2193 West Adams Street


Only a fragment of photographic evidence has thus far been found of a peripatetic and short-lived house that once sat on what are now the grounds of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. Numbered as 2193 West Adams Street, it had arrived there in 1903 from a lot two blocks to the east and across Adams, where it was built facing north as 2076 West Adams in 1896. Over the years there developed in the neighborhood just west of the intersection of Adams and Western somewhat of a game of musical houses as the neighborhood altered itself to retain its exclusivity into the 1930s.

Jane Ball Ridgway was one of a number of active female real estate investors in Los Angeles around the turn of the 20th century, of which there were more than one might think. After being widowed in 1889, she moved west from Cincinnati with her two daughters and what was apparently enough capital with which to get started wheeling and dealing. She did well enough—and was astute and competitive enough—to acquire for her own use a large parcel out toward the far edge of the new Western Addition beyond Hoover Street that was annexed to the city on April 2, 1896. On June 5 of that year, the Los Angeles Herald reported that Mrs. Ridgway had just been issued a permit to build a two-story dwelling at 2076 West Adams Street. The project went quickly, the Herald reporting on July 29 that Jane and her sister, Kate Ball Taylor, also a widow, had just moved into their "handsome new home" there. While not one of the grander houses on the new extension of Adams, it would have had the spectacular southerly views that the steep southward slope off the street beyond Manhattan Place afforded. The affluent of Los Angeles quickly discovered the topographic advantages of westerly Adams Street and began to acquire what were not mere suburban lots but rather estate-size parcels. It was here especially that Jane Ridgway might be seen as a very clever businesswoman, one with foresight. After her sister died at 2076 on July 31, 1902, and having enjoyed the view for six years, it was time to rethink her domestic arrangements. Enter uber businessman Daniel Murphy, frequently if debatably called (as the Los Angeles Times did in 1998) "the city's richest and most powerful man." Murphy was rich indeed, and although deeply religious and notably philanthropic, he did not himself desire to live humbly. Only a palace (and papal titles) would do. To that end, the Herald reported on May 31, 1903, that he had reached a deal with Jane Ridgway for her Adams Street property, where his Italian Renaissance–style palazzo, also numbered 2076, would replace the original house within a few years. The Herald indicated that Murphy intended to move Jane's 1896 residence to make room for the new 2076 on the old house's site at the high street-end of the 589-foot-deep lot, where the optimum southerly views were available. As the Ridgway-Murphy deal came together—it seems there was some confusion in newspaper reportage with other of Jane's real estate projects around the same time—the original 2076 would be trucked 1,000 feet west to Lot 20 of Block 2 of the Kinney Heights Tract, turned 180 degrees, and placed on a new foundation for its continued use as the Ridgway residence.

Jane Ridgway and her daughters remained at 2193 West Adams until the next good deal came up, which did within a few years when fellow real estate operator Oscar Eugene Farish expressed an interest in the house. Farish was a partner in Mines & Farish, one of the most prominent property businesses in the city; he and his wife, Alice, had been renting 2715 Wilshire Boulevard for several years and were looking for a place of their own. The Herald of March 17, 1907, reported the recent sale of 2193 to the Farishes for $15,000, with the Ridgways then moving to Jane's recently completed project at 2265 West 23rd Street.

It was after Alice Farish died at 2193 at the age of 41 on August 30, 1914, that her husband became amenable to the offers of William Andrews Clark Jr. to buy the lot containing 2193 to expand his holdings from his house next door at 2205 West Adams. Apparently reaching a deal with Clark to deliver the lot vacant, Farish organized the demolition of 2193, the Department of Buildings issuing him a permit for the job on September 7, 1915; he then moved to Sunset Place near his former Wilshire Boulevard residence. Jane Ridgway had died on February 1 of that year; Eugene Farish died on December 12, 1917.

Seen above peeking over the front porch of 2205—which was at the northeast corner of Cimarron Street—2076/2193 West Adams had stood for less than 20 years. It should be noted that we have referred to the house here as being on West Adams Street; while there were references before World War I to the thoroughfare as a boulevard, its official designation would not be adopted until the mid 1920s when traffic planners began widening selected east-west streets and upping their importance to attract motorists across a broader range of Pacificward routes.

Illustration: Private Collection