870 West Adams Boulevard


  • Completed in 1901 by Arizona cattle rancher Henry Clay Hooker on Lot 1 of the Belgravia Tract. In November 1900, Hooker acquired the lot from the estate of Thomas Bruen Brown, an attorney who had acquired an 11.7-acre orange grove in the fledgling neighborhood circa 1876. Brown, an older brother of Harrington Brown, built a one-story Italianate house near the center of his property within a few years. When he decided to subdivide his acreage he called it the Belgravia Tract—recorded in September 1887—and cut Portland Street down its center from Adams to West 28th Street. Brown died on February 10, 1893, with his wife, Eleanor Patton Brown, then managing lot sales. Their house, once facing north, was moved onto the newly delineated Lot 19 and reoriented to face west, where it remains today at 2626 Portland Street and is one of the most significant dwellings in Los Angeles. (A complete history of the property and of the Belgravia Tract is here)
  • As reported in the Los Angeles Herald on December 13, 1900, Hooker had recently been issued a building permit for a two-story frame residence and stable, expected to cost $14,000. It would face Adams, with is rear lot line part of the north lot line of the Brown house in its new location at 2626 Portland Street
  • Henry C. Hooker was the brother of John Daggett Hooker of 325 West Adams Boulevard; moving into 870 with him were his wife, Elizabeth, and his daughter Ida and her husband Madison Stewart, who also had business interests in Arizona while running a wholesale grocery concern in Los Angeles. Stewart wasn't able to enjoy the house for long after moving in, dying in Willcox, Arizona, after a stroke on June 17, 1902. On December 5, 1907, Henry Hooker died at home of pancreatic cancer, a month shy of his 80th birthday; his funeral was held in the house the next day after which he was buried at Hollywood Cemetery. His family would remain at 870 for another 31 years
  • Elizabeth Hooker died at home on March 14, 1915; Ida Stewart appears to have inherited the house, which had been and would be occupied for various periods by her brothers Edwin and Joseph and their wives and other family members. Edwin and Joseph had inherited their father's cattle interests in Arizona. Edwin died at 870 on February 4, 193
  • Ida Hooker Stewart died at home on May 30, 1937. The North University Park neighborhood had been deteriorating for at least a decade, the social old guard moving on to newer precincts, their former houses being converted into boarding establishments and fraternity houses—as had 854 West Adams, next door to Mrs. Stewart, home of U.S.C.'s fire-prone Phi Sigma Kappas since early in the decade. Ida Stewart's heirs decided that it was time for something new themselves; the contents of 870 was put up for auction on October 3, 1938, as offers for the house itself were being solicited:

  • On March 15, 1942, a classified ad ran in the Los Angeles Times offering accommodations in a "Lovely new guest home" at 870 West Adams, apparently aimed at U.S.C. students. The owner since the Hooker family sold the house is unclear, but by late 1949, it belonged to Paul Otto Tobeler, who was then living across the street at 825. Tobeler had been a fixture in the neighborhood since 1929, living first at the Mayfair Apartments on Scarff Street—which he would later own—adjacent to two of the houses he acquired in due course, 38 St. James Park and 825 West Adams. Apartments being his game, he turned those houses into multi-unit rentals, as he would 870, which he named Mayfair Manor. On December 23, 1949, he was issued a permit by the Department of Building and Safety—with a supplemental permit issued a few weeks later on January 6—for various alterations to 870. The house was described on the documents as an "apartment-hotel"
  • The property was acquired by Bel-Air developer Robert A. Wadsworth in 1963; the Department of Building and Safety issued him a demolition permit for the Hooker house on October 22 of that year. On the permit issued on January 29, 1964, for the three-story apartment building to replace the house, the owner was listed as "The Regal Trojan Arms," with Wadsworth designated as the contractor. Grading of the lot began in March, with the grand opening of the new 50-unit building, clearly aimed at U.S.C. students, being advertised in the Times in January 1965: "deluxe furnished one bedrooms, with utilities paid; pool, sundecks, recreation room, elevator, and subterranean parking." The certificate of occupancy was issued on October 5, 1965

The popularity of Adams Boulevard for multi-unit housing for U.S.C. students had begun in the early
1920s, when big residences in the old district became rooming establishments and fraternities
and sororities. Their replacements were often more modern versions of small-apartment
buildings; the Midcentury-esque tile façade of the Regal Trojan Arms, with its nod
to the university's football team, makes it somewhat more distinctive than
other boulevard housing of a similar vintage. It still stands at 870.

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT; GSV