2025 West Adams Boulevard


  • Completed in 1912 on a parcel acquired by hardware and mining executive William Bayly from real estate investor Lee Allen Phillips of nearby Berkeley Square; Phillips had acquired holdings of Effie Neustadt, who had recently completed 2445 South Western Avenue next door on a lot she had retained. Bayly would be moving from the house he built in 1899 at 10 Chester Place
  • Architect: J. Martyn Haenke
  • The Department of Buildings issued Bayly a permit for a 10-room house at 2025 West Adams on November 3, 1911; a permit for its garage was not issued until August 17, 1912
  • Once construction of the house was underway, the Baylys left Los Angeles on an extended trip that included travel through Egypt and Turkey; they were due back in the U.S. by early summer
  • The Baylys remained at 2025 West Adams until late 1922 or early 1923
  • 2025 West Adams was acquired by widowed attorney James Wiseman Macdonald by early 1923; the noted Catholic layman was moving from 2625 South Figueroa Street. On June 6, 1923, the Department of Buildings issued Macdonald an alteration permit to expand the library and a bedroom above it. The architect was Albert C. Martin
  • On March 22, 1927, what is now called the Department of Building and Safety issued a permit to Macdonald for the addition of a billiard room at the northeast corner of the house; Macdonald himself is noted on the document as the architect and contractor
  • Macdonald's son Allan, also an attorney, married Genevieve Maier of 3820 West Adams in December 1930; on March 17, 1932, he died at the age of 27 in Santa Barbara "after an illness of two months"
  • Having moved to Hancock Park after April 1940, J. Wiseman Macdonald died at St. Vincent's Hospital on November 21, 1942
  • In October 1944, 2025 West Adams was acquired by the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, the ancient order of caregivers who have to this day occupied the property, if not the old house, along with much of the square block. The order proceeded to convert the house into a residence for the Brothers
  • On January 4, 1945, an alteration permit was issued to the order by the Department of Building and Safety for the addition of a 20-by-52-foot east-side wing to include seven bedrooms and office space; as had J. Wiseman Macdonald for his additions to the house in 1923, the Brothers employed as architect Albert C. Martin, whose firm now included his two sons as associates 
  • Under the address 2035 West Adams Boulevard, a demolition permit for the house was issued to the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God by the Department of Building and Safety on October 19, 1973
  • The story of William Bayly and his family presence in West Adams appears below

The rare image of 2025 West Adams Boulevard above dates from after
the architectural integration of a large dormitory into the east side of the house

in 1945; the new wing is just behind the camera in the image below.


William Bayly spent his entire life west of the Mississippi. Born in the Missouri River town of Lexington on February 28, 1855, and raised in St. Louis, he left school at 16 to become one of the men who was a match for the mountains of the west, as Irving Stone would have put it. Stopping first in southern Colorado, Bayly became associated in the hardware business with many of the state's pioneers, including Alva Adams (who would go on to serve three nonconsecutive terms as governor), the Van Gieson family—émigrés from New Jersey and owners of a lixiviation works servicing the burgeoning mining industry—and Oliver Perry Posey, a miner who would eventually build what would become better known as the Doheny house in Los Angeles's Chester Place. Bayly's ties to the Van Giesons and Posey would thicken when, as reported in the Del Norte, Colorado, San Juan Prospector, he married 18-year-old Eva Houghton there on December 31, 1878—the bride was a first cousin of Mrs. Posey, nèe Sara Van Gieson. By then, the young man once known as Billy Bayly, hardware merchant, was the dignified William Bayly, a man prosperous enough at the age of 23 to take his bride on a honeymoon to St. Louis, Chicago, and New York. During the next 15 years, as industrial mining in Colorado reached its fever pitch, the profits of extraction made Bayly and his confrères and family not merely prosperous but extremely rich. The big city of Denver called, if not for long. By the mid 1890s, snowless Southern California was calling louder; after winter sojourns in Los Angeles, the Baylys and Poseys became hooked and began to formulate domestic plans to henceforth look to Colorado merely for further business opportunities and dividend checks. The men had conquered the West; if they ever desired to see snow again, they could see it atop the San Gabriels from the north windows of warm houses the families would build next to one another in 1899 in just-opened Chester Place. Edward Doheny and his ambitious former telephone operator of a wife, Estelle, had not quite yet crashed the enclave's lovely gates with their bankroll of more recent derivation.

The Poseys appear to have made the first moves toward permanent residence in Los Angeles by renting 2530 South Figueroa Streetat the northeast corner of Adams, just east of Chester Place. From there, Sara Posey, an ebullient, socially ambitious woman—possibly given to spending more of her husband's large income than was actually wise—began to look for a building lot for her florid dream of a house. Though still based in Denver, the Baylys were transitioning to Los Angeles, having taken for the time being the John Wigmore house at 949 West Adams; Eva Bayly, apparently under the benevolent sway of her by all accounts formidable older cousin, wanted to build something permanent herself, having spent years moving all over southern Colorado and from hotel to hotel in Denver. Opportunity would soon present itself to the ladies when Judge Charles Silent decided to subdivide his estate behind handsome and still-extant stone-and-iron gates on fast-developing Adams Street; Silent was calling his tract Chester Place after his beloved and ill-fated teenage son. On February 16, 1899, the Los Angeles Herald reported that Judge Silent had sold two large lots in his tract to Sara Posey, who already had in hand plans from architects Theodore A. Eisen and Sumner P. Hunt for an extravagant $40,000 house; reported in the same article was Silent's sale of Lots 7, 8, and 9 of the Chester Place Tract to William Bayly. While it is widely written that Eisen & Hunt designed the Bayly house as well as that of the Poseys, the Herald further reported, more accurately, that "Architect Seymour Locke is now preparing plans...for the residence which Mr. Bayly intends having erected" in Chester Place.

The Poseys would be persuaded to leave their new house within three years of buying its Chester Place parcel; there were rumors of Oliver having overextended himself, which coincided with Edward Doheny's deep need to impress. It was Mr. Doheny and not his wife who was by all accounts determined to have the castle-like 8 Chester Place as a statement of his success; Estelle Doheny thought it dark and forbidding. He won out over her objections and made the Poseys an offer they couldn't refuse; the Dohenys took possession on November 1, 1901; per the Herald, their $125,000 check included "all but a few of the personal furnishings that have served to make the home one of the beauty spots of Los Angeles." The Poseys would never live in so extravagant a house as #8 again; while Sara boasted that she was going to build another palace at the northeast corner of Adams and Figueroa—the Dohenys would alter that dream as well, eventually building St. Vincent de Paul Church there instead—the Poseys rented the Victorian at 421 West Adams for a winter and then moved to another in a declining residential neighborhood northward on Figueroa toward the encroaching business district. By 1920, they were renting a house in Pasadena, he described in census records of that year as a mining promoter and she as the manager of an "Oriental curio shop."

The Baylys would stay put in Chester Place for a decade. Once the former telephone operator had settled into her house next door, she found she quite liked the idea of controlling her environment down to the last rosebud, even on bushes in front of other people's houses in the neighborhood. Eventually she would buy up every other residence in Chester Place, and more, installing loyalists as renters in them. William and Eva Bayly were still at #10 in May 1910; while they may have simply wanted a newer house in a newer neighborhood and may have tolerated the whims of Mrs. Doheny well enough, they decided to leave once an offer came in from the their acquisitive neighbors, who would before long install their associate Dr. Norman Bridge for a time, with Edward Doheny Jr. and his family then taking up residence. By the fall of 1911, the Baylys were planning a new house in an ungated neighborhood; 2025 West Adams would be be ready for them by late 1912. After leaving the house 10 years later, their next Los Angeles address was a house at 325 South Ardmore Avenue before moving on to apartment living. Eva died in the city on August 2, 1936, at 75; William was 91 when he died there on May 27, 1946.

Other members of the Bayly family who migrated to Los Angeles along with William and Eva and the Poseys also lived in West Adams during its fashionable years, and beyond, a few on Adams itself. William's younger brother, George, lived early in the century at 1007 West Adams before building on West 28th Street in 1905; George's son Harold kept the presence up in the last fashionable section of the declining boulevard—anchored by Berkeley Square—when, in the mid '30s, he acquired 2055 West Adams next door to the house his Uncle William had left years before. 

During the change of ownership of 2025 West Adams from
William Bayly to J. Wiseman Macdonald, its front door made a
cameo appearance in the Snub Pollard short Sold at Auction, directed
by Charley Chase and released on May 27, 1923. The stills seen above
are from a film currently available only in grainy prints. As it neared
completion, a rendering of the house was featured in the real
estate pages of Los Angeles Times on December 17, 1911.

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAPL; Notables of the SouthwestSt. John of God;