1100 West Adams Boulevard


  • Completed in 1899 for Maria Argüello Wilcox on a parcel comprised of Lots 1, 2, 3, 10, and 11 of the Monmouth Tract. On September 8, 1898, the Los Angeles Herald reported that architect Frederick L. Roehrig had taken bids on his plans for the residence, "to be erected on the southwest corner of Adams and Hoover streets."  A progress report in the Herald on February 10, 1899, noted that "Mrs. Wilcox...is building a handsome new home, in the Moorish style of architecture...." It wouldn't be until October 20 that the paper reported that Mrs. Wilcox, along with her divorced eldest daughter, Mary, would soon be moving into 1100 West Adams Street
  • Maria Wilcox was the widow of Alfred H. Wilcox, a sea captain who had arrived in California in 1848. His marriage to Maria in 1863 was advantageous, to say the least: She was a granddaughter of Santiago Argüello, whose family was a major Southern California landowner, and the great-granddaughter of a founder of El Pueblo de la Reina de los Ángeles in 1781. The couple settled in San Diego, where Alfred went into banking; by 1881, though now with banking and real estate interests in Los Angeles, they were living in San Francisco, where Alfred died on August 15, 1883. It would be a decade before Maria moved permanently to Los Angeles, where her son, Alfred Jr., was continuing to invest family capital in real estate and to which her daughter Mary had moved after her marriage to C. Tyler Longstreet in San Francisco on January 28, 1886; one of Alfred Jr.'s offerings as a broker at the time was the Adams Street property of Charles Longstreet, Tyler's father, who had died in 1877. Tyler Longstreet would disappear not long after he married Mary Wilcox; on February 9, 1898, the Los Angeles Herald reported that he had returned to Los Angeles after a "decade of wandering" in Latin America. The article is full of his political opinions and tales of adventure, but, while it mentions that he was now settling down to business life, it doesn't mention his wife. According to the Los Angeles Times of September 25, 1898, he had divorced her during the previous week, with property division not being an issue, there having been a pre-nup. Cornelius Tyler Longstreet died indigent in a tuberculosis asylum in Melbourne, Australia, on May 10, 1917 
  • Maria Wilcox, Alfred Wilcox, and Mary Longstreet were renting the Capen house at 818 West Adams Street in 1897; by 1899, pending the completion of 1100 West Adams, the family was living with Maria's youngest daughter, Tulita—Mrs. Randolph Huntington Miner—and her husband at 2301 Scarff Street. (Mrs. Miner would be building her own famous and still-extant West Adams Street house at #649 in 1904.) Mrs. Wilcox's middle daughter, Frances, known as Fannie, was married to banker James Calhoun Drake; the couple had built 2715 South Hoover Street, just down the street from 1100 West Adams. (This house would burn in 1909 and be replaced with another, a rather huge brick dwelling that Mrs. Drake had picked up and moved to 70 Fremont Place in 1930)
  • The Wilcoxes were among those of the upper classes who took the rule of one's name appearing in print only at birth, marriage, and death only as a suggestion; the mentions of their comings and goings and teas and luncheons are endless. Maria seemed not to mind her house being featured prominently in the Los Angeles Herald on January 1, 1905, with the writer, as chroniclers in the shelter press still do, striving to present her luxurious dwelling as "homelike," all the while describing its architecture as grand Italian Renaissance. (The Herald's earlier description of the house as "Moorish" apparently did not fit the finished product.) Today the house stands with its details and texture stripped and its most intriguing feature, a large open outdoor living room at the northeast corner, indelicately glassed in. The Herald's 1905 story conjures what once was: "The approach is by means of broad and winding concrete walks which lead the visitor through the spacious and well-kept grounds to the wide porch facing the Hoover street side of the house. This porch...is as large as an ordinary living room.... Four columns with arcade effects at the top support the roof, and the floor is partly covered with rugs, while scattered about are a number of inviting chairs and footrests for the use of the family and guests who may desire to enjoy the warmth of the forenoon sun. Trailing vines and growing plants add to the beauty and attractiveness of the inviting nook, which is in fact the outer reception hall of the mansion." A tour of the interior followed: "The broad entrance leads the visitor into a wide reception hall, which opens into the large parlor, the library and drawing room, all of liberal dimensions and lofty ceilings. Other rooms on the first floor include a den, [and] the spacious dining room.... The upper story is divided into eight large bedrooms, connecting bathrooms and dressing rooms.... In all Los Angeles it is doubtful if any family dwells in a more commodiously or luxuriously appointed home than the owner of this elegant establishment"
  • On April 8, 1909, the Los Angeles Times as well as the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Mrs. Wilcox had been stricken with pneumonia and was confined to her house at 1100 West Adams; the Chronicle went so far as to have her "at death's door." The Times was somewhat more hopeful, but its article reads more as an early obituary than a mere health report. Maria Argüello Wilcox died at 1100 West Adams Street on April 18, 1909; while the press gave her age as 73, and someone in the household at at 1100 reported to the 1900 Federal census enumerator that she was born in 1837, the censuses of 1850 and 1870 indicate that she was actually born in 1834. Maria Wilcox's 1905 will was detailed in the press within days. A rather creepy stipulation of it was that Alfred would receive a $15,000 bonus if he would refrain from marrying before she died; considering that estimates of the worth of her estate were as high as $2,000,000—$53,000,000 in today's currency—the pittance would seem easy to dismiss for a healthy 36-year-old man, and yet Junior would wait another 12 years before marrying. As the only son, Alfred received a larger part of his mother's extensive investment portfolio anyway, as well as all of her silverware. He also received equal interest with his three sisters in other property in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and in San Diego and San Bernardino counties. He and Mary were left equal interest in 1100 West Adams Street
  • On December 11, 1913, the Department of Buildings issued a permit for a floored tent to be put up in the yard of 1100 West Adams for one night; on December 16, Alfred and Mary Longstreet were hosts of a debutante party honoring their niece, Daphne Drake. In its coverage of the party the next day, the Times reported that "several large trees" were removed to make way for the marquee. "[William] Arend's orchestra played from a booth in the tent, secluded with palms and other potted plants"
  • Alfred Wilcox married Katharine Strickler on the morning of June 15, 1921, just before her 30th birthday. After the ceremony at St. Agnes Church at Adams and Vermont—it appears that Katharine had been required to convert to Catholicism—a wedding breakfast was held by their close friend Louise Burke at her house on Berkeley Square
  • On November 23, 1926, the Wilcoxes' butler, José Laso pleaded not guilty to theft of household items detectives claim he had hidden in his trunk. The Times did not follow up its report the next day with news of his fate
  • In the summer of 1932, Alfred Wilcox hired architect Robert D. Farquhar to remodel the servants' quarters over the garage; the Department of Building and Safety issued a permit for this work on June 16
  • On June 14, 1936, the Times revealed the names of those invited to Alfred and Katharine Wilcox's 15th anniversary party to be held in the garden of 1100 West Adams the next day, something of a roster of what constituted the old guard of Los Angeles. There were, of course, the names Wilcox, Longstreet, Drake, and Miner on the list; "asked to assist" Mrs. Wilcox in her hostessing duties were Mrs. Henry O'Melveny, wife of the Wilcoxes' longtime attorney, as well as Mmes William May Garland of 815 West Adams, Granville MacGowan of 3726, Carleton Burke, Richard Schweppe, James Rathwell Page, and Miss Louise Burke. By 1936, even most of these stalwart guests would have left the declining neighborhoods lining what was now called West Adams Boulevard for newer suburbs
  • Alfred H. Wilcox Jr.—"pioneer and capitalist," as the Times referred to him—died at 1100 West Adams on July 28, 1939, age 66. His memberships in the usual ruling-class clubs were cited, including the local California and Los Angeles Country clubs and the Pacific Union and Bohemian in San Francisco. Katharine Wilcox was left the house
  • One might have thought that Mrs. Wilcox would have sold 1100 West Adams after the death of her husband, given the neighborhood's decline; it would have seemed even more likely after she and the distinguished Washington diplomat Ralph Waldo Snowden Hill took out a marriage license in August 1941. (Mr. Hill was then 59. He had never been married before and had lived with his mother in Washington until her death the previous November.) Instead, the Hills kept the house as a West Coast base, perhaps as late as the death of Mr. Hill in Washington on August 3, 1954
  • Mary Longstreet moved out of 1100 West Adams at the time of her brother's marriage in 1921; her first stop was her Aunt Fanny Drake's house down the street at 2715 South Hoover. She left town soon after to live abroad, returning to Los Angeles in the '30s, taking up residence at the Chateau Chaumont at 855 South Serrano; toward the end of the 1940s, she was living at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. She died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles on October 24, 1950, age 86. Her obituary in the Times the next day, headlined MRS. MARY LONGSTREET OF PIONEER FAMILY DIES, concentrated on her ancestry, revealing little of the woman herself. Of her immediate family, only her sister Tulita Miner survived her
  • While it is unclear as to when the organization acquired it, a building permit was issued by the Department of Building and Safety to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles on January 18, 1955. Lots 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of the Monmouth Tract—which included the house next door at 1124 West Adams—were being combined, per permit information, as one parcel under the name of the Order of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, Inc. The January permit called for the removal of an unspecified balcony. While 1124 West Adams was demolished in 1967 and replaced with a new residence for the Order, 1100 West Adams survives as part of its campus today

The entrance porch of 1100 West Adams, facing Hoover Street, was described as an outdoor living
room complete with rugs. Passengers on the Los Angeles Railway's U line, riding along Hoover
at just the right height to see over the garden wall, might have enjoyed gawking at
the Wilcoxes as they tried to enjoy the afternoon paper. Even as the chugs
and klaxons of automobiles began to add to the grinding of streetcar
wheels at their busy corner, the family held firm in their
fraying neighborhood for over a half century. 

More privacy came with maturing vegetation; while the house
faced Hoover Street and its streetcar line, the entrance path led from
a corner gate on Adams. A rendering from 2009, below, reveals the
bones if not the delicacy of Frederick Roehrig's original design.

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAH