755 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1890 by Frederick Harkness on a parcel comprised of Lot 1 and the easterly 15½ feet of Lot 2 of the St. James Park Tract; on February 2, 1890, the Los Angeles Herald reported that a building permit for a $5,500 frame building on the parcel had been issued to Harkness's wife, Sallie Sparks Harkness, during the prior week. Fred Harkness was one of the original developers of the St. James Park Tract along with George Wilson King and John Downey Harvey (nephew of former California governor John G. Downey); real estate man William May Garland, whose sign appears above on a lot he would improve with his own house at 815 West Adams Street in 1900, would be involved in the marketing of St. James Park. Predating by 11 years its more famous adjacent tract, Chester Place, the subdivision had opened in 1888. Harkness had earlier been a Los Angeles hotelier and an organizer of street railways in the city
  • The Harknesses would have moved into 755 West Adams not long after the birth of their ninth child on May 30, 1890; joining them in the new house was Fred Harkness's mother, Clara. The senior Mrs. Harkness died on March 8, 1891, with her funeral being held in the new house two days later
  • During the 1890s, with real estate having been deeply and protractedly affected by the Panic of 1893, Harkness occupied himself as secretary of the Puente Oil Company, as a notary public, and by serving as a U.S. deputy collector of customs. The economic downturn lasted into 1897, when he moved his family to his citrus ranch near Pomona, apparently renting 755 that year until its sale to lumber executive William A. Driscoll on September 27, as reported in the Times the next day. Driscoll promptly sold the house to Frederick Augustus Walton, an insurance broker in need of a large house. Walton was moving from the considerably smaller 2111 Bonsallo Avenue nearby
  • In addition to his insurance business and investments, Fred Walton was a notary public and secretary of the California Mutual Building & Loan Association. His first wife, Sarah, had died on September 29, 1896; on November 19 of the following year, he married Henrietta B. Tuttle, an Oakland divorcée. Nettie, as she was known, came with three children, Harry, Winsor, and Lucille Tuttle, who were promptly adopted by Walton, taking his surname. The children were joining Frank, Clara, and Charles Walton—not quite the Brady Bunch; not quite The Waltons either
  • The Waltons added a garage and laundry room to the property in 1906
  • With various children in and out of the house, the Waltons would remain at 755 West Adams until 1932. Fred Walton had died in Los Angeles on March 5, 1923; Nettie was moving to 2709 Orchard Avenue, where her daughter Lucille lived with her husband Earl and their five daughters. Nettie, apparently still spry at 79, would die there suddenly on February 15, 1933
  • Acting as Nellie Walton's real estate agent in marketing 755, or having acquired it himself, William May Garland's firm was offering the house for sale in early 1932, priced at $15,000, per an advertisement appearing in the Times on April 3, 1932. Garland if not a new owner may have been the landlords who rented rooms at 755 for the time being—including to what turned out to be Garland's nemeses, U.S.C. fraternities—or it may be that the house remained unsold as the economic malaise deepened and the market for aging barns in a deteriorating neighborhood continued to dry up, with the owner of the property having to wait a while before finding a buyer. In any case, the Department of Building and Safety issued a demolition permit for 755 on July 28, 1937. The west 15½ feet of its parcel appears to have been added to Garland's 815 site, with the balance of its 74-foot-wide lot being acquired by the family of opera impresario Albert Carlos Jones, who died on October 13 of that year having only months before moved into 745 West Adams next door; Jones's daughter and son-in-law, the Robert G. Meylers, relocated from their house around the corner at 12 St. James Park to join Mrs. Jones, who was an invalid. The expanded lot of 745, and the house itself, a rare survivor—remain today as part of Mount St. Mary's University. The Meylers and the Garlands were unsual in that they would stay in their houses until very late—the Garlands until 1958 and the Meylers until 1961—despite the West Adams district having been vacated by at least 98 percent of their social cohort for newer suburbs to the north and west such as Windsor Square, Fremont Place, Hancock Park, and those on the Westside

Advertising the St. James Park tract circa 1890 on what would in 10 years
become the site of his own house, William May Garland was one of
Los Angeles's major developers at the time. Not apparent in
the image at top—the only view of 755 West Adams
found thus far—is that the billboard is diagonally
delineated in red and white. This motif was
was long a Garland Company trade-
mark, as were usually accurate
population predictions.

Illustrations: Babcock AncestryLAPL