1325 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1899 by lumber executive Herman H. Kerckhoff on Lots 4 and 5, block 3, of the Urmston Tract. The parcel would come to include 30 feet of Lot 25 as well
  • Architects: Morgan & Walls (Octavius Morgan and John A. Walls)
  • Herman Kerckhoff was the youngest son of George Kerckhoff, whose family, after arrival in Los Angeles from Indiana in 1878, became heavily engaged in lumber and real estate just as California was on the verge of its fabled Boom of the '80s. Involvement in public utilities and salt and gypsum mining would come in due course. Herman, who worked at the Kerckhoff-Cuzner Mill and Lumber Company, is reported to have purchased his Adams Street building lot in 1895; hiring the architectural firm headed by Octavius Morgan, an old friend and business partner of his father, he commissioned a Shingle Style house that was under construction by the fall of 1899
  • After their wedding at the original Hotel Rosslyn on October 4, 1899, and an eight-week honeymoon in the east, Herman Kerckhoff and the former Anne Wethern returned to the hotel to stay while awaiting the completion of 1325. On January 24, 1900, the Los Angeles Herald reported that the couple had just moved into their new house. Their son Stephens—named for his great uncle, the rancher and real estate man Daniel G. Stephens, who raised Mrs. Kerckhoff—was born on October 24, 1901; Herman Jr. arrived on September 5, 1905 
  • On June 29, 1905, the Department of Buildings issued Kerckhoff a permit to add an 18-by-13-foot, two-story wing to the rear of the house; Morgan & Walls was the architect
  • On February 10, 1922, the Department of Buildings issued Kerckhoff a permit to make further changes, adding a sleeping porch, two baths, a dressing room, and a closet. Morgan Walls & Morgan—Octavius Morgan Jr. had since joined the firm—were again the architects. (Octavius Morgan Sr. died in Los Angeles seven weeks after the permit was issued)
  • Among other family members in residence at 1325 during the early 1920s was 22-year-old Stephens and a 19-year-old Pasadenan, née Marcia Steward, with whom he had eloped to San Diego and married on April 28, 1923; a more elaborate June wedding had been planned. Marcia and Stephens—to whom such a confusing name cannot have been helpful any more than it is to researchers—moved to Beverly Hills after a short stay with his parents, then to Altadena; after society-page coverage of the couple's rounds, including a splashy party they hosted on Halloween in 1925 at the glamorous Midwick Country Club, there ensued sad tales of the hapless Stephens and his wives and actress girlfriends and a losing battle with the bottle, splashed across the broadsheets as well as the tabloids in the journalistic custom of the day. There was the alleged attempted suicide by Marcia in December 1925 (denied, of course, by the family, which demanded a retraction from the Times); there was the 30-day jail sentence Stephens received in June 1926 for drunk driving, which followed a January incident in which he drove his car into a parked one. (The judge was quoted in the Times as saying, "It has been represented to me [apparently by Kerckhoff's attorneys] that the defendant is entitled to extra consideration because of the prominence of his family.... The name of Kerckhoff has always stood for good things in Southern California, but if this defendant cannot protect that good name, this court cannot be expected to do so.") Stephens and Marcia divorced sometime around the time dancer Ruth Wickham sued him for $50,250, in June 1929, claiming that her career had been hurt after Kerckhoff attacked her. He moved back to 1325 for a brief period, apparently (and somewhat terrifyingly) now pursuing a career as an aviator; he then spent a year or two living in New York. On June 17, 1935, he married actress Peggy Sherwood in Tijuana; in December, according to Variety, he filed for divorce. Before an annulment due to questions of the legitimacy of the Mexican marriage came down the next year, and around the time Peggy filed suit against Stephens's parents and brother for $50,000 for causing their separation (later dropped), Stephens appeared, curiously, on the manifest of the U. S. Grant, a troopship that arrived in San Francisco from Manila on June 2, 1936, listed alone below a group of soldiers as an "indigent American." There were more drunk driving charges that year; in May 1937, he was sentenced to a one-year term in the county jail after he seriously injured two women after ignoring a red signal at Wilshire and Alexandria on January 20 (ironically, the jail was on land his great-uncle and namesake had sold to the county in 1883). Stephens married again in 1939; within a year, the former Miss Marian Eberhardt was the next former Mrs. Kerckhoff and by February 16, 1940, she had a new husband. A fourth Mrs. Kerckhoff appears to have soon been in the offing, her name, Alys, somewhat confusing in that Herman Kerckhoff Jr.'s wife was Alice. It is not known if this fourth union lasted until Stephens died on January 22, 1967, at the age of 65
  • Meanwhile, Herman and Anne Kerckhoff, finally, if in baby steps, giving into the drastic fraying of the old neighborhood, moved from 1315 to an apartment two and a half blocks east at 2619 West Adams Gardens in 1935 before settling in San Marino after 1940. Mrs. Kerckhoff kept the old house, however; having long and tirelessly taken up the interest of her aunt, Elmira Stephens, in children—Mrs. Stephens had founded the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society in 1880—she turned 1315 over to the Child Guidance Clinic by late 1935. The clinic aided children with behavioral issues and their families; although Mrs. Kerckhoff reportedly sold 1315 in 1949, the clinic remained there until October 1953, a year before its benefactress died at St. Vincent's Hospital on October 10, 1954, age 78. Herman had died on April 1, 1953. He was 86
  • Much to the benefit of the preservation-minded, astonishing little has been done since the Kerckhoff family sold 1315 West Adams. That its original shingling has been preserved for 119 years is just one of its remarkable aspects. After an exhaustively researched submission to the City Council, the house was declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural monument #1043 on October 9, 2013. The illustrated submission, which describes in great detail the structure and its inhabitants, is available for reading here

A closeup of 1315 West Adams reveals its details; the Shingle Style was unusal on the West Coast.
Among the business endeavors of Herman Kerckhoff was the Hipolito Manufacturing Company,
which he acquired in 1900. Renamed the Hipolito Screen & Sash Company, he assumed
its presidency. One wonders if the company may have been a supplier for the
contractor of 1315 and if its products are still serving as its glazing.

Illustrations: Private Collection