745 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1909 on a site designated "Lot B, Tract 98" by the former owner, the Walter Newhall estate, it still stands. The property, originally part of the Adams frontage of 747 West Adams Street a block north—a house subsequently addressed 21 Chester Place—was later designated "Lot 1, Tract 11861" after a new owner moved in in 1937 and expanded the parcel to the west
  • On January 3, 1909, the Los Angeles Times reported that the W. M. Garland Company, acting as agents for the Newhall estate, sold the irregular 100-by-175-foot lot to printing executive John Lake Garner, who had arrived in Los Angeles from Pittsburgh four years before. On February 24, the Department of Buildings issued Garner a permit to begin construction of a 12-room house on the lot
  • Architect: Hunt, Eager & Burns (Sumner P. Hunt, A. Wesley Eager, and Silas R. Burns)
  • Not long after moving into 745 with his wife, Janette, his two grown daughters, Virginia and Janette Jr., and his teenage son, John Lake Garner Jr., Garner left Union Lithographic to form a short-lived partnership dealing in real estate, insurance, and investments with Walter S. Lysle, who he appears to have known in Pittsburgh and who had preceded him in coming to Los Angeles by several years
  • On March 26, 1913, Janette Garner Jr. was married to Kenneth Grant of New York at St. John's Episcopal Church, just east of the house at Figueroa Street. A reception followed at 745 West Adams. Virginia Garner married Alfred Hastings of Los Angeles at St. John's on December 1, 1920; their reception was also held at 745
  • After his partnership with Lysle ended, Garner became chairman of the Stationers' Association of Southern California and remained in that position before retiring from business in 1924. The Garners were ready to move out of 745. Planning to travel, they took an apartment at The Darby at 234 West Adams on the other side of Figueroa. Their move may have also had to do with the changes afoot next door in Chester Place—the Dohenys, always rather rapacious when it came to acquiring what they could in the neighborhood, had become even more paranoid after Mr. Doheny was embroiled in the notorious Teapot Dome scandals. While several sources—including a popular paperback titled Los Angeles's Chester Place—have repeated that Erasmus Wilson, who built 7 Chester Place in 1903, died in 1920 with the Dohenys then acquiring his house, he was in fact very much alive and would live for another eight years. In the meantime, the Dohenys, who always flashed their checkbook when they wanted something, may indeed have made an offer that Erasmus couldn't refuse and that would relieve he and his wife of the oilman's annoying need to control his environment...and which just happened to dovetail with the Garners' plans. By the summer of 1924, the Wilsons were embarking on an extensive remodel of their new house at 745 West Adams, next to but outside of the Doheny's fiefdom. (By 1930, the Garners had settled into a house designed by Paul R. Williams at 141 South Las Palmas in Hancock Park, another of the Old Guard to leave West Adams behind. On August 27, 1924, the Department of Buildings issued Erasmus Wilson a permit to add a second floor to the garage of 745 to provide a servants' quarters.
  • On August 27, 1924, the Department of Buildings issued Erasmus Wilson a permit to add a second floor to the garage of 745 to provide a servants' quarters. On September 3, a permit was issued to add a 12-by-25-foot one-story addition to the rear of the house, a two-story bay on the east side, and a porte-cochère topped by a den over the west-side driveway. Hunt & Burns, successor to the original design firm, was the architect
  • Erasmus Wilson died at 745 West Adams on August 21, 1928. His widow, Flora, having taken an apartment at the new Town House on Wilshire Boulevard, died there on December 20, 1929. Though her obituary in the Times described her as being "of 745 West Adams," in a sign of the changing fortunes of the West Adams district, earlier in the year Mrs. Wilson had sold her house to Swami Paramananda, who dedicated the Vedanta Center at 745 on January 14, 1930. News of the the swami and his offerings at 745 were reported with local church news alongside that of other ecclesiastical eminences, such as George Davidson of St. John's Episcopal, for less than two years; the building essentially became a boarding house for the swami's disciples, which must have driven the neighbors—most especially the Dohenys—to distraction (one wonders if Mrs. Wilson might have especially enjoyed anticipating the Dohenys' discomfort when she sold to the swami). At any rate, the mystic ran into financial difficulties immediately, reportedly putting the Vedanta Center on the market just four months after it had been dedicated. With the West Adams district having begun its rapid decline well before the stock market crash, the house appears to have remained unsold, with the swami then renting it to another kind of boarding establishment. As did many large houses in the neighborhood, 745 became a U.S.C. fraternity house, with Sigma Tau's tenancy in 1934 being followed by that of Chi Phi before the house, most unusually, was given an unprecedented second Old Guard life instead of being boarded up or demolished
  • Estelle Doheny—her husband had died in 1935—must have been relieved once the swami and the Greeks moved away from her gates. The positive side of the Dohenys having so voraciously bought up all that they could in Chester Place—only renting to courtiers and other loyalists—is that their acquisitiveness has largely preserved the gated enclave to this day; Mrs. Doheny's provision of stability to homeowners just outside of her gates (but really not much farther) during the lean years of the '30s may have given some confidence to a purchaser who came along in 1937, as would have the tenacity of William May Garland, who showed no sign of wanting to move from 815 West Adams to a newer district other than frequent complaints to the police about panty raids and other Greek debauchery in the old houses surrounding him, which he would have remembered as the sites of more genteel gatherings. There was also the example of the equally stalwart Dockweilers at nearby 27 St. James Park. Albert Carlos Jones, described as a pioneer Los Angeles opera impresario, would help save a small stretch of Adams Boulevard from the ravages of time and disrespectful frat boys by buying 745, an old barn that would have still been impressive to a man in the arts moving from a bungalow in the glamorous-sounding-but-not Montecito Heights neighborhood, north of downtown but definitely not Pasadena. Jones's purchase was no doubt encouraged by Mrs. Doheny, and influenced if not financed by his having a daughter who was major supporter of the Assemblies—an annual subscription ball very important in the local haute bourgeois Establishment, helping to keep capital-S society together especially after its diaspora began in the '20s, away from West Adams in particular—and who lived just around the corner at 12 St. James Park. The plan appears to have been for Helen Jones Meyler and her husband, Robert, a boiler manufacturer, to move into 745 with her parents, both invalids—this at least became the plan after Albert Carlos Jones expired at St. Vincent's Hospital on October 13, 1937, almost as soon as he had moved into his new house
  • Obituaries for Jones appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other local papers, as well as in The New York Times and Variety. They described his having managed the old Childs Opera House and his association with Oliver Morosco and David Belasco in stage productions. Another of his legacies was the Meylers' continuing to carry the flag for the Southwest Blue Book in old, decrepit West Adams
  • Jones had bought more property than the 100-foot-wide lot upon which 745 West Adams stood; he also bought Adams frontage adjacent to the west, part of a parcel that once held 755 West Adams as well what appears to have once been the driveway of 21 Chester Place, a block north
  • Anna Pendleton Jones (who described herself as an "authoress of fiction"), would live with her daughter and son-in-law at 745 until she died at home on June 30, 1956. In the meantime, her grandchildren left as they were married: Eve Meyler to Whittier boy Robert Craig at St. John's in 1946, with the reception at 745; Robert Jr. to Barbara Broatch of Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, in 1949, also at St. John's and with a reception at 745; and, in 1958, Jim to Valley Girl Dorothy Leifson (radically, the wedding and reception taking place in Granada Hills)...liaisons that were some evidence of a youthful urge to expand beyond the provincial social delineations of the Assembly Ball (and those of youthful versions put on by the Bachelors and Spinsters clubs). The senior Meylers—loyal West Adamsites in league with the Dockweilers of 27 St. James Park, the Garlands of 815 West Adams, and the Storys, Hogans and Hulls of 840—would stay on, not leaving their house until as late as 1961, when the Santa Monica Freeway began to wall off the West Adams district from the long-since more fashionable northerly neighborhoods to which they would finally retreat

Illustration: Private Collection