1363 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built circa 1904 straddling Lots 11 and 12 in Block 3 of the Urmston Tract; the property would later include Lot 18, resulting in an L-shaped parcel with 100 feet of Adams Street frontage and reaching 236 feet back to West 25th Street
  • The builder of the house appears to have been real estate operator and builder Anthony E. Halsey; while he is listed as living at 1363 West Adams in the 1905 city directory, in the lag time before the book's printing it was sold it to another investor, Mary B. Hook, who lived across the street at 1386 West Adams
  • The Los Angeles Herald of October 16, 1904, reported that Mary B. Hook was making alteration to the house, which was initially numbered 1375 West Adams
  • Mary B. Hook held a number of commercial as well as residential properties, many of the latter of which were rented. The first tenant of 1363 West Adams was retired Dubuque banker Monroe R. Amsden. Virginia Clarke Keely, a divorcée with a five-year-old son, moved in in 1908; in April 1909, she married Los Angeles real estate man Russell McDonnell Taylor. The Taylors would soon be building their grand 11 Berkeley Square, which they moved into during the summer of 1911
  • Manufacturers' agent Sidney I. Wailes was among the renters of 1363 until Mary B. Hook's son Barbee and his second wife took possession. Barbee Hook, Mary Hook's troubled son by her first husband who had been adopted by her second, streetcar developer William S. Hook, had killed a young woman with his car on Downey Avenue in 1905—his mother threw cash at the victim's family—and then, in December 1907, he was involved in one accident in which a 13-year-old boy was run down and another when he was arrested for speeding. Barbee was sued over business matters; the woman he married in Albuquerque on May 18, 1910, left him after a few months. Barbee remarried in 1913, and, perhaps to lead a more sober life, he and his wife became desert rustics, raising fruit on an 80-acre spread near Victorville—albeit rustics with a large house in the city on what in the 1910s was still holding its own as one of the grandest boulevards in town
  • Five years began to make a difference in the stretches of Adams Street that lay close to major north-south arterials such as Vermont Avenue. Automobiles were becoming increasingly roadworthy and, of course, exploding in popularity. Key thoroughfares would be widened, particularly those with rail transit running along them, and show signs of turning commercial, something William and Mary Hook could perhaps not have anticipated when they built 1386 in 1901, although their sale of that house to William H. Holliday in 1912 was prescient. While in early 1914 the south side of the intersection of Adams and Vermont was graced by the Hook house and the towering Gothic twin steeples of St. Agnes Catholic Church, dedicated in November 1907, the north-side corner lots were still unimproved, perhaps weedy and—a scourge of the era—home to large billboards to catch the eyes of motorists and streetcar passengers. Then, in April 1914, the Wilshire Oil Company built a filling station on the northwest corner; two years later there was a Standard outlet on the northeast 
  • The Hooks did not abandon the neighborhood centering on the Adams-Vermont intersection immediately; it wasn't until after the second gas station went in that they decided to reorganize their city residences. Barbee and Imogene spent most of their time out of town, either on their ranch at Victorville or at the Hook country house in Glendora, imaginatively named "The Oaks"
  • After leaving 1386 West Adams in 1912, Mary Hook moved to the house she had built on that property facing Menlo Avenue, number 2617. By 1920, she was listed at the Janvier house at 2155 West Adams, which her son William Hook Jr. had just bought
  • From 1919 into 1920, the Hooks rented 1363 West Adams to real estate man Frank E. Payne, who would be returning to the house later in the decade
  • After the Paynes' departure, Mary Hook, despite the smell of petroleum wafting over from the corner, moved back to 1363, which she'd bought as rental property in 1904 and which had become Barbee's city residence. William Hook Jr. would soon be making a property deal with William Andrews Clark Jr. that would result in his jacking up 2055 West Adams and moving it a block east to become 2055. By 1925, Mary had abandoned old West Adams for a Wilshire district house at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Van Ness Avenue

With the largest wooden houses of the University Park neighborhood of the Adams District having
become maintenance headaches for their earlier single-family owners, who were moving on
to newer suburbs to the north and west, those along once-patrician Adams and West
28th streets in particular began to house U.S.C. fraternities and sororities
during the 1920s; fire escapes were added and Blue Book
holdouts complained of raucous parties. Zeta Beta
Tau's occupancy of 1363 West Adams
was illustrated in U.S.C.'s 1924
El Rodeo annual.

  • The Hooks appear to have retained 1363 West Adams as rental property; from 1923 to 1925, U.S.C.'s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity was in residence
  • Frank E. Payne and his family returned to rent 1363 West Adams by early 1928. Their $70 monthly rent was the equivalent of $1,060 today; this seems a bargain considering the size of the house, the façade of which belies its square footage, but then there were those filling stations in close proximity. Payne was still listed at the address in the 1939 city directory
  • The Hook family appears to have sold 1363 West Adams by early 1940. In the 1940 Federal census enumerated on April 27, public-school teacher Anthony Cicero is listed as the owner. Cicero placed a value of $7,000 on the building—$129,000 today—reflecting his own conservative estimate but also the fact that the neighborhood had deteriorated substantially, at least in terms of its residential appeal, since 1931, when a large but attractive store building owned by Cecil B. De Mille went up across what had by then been designated Adams Boulevard in an upgrade after the proposals in the city's Major Traffic Street Plan published in May 1924
  • In 1941, the Standard Oil station next door to 1363 West Adams was undergoing renovations; Anthony Cicero took advantage of the situation by purchasing two of the station's metal structures and adding them to his property. On April 24, he was issued a permit by the Department of Building and Safety to relocate the station office and convert it into a childrens' playroom; on June 9, a permit authorized the move of the station's grease-rack canopy to be used as automobile storage at 1363

Advertisements for Anthony and Rosa Cicero's restaurant appeared in the Times and in other local  
papers during its brief run; its straightforward "Deluxe Dinner House" tagline appeared on 
July 27, 1946, to be replaced with a refined version of the ad by December 31.

  • Anthony Cicero and his wife Rosa appear to have rented rooms in the house during World War II. The obvious thing to do, once the war was over, was to convert 1363 itself to business use. In the summer of 1946, Cicero's, a "Deluxe Dinner House," opened at 1363 West Adams. By the end of the year, the Ciceros had come up with the tag line "Fashions in Finer Food." A French twist was tried before long, with Cicero's morphing into the Chateau Restaurant. Then, in September 1949, an auction was held to dispose of the Chateau's kitchen equipment and furnishings. Afterward, Anthony Cicero offered the premises as a meeting venue; a beauty parlor was in operation at 1363 in the early '50s. On March 28, 1952, Cicero was issued a permit to convert the first floor of the house into a dance studio and nursery school
  • On June 24, 1954, the Department of Building and Safety issued Anthony Cicero a permit to convert the house into a 14-unit apartment building

Illustrations: Private Collection; USCDL; LAT