832 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built on the west 75' of Lot 14 of the Severance Tract in 1904 by Frank Silas Hicks; the building permit for its construction was issued during the week of March 21
  • Architect: Hudson & Munsell (Frank D. Hudson and William A. O. Munsell)
  • Frank Hicks had married Ozro W. Childs's daughter Carrie on April 29, 1890, 12 days after the death of Mr. Childs. The marriage took place at her parents' house at 1111 South Main Street, centered in a large estate bounded by today's Main, Hill, Eleventh, and Twelfth streets. After having come west for the Gold Rush, Vermont-born Ozro William Childs settled in nascent Los Angeles within weeks of California's admission to the Union on September 9, 1850. The proceeds of a mercantile venture and a nursery business in his new home—as well as from introducing the honeybee to Southern California in 1855—got Childs started, but it was the acreage south of the settled area with which he was paid after having been given the contract to extend the water-bearing zanja in that direction that made his fortune. He became a banker, partnering with, among others, Isaias Hellman in forming the Farmers and Merchants Bank (which eventually became part of the current Bank of America); he also invested in more land toward Adams Street, eventually donating property to help found U.S.C. in 1880. After his death, his wife, Emeline, and six children continued to be much involved together in Los Angeles real estate
  • Frank Hicks became a general insurance agent in partnership with his brother-in-law Ozro W. Childs Jr.; after his marriage, he moved into a house at 1104 South Main, across the street from his mother-in-law and several other of her children
  • It was reported in the Los Angeles Herald on February 23, 1902, that the Ozro W. Childs family would "start a series of houses on West Adams street," an endeavor in some ways replicating its former demesne on Main Street. That year the matriarch, Emeline, and her newly-married youngest child, Stephen, would begin building new houses on Adams Street near Arlington Avenue, at what was then the western edge of Los Angeles. Mrs. Childs built 3100 West Adams; Stephen, 3125. Frank and Carrie Hicks chose to build less in the bosom, moving to our subject house midway between the Main Street property and other family members. (Emeline Childs's household at 3100 would include, over the years, son Ozro Jr., his wife, Susan, and their children, as well as daughter Ruth and her family; Ruth had married her brother Stephen's wife's brother Alpheus Redman in 1903)
  • The elder of the Hickses' two daughters, Elizabeth, married Robert Frank Gross at 832 on October 30, 1912
  • A building permit was issued to Frank Hicks on July 7, 1915, for a new garage to be built at 832; architects cited are Hunt & Burns (Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns)
  • Frank Hicks died at Good Samaritan Hospital on September 9, 1918
  • Carrie Hicks remained in the house after the death of her husband, with the Grosses moving in for a short period of time; by 1925, with the neighborhood beginning its decline, she was ready to sell. Large display advertisements in the Times during early summer 1925 offer the house at an auction to be held July 1. Mrs. Hicks moved in with the Grosses, nearby on West 30th Street; after a stop at 7 Chester Place, she settled at 143 North Van Ness Avenue, where she died at 71 on September 11, 1942
  • 832 was acquired by Susana Watkins, who, following the West Adams trend of converting large residences into rooming houses, added an exterior fire escape (population was exploding in Los Angeles during the 1920s, enabling new owners to exploit aging buildings as the original occupants left for more modern neighborhoods along the Wilshire Corridor and on the emerging Westside). The house was acquired by Frank Oswald the next year; he leased the house to the U.S.C. chapter of Kappa Alpha
  • Mrs. Watkins's fire escape became useful when a blaze broke out in the KA house on November 1, 1929, destroying the roof. The repairs involved remodeling the roofline to that seen in the image at top, which can be compared to a façade view in the advertisement below. Oswald continued to lease 832 to the fraternity; a neighborhood kerfuffle in 1940 illustrates the clash of values in an evolving neighborhood: Some lingering longtime residents resisted the evolution, including William May Garland of 815 West Adams across the street, who complained in court about the rowdiness of the KA brothers, wishing to have them evicted from the neighborhood. The brothers won the battle, but did move to West 28th Street not long after
  • The John Tracy Clinic, specializing in teaching hearing-impaired preschool children, had been founded by Mrs. Spencer Tracy in July 1942 after her and her husband's experience raising their son. In acquiring new property in 1950 for expansion, 832 would eventually belong to the clinic, which was issued a demolition permit for the house on August 17, 1964

A remodeling after a fire in 1929 resulted in the loss of the corner gable of 832 and other
changes to the roofline; compare the view here in a 1925 advertisement with the later
image at top. While 1925 auction ads for the house cited the owner's immediate
departure from the city—one citing her as "well-known in Los Angeles,
both socially and financially"—Carrie Hicks, born there in 1871,
would remain until her death in September 1942.

Illustrations: UCLA; LAT