1124 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1893 as 1024 West Adams Street by banker and real estate developer Frederick C. Howes, as his own home, on Lots 12 and 13 of the Monmouth Tract. Howes was at the time developing his Howes Tract, a large subdivision bounded by Jefferson, West 36th Place, and Raymond and Denker avenues
  • The architect is unknown at this writing, but the horizontal lines of the house are ultra-modern for 1893; many Los Angeles residences were built with vertical Victorian features such as turrets well into the 1900s
  • Howes, then living elsewhere in the neighborhood, purchased the Monmouth Tract parcel from Albertus L. Whitney in October 1892; after completing his project there and moving in, the Los Angeles Times reported on January 13, 1894, that "Mr. and Mrs. Fred C. Howes entertained a large number of friends Tuesday evening at their residence on Adams Street. The event partook of the nature of a housewarming and was a brilliant affair"
  • Exactly three months later, on April 13, 1894, the Los Angeles Herald reported the sale of 1024 West Adams: "Mrs. M. M. Clarke, late of Peoria, Ill., has bought the quaint and pretty new residence recently erected on Adams Street by F. C. Howes...and will make it her home." The price was noted as $13,500. (Howes moved to another of his residential projects at 919 West 28th Street, later the Kappa Delta sorority house at U.S.C. Demolished in 1965, the Kappa Kappa Gamma house is on the site today)
  • Melissa M. Randall Clarke was the widow of prominent Midwestern distiller Charles Sidney Clarke. His death in 1890, that of their daughter Cara two years later, and the ramifications of the involvement of the family business by their sons Charles and Chauncey in the notorious Whiskey Trust, if not the weather, appear to have motivated Melissa to move to Los Angeles, where one could assume a place in local polite society in which, if the check cleared, no one asked where the money came from. Moving into 1024 West Adams were Melissa and one of her three daughters, Mary, who never married, along with Melissa's brother, Willard M. Randall. (Willard was given to lending his endorsement in newspaper advertising for the dental practice of Dr. Adolphus Schiffman, complete with his Adams Street address; over the years before his death in 1920, he would buy property outside of town and identify himself as a rancher)
  • Melissa Clarke died of stomach cancer at what had been renumbered as 1124 West Adams Street on September 24, 1903, age 80. Mary and Uncle Willard remained in the house until they moved to a new one, designed by Frank M. Tyler and still standing at 2938 West 15th Street in Harvard Heights 
  • The Los Angeles Herald reported on October 14, 1906, that a pioneer Pasadenan, real estate developer and investor Charles Legge, had bought 1124 West Adams from Melissa Clarke's estate for $16,500. It is unclear as to whether Legge realized any gain on his investment, given that the Panic of 1907 appears to have come before he was to sell it to Joseph D. Radford
  • Joseph D. Radford, vice-president of the German-American Savings Bank, was a 51-year-old widow when he married Florence ("Flora") Rivers Stowell, a few weeks shy of 50, on October 20, 1908; Flora's first husband had divorced her to marry a 22-year-old houseguest of theirs three years before. Coverage of the Radford marriage in the Herald included the information that the newlyweds would be "at home" at 1124 West Adams after December 1
  • After serving as president of the California Bankers' Association, Radford left the German-American Bank to become vice-president of the Los Angeles Hibernian Savings Bank in 1911. He was also tirelessly civic-minded, serving as the chairman of the Los Angeles Aqueduct and Exposition Park Celebration Commission, which presided over the opening of the waterway on November 5, 1913, and over the dedication of the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art the next day. He was a member of the Playground Commission for nearly eight years, helping to greatly expand recreational opportunities in the city. In 1914, ill health forced his resignation from business life. On November 6, 1917, under the headline COMMISSIONER IS PARALYSIS VICTIM, the Herald reported that Radford had suffered a stroke two days before while vacationing in the mountains at Oak Glen. He was brought home to 1124, unable speak or move, lingering there until April 9, 1918. His obituary in the Herald the next day referred to him as "one of the best known men of California." On April 12, the Times described the funeral, reporting that "Hundreds of friends assembled...at No. 1124 West Adams street to pay their last respects..."
  • Flora Radford stayed on at 1124 West Adams for the next 25 years. Her niece, Ethel Rivers Hopkins, and Ethel's toddler son, Vance, had moved into 1124 with the Radfords in 1915 and would continue the family's presence in the house until 1954
  • Divorce was once kept quiet, especially among upper-middle-class families who lived on Adams Street. Divorcées often listed themselves as widowed in directory listings and claimed to be so to census enumerators. Some replaced their first names with their maiden as a disguise. Ethel Rivers Hopkins did not identify herself as Mrs. Rivers Hopkins, however, but faced Los Angeles society boldly, often mentioned alongside her aunt in descriptions of various luncheons and teas, despite divorce being the least of her social baggage. On March 2, 1912, Ethel had quietly married Hugh Weller Hopkins of Alton, Illinois, at the fledgling, somewhat obscure St. James Episcopal Church, then at Pico and Ardmore. On October 16, Vance Rivers Hopkins was born. Hugh vanished soon after, becoming notorious from coast to coast and for decades as a master forger, with the kindly Radfords taking in the young mother and baby. Wire services reported in December 1923 that, after evading authorities for years and accumulating $200,000 illegally, Hopkins had just been arrested in Duluth and sentenced to the Minnesota state prison at Stillwater for a term of from 1 to 10 years. At the time of his March 1945 arrest in Louisville on five counts of forgery, the wires reported that Hopkins, now 63, "had been in the forgery racket for 35 years and had served four prison sentences totaling 17 years"
  • A building permit for a new garage was issued to Flora Radford by the Department of Buildings on June 22, 1923
  • 1124 West Adams was burglarized on November 3, 1924
  • A building permit for the addition of a 16-by-35-foot sewing room was issued to Flora Radford by the Department of Building and Safety on November 9, 1934
  • Flora Radford died at 1124 West Adams Boulevard on June 25, 1943, age 84
  • Ethel Hopkins would remain at 1124 West Adams until moving around the corner to her late brother Ernest Bedford Rivers Jr.'s house at 2640 Monmouth Avenue in 1954, with 1124 being sold, per Department of Building and Safety records, to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Vance Hopkins, apparently having been married, having had a daughter, and having been divorced, returned to live at 1124 after World War II. Vance, as had his mother, had for most of the family's presence in the house maintained his address on voting rolls as 1124 West Adams; an exception was 1942, when he was listed as a rancher in Oak Grove. Vance would still be listed on voter rolls at 1124, curiously if in error, as late as 1956
  • Ethel Rivers Hopkins died in San Bernardino County on April 23, 1960, age 72; Vance, who married again in 1961, died in San Diego on December 6, 1968, age 56
  • A building permit was issued by the Department of Building and Safety to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles on January 18, 1955, to have a new heating system installed at 1124, among other work. A permit was issued on the same day to the Archdiocese for work to be done on the house next door at 1100 West Adams Boulevard; Lots 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, and 13 of the Monmouth Tract were being combined, per permit information, as one parcel under the name of the Order of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, Inc. By 1966, the dwelling at 1124 West Adams was no longer adequate for the housing requirement of the order. On November 15, 1966, a permit was issued for the construction of a new three-story nuns' residence designed by Eduardo J. Samaniego & Associates on its site
  • On January 16, 1967, the Department of Building and Safety issued a permit to the Order of the Company of Mary, Our Lady, to demolish the 73-year-old Howes/Clarke/Radford/Hopkins house

Perhaps ambitious for a lavish life of Sargent beauty and orderliness to keep her
ex-husband emotionally at bay, Ethel Rivers Hopkins and her son Vance
sat for the Los Angeles painter John Hubbard Rich in 1917.

Illustrations: Private Collection; Artnet