840 West Adams Boulevard
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PLEASE ALSO SEE OUR COMPANION HISTORIES
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Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT; USCDL
- Built in 1892 as 820 West Adams Street by Montana cattleman turned Los Angeles real estate investor Nelson Story; his purchase from lumberman and real estate developer John A. Henderson of the east 75 feet of Lot 15 of the Severance Tract, at the southwest corner of Severance Street, was reported in the Los Angeles Times on February 14, 1892. Henderson had acquired the full Lot 15 in 1887; he'd sold the west 70 feet, apparently improved with the house still at 854 West Adams, to Albert Duffill in 1891
- Even as he became heavily involved in Los Angeles property over the years, Nelson Story used the house primarily as a winter residence, remaining based in Bozeman. Retaining ownership of 820, Story decided to rent it from 1898 to 1905, first to grading contractor Gordis Royal Cobleigh, who had been living at 500 West Adams. The Cobleighs were followed in 1903 by real estate operator Charles A. Smith; occupying the house during 1904 and into 1905 was Seeley W. Mudd, who had recently come to Los Angeles as a consulting mining engineer for the Guggenheim Exploration Company. (Mudd's sons were Harvey Mudd, the mining engineer and namesake of Harvey Mudd College at Claremont and philanthropist Seeley G. Mudd, whose name appears on dozens of buildings he financed at colleges across the country)
- In 1905, what was now 840 West Adams would again be occupied by the Story family. Nelson, however, would remain based in Bozeman, sometimes staying in the house when he was in town on business; his daughter, Rose, and her husband, Dr. Gerrit Lansing Hogan, arrived from Bozeman to take up permanent residence at 840 with their daughter and three sons. Her father gave the house to Rose and her husband, the former being identified as the official owner in subsequent documents. (Mrs. Hogan's brother Walter P. Story also relocated to Los Angeles in 1905; he would eventually live in the penthouse of the Walter P. Story Building at Sixth and Broadway, completed in 1910 and reportedly a gift to Walter from his father, who had purchased the lot in 1895)
- On the morning of September 19, 1913, a 45-year-old barber was struck and killed by a motorcyclist after getting off a streetcar at Adams and Hoover; the Hogans' 20-year-old son, Vander Veer, was the rider. Van, as he was known, was arrested and held for a time while police considered bringing charges of manslaughter against him. Nothing appears to have come of the incident other than the barber's death
|The Nelson Story house is seen from across the lawn of the Charles Capen house at 818 West Adams|
before Frank Hicks built 832 in 1904 between the two. The Capen house is on record as having
been designed by William O. Merithew and Walter Ferris; there is indication that the same
team may have been responsible for 840. Glimpsed beyond 840 are Albert Duffill's
854 and the chimneys of Richard Blaisdell's 880 of 1895. In 1901 Henry C.
Hooker's 870 West Adams would be built between 870 and 880.
- The Hogans would remain at 840 until soon after Rose's death at 840 West Adams on May 25, 1953. They were among the few of the Old Guard who chose to remain in the neighborhood alongside boarding establishments and fraternity houses through the withering of the West Adams district's fortunes alongside the Garlands of 815 West Adams, the Meylers of 745, and Julia Dockweiler of 27 St. James Park. Family life at 840 also had its ups and downs. On January 3, 1925, thieves posing as deliverymen locked up a maid, who was at home alone, and ransacked the house, making off with $1,000 worth of jewelry. The Hogans' son Nelson went through a particularly messy divorce (or near-divorce) in 1926 that lasted into the next year. Nelson and his wife, Felicia, who had married in 1921, sued each other, claiming physical and mental cruelty; at one point in the very public proceedings, he was fined $200 for battery and received a suspended jail term. She claimed that he refused to work, that he was deep in debt, and that he gave her no money. On February 22, 1926, the Times reported obscurely that police were called to the couple's Maryland Drive house after, it seems, Felicia "found Mr. Hogan and another man asleep in the house." On March 9, the paper, which described Mr. Hogan as an oil man—"president of the National Drilling Corporation"—reported that "Mrs. Hogan told of having to pawn her diamonds and of begging futiley of her husband's father.... '[Nelson] told me once that a Hogan would never soil his hands with labor, and that they all treated their women rough.'" (The couple somehow stay married and are buried together in a Helena, Montana, cemetery)
- The Hogans' daughter, Amelia Western Hogan, had married native San Franciscan George Benjamin Hull at St. John's Episcopal Church a block east of 840 on February 7, 1923, with a wedding breakfast following at the house. Amelia and George, who was a Wharton graduate set to begin a career as a stockbroker in Los Angeles after a year's honeymoon sailing around the world, stopped briefly at 840 upon their return, settling in Beverly Hills by 1925. The Depression seems to have changed the Hulls' fortunes; by the mid-'30s, they were living back at 840 with their sons George Jr. and Gerrit Lansing Hull, with George Sr.'s occupation listed in the city directory as "clerk." After Rose Hogan's death in 1953, the Hulls retained but left 840 and moved back to Beverly Hills, taking Dr. Hogan to live with them. He died at the Hulls' house at 515 North Rodeo Drive on December 31, 1956
- On January 24, 1952, the Times reported extensively on a surprise party given at 840 by the Hulls in honor of her parents' 62nd wedding anniversary: "For hours old friends and new came to congratulate the distinguished couple and to recall again other parties they had attended in the wonderful old house...to remember how their parents and grandparents before them had been guests in the same...high-ceilinged rooms, perfectly proportioned for formal entertaining, [with] heavily brocaded silk hung on their walls. In the drawing room, hall, small morning room and dining room the colors, a rich medieval red and bottle green, are mellowed with age.... Fortunately, the furnishings have been kept as they were when the Hogans came to the house...almost a half-century ago.... Most of the paintings and objects of art came from the Glen Cove, Long Island, home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry [Membery] Western, [great] grandparents of Mrs. George Benjamin Hull...."
- The Story/Hogan/Hull house would remain in the same family from its construction to its demolition 73 years later. After his parents and grandfather moved to Beverly Hills, Gerrit Hull, now a civil engineer, lived at 840 even after his marriage in 1958 and until 1964. The christening of his second daughter was held at St. John's on March 26, 1961, with a family reception afterward at 840
- There would soon be a rupture in the 40-year marriage of Amelia Hull; she and George would divorce, with her then marrying George Riley, with whom she would remain on Rodeo Drive. Her change in circumstances precipitated what must have been the difficult decision to demolish 840, now 73 years old and no doubt a serious drain in terms of maintenance dollars. Understanding that the Santa Monica Freeway, the 10, planned in the '50s and being completed in stages in the early '60s before the final, westernmost segment opened on January 5, 1966, would effectively isolate the neighborhood from the now-preferred Wilshire-corridor districts, owners of other old houses alongside 840 were reaching the same decision as had Mrs. Riley: 818 had come down in 1956, 870 in 1963, 832 just across Severance in late 1964, with 880 scheduled to be bulldozed right after the Story-Hogan-Hull house; the demolitions would also be a timely in view of the dramatic civic unrest that came the next summer, tensions presaged in the 1964 film Lady in a Cage. The Department of Building and Safety issued Amelia Riley a permit to raze the family house on January 15, 1965. It is unclear how long she may have retained the property, which included the north 50 feet of the Severance Tract's Lot 16 as well as the Adams-facing east half of Lot 15, or if the Watts riots of the following August may have delayed its redevelopment. In the event, the site was acquired by U.S.C., which built the current three-story, 205-foot-long apartment house, addressed 2605 Severance Street, after a building permit was issued on June 30, 1978. (The building is signed as the "Hillview Apartments," which may on rare occasion cause confusion with the historic apartment house of the same name at the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Hudson Avenue.) The seven-decades-plus tenure of the original family at 840 West Adams appears to be a record for the immediate neighborhood exceeded only by that of the Stearns and Dockweilers around the corner at 27 St. James Park
As seen in the Los Angeles Times on February 18, 1923, as
well as in other local papers including the Examiner, the wedding
party of Amelia Hogan and George Benjamin Hull; among the bridesmaids
are Margaret Gray of 1 Berkeley Square and Gwendolyn Longyear, who lived at
645 South Ardmore (later addressed 3555 Wilshire Boulevard). Van Hogan, the bride's
brother, is the third groomsman from left. Below, at a party given at 840 West Adams on
January 22, 1952, the occasion of their 62nd wedding anniversary, Gerrit and Rose
Hogan are seen with their daughter, the 1923 bride, and Walter P. Story, Mrs.
Hogan's youngest brother. Among those on the guest list were friends
with names long associated with the West Adams district such as
Dockweiler, Miner, Garland, Toberman, and Brunswig.
Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT; USCDL