3300 West Adams Boulevard


  • Completed in 1906 on part of Block 60 of the South Arlington Tract for Frank J. Walker, at the time the president of the Fire-Pulp Plaster Company, a building-materials firm 
  • Architect: Charles F. Whittlesey
  • Texas native Frank J. Walker and his Louisiana-born wife, née Lucy Washington, were also residents of Duarte, where he had extensive orange groves. In addition, they invested in Los Angeles real estate, developing a number of residential properties southwest of downtown. The largest of these was 2500 West Adams, which became 3300 after annexation-related realignments took effect circa 1912; the Walkers would live only briefly in the house before receiving an offer they couldn't refuse from Granville H. Hayes, who had recently hit it big in the mines of Goldfield, Nevada. On April 21, 1907, the Los Angeles Herald described the purchase: "The lot has a frontage of 175 feet and a depth of 500 feet, the grounds surrounding the house being highly improved with lawns, trees, flowers and ornamental shrubbery. The house is large, containing twenty-eight rooms, and extending along nearly the entire front of the lot. It was completed about a year ago, two years having been required for its construction." (On June 19, 1906, the Herald had reported real estate developer George Winter's purchase of a 200-by-500-foot lot next door, at what would initially be addressed as 2550 West Adams Street, later renumbered 3320. The width of Winter's lot as finally agreed upon would actually be 175 feet, with an easterly 25-foot strip becoming part of 2500/3300)

A view of the recently completed Walker house appeared in The Architect and Engineer of California
in its issue of March 1908, after its sale to Granville Hayes. It was featured as an illustration of
an article therein by Charles F. Whittlesey titled "Reinforced Concrete Construction—Why
I Believe in it." Also pictured was Elden P. Bryan's house in Westmoreland Place.

  • Granville Hayden Hayes was born in 1857 in what is today Glenn County in the Sacramento Valley; by stages he was a laborer, a clerk, and a bookkeeper, by the early '90s becoming a cattleman near the Oregon border before turning to prospecting. He moved still farther north in 1898, settling with his 18-years-younger wife Frances in Victoria, B.C., where the couple started a family. Hayes pursued mining interests in British Columbia, where he remained for some years, including, per small items buried in The San Francisco Call and Oakland Tribune, a two-year prison sentence handed down on May 8, 1903, for swindling a man out of $25,000. Once sprung (if he did indeed serve his time in jail), Hayes—a man who never looked back—soon sniffed out the under-performing Mohawk Number Two mine in Goldfield, 75 miles north of Death Valley, and, partnering with Mervin J. Monnette, secured a lease on it on September 1, 1905. Before long Hayes had struck a bonanza on what the Los Angeles Times would call later in his obituary "probably the richest single gold mining property ever known." Both Hayes and Monnette celebrated by buying big, recently built houses in Los Angeles; the busy pair probably saw no reason to hire their own architects to build since they only only wished to install their families and get back to the business at hand. Monnette bought 951 South Western Avenue, and, to help him invest his new money in banks, called his son, Orra, west from Toledo (once settled, Orra bought 3101 Wilshire Boulevard). Granville Hayes offered Frank Walker $85,000 for his house on Adams Street, as today's Boulevard was then designated, and proceeded to invest in banks and, among other things, utilities. Hayes brought Frances down from Goldfield to live in their new palace, along with Frances Jr., 8, Caroline, 6, and Linville, 5. (Lin Hayes would die in the crash of a plane owned by actor Wallace Beery on March 24, 1930)

A view of the east end of the façade of 3300 appeared in the trade journal Building Progress in its
issue of February 1912. Landscaping had matured beautifully over the past four years.

  • The Walker/Hayes house sat just outside the city limits of Los Angeles—then 150 feet beyond the west curb of Arlington Avenue at Adams—until it was included in the Colegrove Addition of October 27, 1909. Prior to this time, houses beyond the zanja system and its successor network of underground pipes in what was then called West Los Angeles relied on wells and windmills for water; eight days before their properties were annexed to the city, Hayes and several of his closest neighbors filed articles of incorporation for the Arlington Heights Mutual Water Company, which would eventually connect to an expanded city supply due to arrive by aqueduct from the Owens Valley in 1913. (Among the organizers were Hayes's neighbors William S. Bartlett, George F. Winter, Lycurgus Lindsay, Secundo Guasti, and Lucien Brunswig)
  • The Hayses kept a low profile during their 11 years on Adams Street. Granville spent at least as much time away from Los Angeles, continuing to prospect for gold, as he did at home investing the proceeds. It seems likely that he was uninterested in sitting around in the bourgeois splendor of the California or Los Angeles Country clubs when he could be out in the field, but it is also likely that his family's social prospects were limited by rumors of his criminal past—and then there was the sensational rumor of an affair in 1909. The San Francisco Call and the Oakland Tribune, which seem to have been happy to shine an unflattering light on Hayes when Los Angeles papers would not, carried lengthy reports on March 25 of that year inferring that Granville Hayes had checked into a New York hotel posing as the husband of Dorothy Kirk Houseworth, wife of San Francisco stockbroker Frederick Houseworth. Hayes remained mute; the Houseworths issued weak denials but appear to have separated soon after. From the time of the Hayeses' arrival on Adams Street, Frances's name appeared in the press only on rare occasion, and never in connection with genteel ladies' clubs such as the Ebell or Friday Morning. A report in the Herald on November 28, 1908, allowed that "Mrs. G. H. Hayes of 2500 West Adams street lost a Hessian sable boa valued at $400 while motoring in the downtown district yesterday"

Out with the Victorian and in with just as much clutter? While
Charles Whittlesey helped introduce Americans to more horizontal
and arguably less intricate exteriors, even California interior decorators,
catering often to eastern and midwestern transplants, had not yet learned
to let the sun in. It is unclear if Elsie de Wolfe's game-changing 1913
book The House in Good Taste had any effect on later owners,
but Barker Brothers taste was certainly high Grand Rapids.

  • Granville Hayes did as he pleased, and it seems that Frances was satisfied with compensation in the form of furs, chauffeur-driven automobiles, and an enormous house. Even nearing the age of 62, Hayes lusted for what could be extracted from the earth, and so a shift on Adams Street was formulated. Turning seriously toward oil prospecting, Granville departed for Texas in May 1919, but not before organizing a swap of houses. William Alfred Barker, president of the famous Barker Brothers furniture store, wanted a bigger house than the one he had built at 1689 West Adams in 1898 and lived in with his family ever since; Frances Hayes wanted to downsize
  • William A. Barker gave 1689 West Adams and an unspecified amount of cash to Granville Hayes for 3300 West Adams, taking possession of it by March 1919; on the 21st of that month the Department of Buildings issued him a permit to replaster, add retaining walls, and make general repairs
  • The smaller house at 1689 West Adams into which the Hayses moved in early 1919 would turn out to be all the more appropriate when later in the year Los Angeles papers reported that Granville would no longer be visiting Los Angeles even occasionally: He had died after a brief unspecified illness at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Worth on October 14 before Frances's train could reach him. Mrs. Hayes soon moved on from Adams Street anyway, downsizing even further by taking the first in a series of apartments in the Wilshire District
  • The size of the Barkers' new house at 3300 West Adams allowed for the domestic consolidation of the family; William and Pauline Barker headed the household; joining them were her mother, Rose Mary Berman, and the Barkers' son Charles Lawrence and his young family. Lawrence, as he was known, married Nathalie Cole in 1914 following his graduation from Yale. Betty was born to them in 1916 and then William A. Barker II, who arrived just as the family was moving into 3300. William and Pauline's elder son, Everett Berman Barker, had died somewhat mysteriously in Tucson in 1914 at the age of 25 after suffering a nervous breakdown. In its discreet reports the press described him variously an artist, an art student, or as having an "artistic temperament." Even more discreet were reports six years later of Nathalie Barker's death at 3300 on July 23, 1920, with no mention of the cause; could these deaths have been suicide?

A few dozen books and nary a comfortable chair
hardly seem to constitute a library, but this room is
actually rather spare despite its 1907 design scheme. Still
more Victorian-era velvet curtains, patterned rugs,
and bibelots appear in the dining room, below.

  • William Barker had been elected president of Barker Brothers in 1910; the firm was by then the leading furniture dealer in Los Angeles, having cultivated a mixed image of exclusivity and middle-class domesticity, much as Barker was cultivating at 3300 West Adams. Perhaps as a diversion for his family after recent events, he added a garden pergola to the vast property in March 1921. Soon after, Barker came down with an unspecified illness, which would culminate in his death at 3300 on May 17, 1922, at the age of 58
  • With Lawrence Barker now the head of the family, life at 3300 West Adams proceeded apace. Even while the easterly neighborhoods of Adams Street began to empty of the affluent, who were migrating to the Wilshire corridor (Windsor Square and Fremont Place had opened in 1911; Beverly Hills had long been an option, with Hancock Park and Bel-Air and Brentwood and beyond ready in the the early '20s), the privacy afforded by the large properties of Adams's westerly estate area was still appealing to some families such as the Barkers despite the grinding of the Los Angeles Railway out front since 1910 and the redesignation of Adams as an intentionally traffic-attracting "Boulevard" that came with the city's Major Traffic Street Plan of 1924. The Barkers would remain in the neighborhood until 1941
  • Barker Brothers, the roots of which went back to the 1880s when his native-Indianan grandfather Obadiah Truax Barker arrived in Los Angeles from Colorado and entered the furniture trade, hit its stride in the 1920s with the opening of its new block-long building on Seventh Street in January 1926. Lawrence was a vice president of the company, which owned or controlled 12 furniture factories to fill the new store's 11 floors. With his mother and grandmother at home at 3300 to look after the children, Lawrence was able to devote his time to the upbuilding of the family concern; after the success of the new location, he was able to think about a new wife. He and divorcée Josephine Garat Wilcox were married at the First Presbyterian Church on Figueroa Street on October 16, 1930. Due to the recent death of Rose Mary Berman—she'd died at 3300 on September 9—only immediate family members attended the ceremony, immediately after which the newlyweds left on a train for a months-long honeymoon in the east. They would then live for the next several years on the family's private Gooch Island in British Columbia, between the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island. (It seems that many millions' worth of reproduction English highboys and davenports had been dispensed by Barker Brothers over the years as it grew to become more of a department store)

Obadiah Truax Barker arrived in Los Angeles in 1880 foreseeing that those drawn to the city during
the Boom of the Eighties would have many, many rooms in need of furniture. His firm carried
several different names, at times including non-family-member partners; by 1894 it was
known as Barker Brothers after he ceded control to his three sons. The business's
several more humble downtown buildings gave way to the massive store
that still stands at 818 West Seventh Street and served Barker
Brothers until it left downtown in 1984. It was designed
by Alexander E. Curlett and Claud W. Beelman.

  • Barker Brothers would be managed well enough to survive the Depression, though the economy would further alter the use of housing stock of older West Adams neighborhoods toward Figueroa Street that had been seeing conversions of single-family dwellings to boarding establishments or fraternity houses. Demolitions became more common. Adams west from Western Avenue, more or less, would deteriorate at a somewhat slower pace, with some families such as the Barkers remaining until the maintenance scale of their aging piles became more suitable to institutional use. Meanwhile, a new set of Barkers would appear. Josephine gave birth to Lawrene in Victoria, B.C., on August 20, 1933. On September 13, 1934—the day after the groom's 19th birthday—the Times, notably heavy with Barker Brothers advertisements, announced delicately that Lawrence's 18-year-old daughter Betty had married Randolph Mitchell Forbes of Beverly Hills, noting that the "surprise" wedding had, according to the family, actually taken place on June 29, which would exactly accommodate chronologically the birth of Lawrence Randolph Forbes on the following April 1, 1935. Two days after that event, Josephine Barker gave birth to Betty's second half-sister, Carla, in Los Angeles, to which her parents had returned from Canada to live at 3300 West Adams. (They had given the curious combination of a "cocktail tea" as a "home-coming house-warming" at 3300 on Valentine's Day.) The Forbeses would have a daughter, named after her mother, before divorcing, Betty by early 1940 living with the children in a recently-built house on Elderwood Street in Brentwood. Lawrence, Josephine, Lawrene, and Carla as well as Pauline were still living at 3300 and would be one of the last families to leave "estate row" in Arlington Heights, departing not long before Pearl Harbor. They were still in residence when William Alfred Barker II married Mary Louise Miller of Pasadena on June 25, 1941. (The bride's godfather was Carleton F. Burke, son of Berkeley Square developer William R. Burke and one of the last of Los Angeles's social old guard to leave West Adams when he died at #6 Berkeley Square in 1959)
  • Some structural changes were made to 3300 West Adams during the Barkers' occupancy; in 1927, a west bedroom was enlarged; in 1930, some of the house's casement windows were replaced with double-hung units and in 1934 an unspecified balcony was enclosed

A view of main façade of 3300 is flanked by closeups of it; at left is a 1907 image of the terrace and
inset second-floor balcony from the east, destroyed in later alterations as revealed in a recent
shot from the opposite direction. Even without wings, it would have been huge house.

  • Once the Barkers left 3300 West Adams, more changes would be made as the house was adapted for use as the convent of the Helpers of the Holy Souls under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which now owned the building. Archbishop John J. Cantwell's name appears on alteration permits issued by the Department of Building and Safety on October 15, 1941, and March 11, 1942, calling for the addition of a 25-by-8-foot sun parlor to the front of the house, which changed the house's streetside façade considerably. The appendage was designed by the firm of Barker & Ott, Merl L. Barker being a leading Los Angeles architect who coincidentally may have been distantly related to the Barkers recently in residence. Merl Barker was recalled in 1948 to add a large rear-side addition that included a private chapel, bedrooms, and a recreation room for the good sisters
  • By 1980, 3300 West Adams Boulevard was owned by the Olympic Korean Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which had been founded on February 1, 1977, and which occupies the house today

Views from Adams Street at the west drive of 3300, as
seen in in its original configuration and today, illustrate the
dilution of Charles Whittlesey's original design, which as it was
might seem more wings than building. The architect's Bryan
house in 
Westmoreland Place was even more complex.