1200 West Adams Boulevard


  • Commissioned in 1900 by Montana hotelier and miner Frank King Wilson on Lots 23, 24, and 25 of the Nies Tract. On October 11, 1900, the Los Angeles Herald reported that a building permit for a frame dwelling and barn had just been issued to Wilson; no architect was specified. The house is seen above in a southwesterly view from the corner of Adams Street and Magnolia Avenue, with the latter running at the bottom left of the frame
  • Frank and Gem Wilson had arrived in Los Angeles from Butte with her 18-year-old sister, Angel V. Miles, in 1899, stopping first at 913 South Union Avenue. Wilson maintained his business ties in Butte, where he was in partnership with his brother Hugh in the Butte Hotel. It appears that 1200 West Adams was intended primarily as a winter residence. The sisters entertained only occasionally, but when they did, it was in the form of elaborate hearts parties for as many as 68 ladies. When he was in town on a tour, their brother, William Miles, an actor, stayed at 1200
  • On December 31, 1907, the Herald reported that the Wilsons and Angel would be wintering at the Hotel Lankershim on Broadway; the well-known turfman Richard F. Carman, an intimate of Lucky Baldwin, had recently sold his Long Island estate and was moving west, initially renting 1200 for the first season of Baldwin's Santa Anita Park, which had opened on December 7. During his stay, Carman's "well trimmed black poodle" went missing. (Carman's sporting life was well chronicled over the decades, especially after his horse Meridian won the 1911 Kentucky Derby. He death on March 30, 1937, was reported in papers across the country; the Los Angeles Times provided more detail than most, reporting that he died in poverty at a sanitarium facility of the county hospital in Bell. "He had been ill for some months previously from effects of blood poisoning which developed from a blister on his foot caused by a pebble that got in his shoe as he cheered home a favorite at the...Santa Anita race course")
  • All was not well when the Wilsons moved back to 1200 West Adams from the Lankershim. On March 12, 1909, Gem filed for divorce. The day after she received her decree on June 24, the Times described Mrs. Wilson as having testified in court that the couple's first major argument came while they were living in Denver during their first year of marriage when she insisted that her husband take a bath "oftener than he was desirous of doing." She claimed he was unfaithful, and a violent drunk; her doctor and her sister testified to "numerous acts of brutality." Wilson was said to have threatened to kill his wife over her extravagance, on one occasion telling her that "the next time any one called to assist her it would be an undertaker and not a doctor." Mrs. Wilson, who henceforth styled herself as Mrs. Gem E. M. Wilson, got the house at 1200 West Adams. The Herald reported that she also received interest in half of Frank's other holdings, which included mining property and real estate in Butte, Los Angeles, and Ocean Park. Mrs. Wilson, was, however, done with the Adams Street house. She would soon be moving to an apartment near Westlake Park; her sister would be marrying Los Angeles banker Horace B. King—apparently no relation to the erstwhile Mr. Wilson—in Honolulu in July 1910

As seen in the Los Angeles Express, December 5, 1903

  • Calling it "one of the most beautiful and sightly homes in Los Angeles,"  the Herald reported on February 13, 1910, that Mrs. Gem E. M. Wilson had sold 1200 West Adams to manufacturer James C. Eberhart Jr. of Mishawaka, Indiana, as a winter home. Eberhart's stay was short. In late 1911, 1200 West Adams was purchased by German-Mexican miner, miller, and banker Miguel F. Latz, who, noticing the unrest that would lead to the Mexican Revolution, had bought 2721 Wilshire Boulevard in 1909 as a foothold in the U.S. 
  • Born Jacob Michael Faerber in Germany in 1844, Miguel Latz had come to the United States in time to enlist in the Union Army to fight for four years in the Civil War, after which began a life of controversy. Said to have opened a store in the mountains of southern Colorado after the war and then in 1874 to have killed a man, he was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. He managed an escape to Mexico; settling in Magdalena in Sonora, he soon became rich as the owner with his younger brother Arnold Faerber of the Terrenate Flour Mills. Newly derived capital allowed him to delve into banking and mining. By now having dropped Jacob and exchanged Michael for Miguel and Faerber for Latz and become a Mexican citizen, he married Ana Davila of Sonora in 1877 and settled into wheeling and dealing and prospecting that would pay off until the Mexican Revolution. Apparently having secured various pardons expunging his culpability in the Colorado murder, Latz managed to buy his first house in Los Angeles. Its Mission style of architecture and glamorous location on emerging Wilshire Boulevard perhaps were attractions to him, though it is unclear as to whether his family ever occupied it. Plans for the enormous new Bryson Apartments on the same block—it would open in January 1913—may have soured Latz on Wilshire, despite the boulevard's still-viable single-family character continuing to extend westward. The Latzes at any rate found new architectural allure on still safe-and-sound and much more settled West Adams Street
  • On June 4, 1912, the Department of Buildings issued Latz a permit to add to the property a two-room dwelling designed by architect Elimor Meinardus, one described as being in the plastered Mission style to complement the main house and connected to it by an arbor; it became the chauffeur's quarters. Later that year, the trade journal Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer reported that Latz was being sued by various building suppliers for unpaid bills. This did not stop Latz's work on the house; in addition to other renovations being done over the next few years, a greenhouse was added in 1914
  • Money transfers would come to be the least of Miguel Latz's troubles; on July 18, 1918, he was arrested at 1200 West Adams on charges of violating a proclamation issued by President Wilson regulating the conduct of registered German aliens, despite being a naturalized Mexican. "When arrested he collapsed from a heart attack," the Times included in its report the next day. He was taken to jail. (Despite being a native of Mexico, Mrs. Latz was arrested for having neglected to register as an alien—it seems that the word "enemy" appeared only on registration forms filled out by men—but released after being given the opportunity to do so.) A search of the house by authorities with a warrant turned up a large cache of correspondence in German, some with officials of the German consular service. Also reportedly found was a German flag and "a handsomely framed picture of the Kaiser." The specific charge against Latz was that he was keeping a gun and ammunition at his place of residence, a violation of the Wilson proclamation. Latz was soon released on bond; at the end of the war in November, Wilson declared that the proclamation affecting Latz was to be annulled as of Christmas Day
  • For the time being, Latz felt well enough to resume making alterations to 1200 West Adams. On May 10, 1919, the Department of Buildings issued a permit to add a second story to a wing of the house; architects John P. Krempel and Walter E. Erkes designed it
  • Miguel Latz, née Jacob Michael Faerber, died of heart trouble at 1200 West Adams Street on October 4, 1920, age 76. His November 1917 will, amended five months later, left the bulk of his estate to Ana and his brother. Bequests were also made to the Federation of Jewish Charities of Los Angeles, the Kaspare Cohn and German hospitals, the Hebrew Sheltering and Home of Aged, and the Jewish Orphans' Home in Huntington Park
  • Ana Davila de Latz and her younger sister, Lucina Davila—who had been living with the Latzes since 1912—continued on at 1200 West Adams along with Arnold Faerber. Ownership indicated on alteration permits issued during the 1920s varied between Mrs. Latz and Arnold; in 1922, Krempel & Erkes were called in to integrate an elevator into the design of he house. The same firm was hired in 1929 to add a room to the garage
  • The sisters and Arnold Faerber would remain at 1200 West Adams until their deaths. Arnold died at 81 on November 28, 1935, followed by Ana on June 21, 1937; she was between the ages of 84 and 87. Lucina inherited the house, remaining there along with various servants until she died on December 5, 1944, age 81
  • Almost every other house along West Adams Boulevard—which was upgraded in status, in vain, it seems, from "Street" in the 1920s—had become a multi-unit dwelling by the time the last of the Latzes left 1200. It too would be carved into apartments, four in its case, with more to come on its lot. As the site evolved, the rear building that had been added in 1912 was moved down to Wilmington, where it sits today at 1014 East Colon Street, complete with the octagonal front bay that mimics features of the original main house. The Department of Building and Safety issued a permit for its transfer on April 29, 1953. In its former place alongside the west property line would be built a two-story, 12-unit apartment house that would stretch from the front of the parcel still containing the house back to the rear line. A permit had been issued for it as 1208 West Adams on March 18. On March 11, 1963, a permit was issued for the expansion of 1208 with the addition of a separate two-story, 26-unit building covering the footprint of the 1900 house. The addition was not built in this form
  • On January 19, 1965, the Department of Building and Safety issued a demolition permit for the 65-five-year-old house at 1200 West Adams Boulevard. On July 21, a permit was issued for 1204 West Adams, a proposal for a smaller, 16-unit apartment building annex to 1208 that would replace the old dwelling. Its certificate of occupancy was issued on May 23, 1966; both it and the 1953 building still stand today

The garage/dwelling added to the rear westerly side of 1200 West Adams Street in 1912 was relocated
to 1014 East Colon Street in Wilmington in 1953, not far from the well-known Banning house. Its
original design was described as complementing the main house; the octagonal bay and bit
of tiling suggest the origins of 1014 East Colon. (The fabled Banning family's house
in town was at 240 West Adams Boulevard; it coincidentally is not dissimilar
in massing and materials and oblique siting to 1200 West Adams.)

Illustrations: Private Collection; Los Angeles Express