710. J. Ross Clark II did not grow up to be a happy man, marrying several times. After pleading guilty to a drunk-driving charge in March 1941—he was nearly 31—Clark was ordered by a judge to be placed in the custody of his grandmother, who was still living at 710 West Adams (he would die in 1962 at the age of 51). His namesake had died in Los Angeles on September 18, 1927; the Times had eulogized him this way: "In the thinning ranks of the giants who planned and started the greater Southern California of today the place once occupied by J. Ross clark may never perhaps be so capably filled again." Miriam Evans Clark died in her long-time home on January 13, 1951. She left 710, less its contents, to U.S.C. in memory of her husband; it became a venue of the university's music school, which remained until not long before a permit for the house's demolition was issued by the Department of Building and Safety on June 12, 1975.

The view across the entrance hall and
into the parlor, below, of 710 West Adams as seen
in the Inland Architect and News Record.

Illustrations: Private Collection; USCDLHathiTrust