3817 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1914 on Lot 2 in Block 11 of the West Adams Terrace Tract by Roy and Mary Dryden Stevens. The Department of Buildings issued the Stevenses a construction permit for 3817 West Adams Street on August 1, 1914, and one for a garage on the property on October 1. West Adams Terrace had only been part of the City of Los Angeles since October 27, 1909, when it was annexed in the Colegrove addition
  • Architect: Charles E. Shattuck, who the year before had built 3825 West Adams next door for Mrs. Stevens's unmarried sisters Ada and Josephine Dryden and their mother. Shattuck also designed 2501 Ninth Avenue, a block north, for the youngest Dryden sister, Emma Dryden Bohlinger; a permit for that house was issued six weeks after that of 3817. All three houses, in three completely different styles, remain standing today
  • Mrs. Stevens was one of four daughters of pioneer Angeleno William Dryden, who had arrived in California from his native New York State in 1861, coming south from Watsonville to Los Angeles County seven years later. He is said to have traded a horse—one that died soon after the transaction—for 160 acres well south of the city in 1870, a quarter-section bounded by today's Western, Arlington, and Vernon avenues and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Here on the Dryden Ranch, as it came to be called, William became a truck farmer, raised his family, and held out longer than most surrounding landowners to the overtures of developers, who became particularly interested after the property was annexed by the city as part of the famous shoestring addition down to the port on December 26, 1906. It wasn't until early 1911 that Dryden caved to the $1,000,000 offer for his ranch from the Southwest Land Company, which immediately created what it advertised as "New Vermont Square," an 841-lot addition to Southwest's nearby Vermont Avenue Square tracts platted several years before
  • The Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer of July 25, 1914, described the house as one of 14 rooms, with "blue brick veneer first story exterior, plaster on metal lath and half-timbered second story, slate roof, hardwood floors throughout, oak, birch, mahogany and pine trim, tiled fireplaces, two bathrooms with tiled floors and wainscot...."
  • The Stevenses moved into 3817 West Adams with their two young children, Terrill, born in 1903, and Frances, born in 1907. Terrill was 19 when he married Miss Gladys Garlock in 1922; he was living back at 3817 sans Gladys by 1927 and worked in the men's clothing business for the next few years. He married again in 1931 and appears to have become a forest ranger for a few years before returning to school. (He would later become an associate professor of forestry at Michigan State College in Lansing; today a Terrill D. Stevens Memorial Forestry Scholarship is awarded to "the outstanding senior at Michigan State University based equally on academic scholarship, integrity, professional attitude and promise, and participation in forestry activities")
  • Roy Stevens, a longtime executive with the Well Fargo railroad express service and its successor companies, died at 3817 West Adams on December 20, 1933; Mary and Frances Stevens stayed in the house for several years afterward. Rather than move in with Mrs. Stevens's sister Ada, who was living alone next door at the commodious 3825—Josephine had died in 1917 and Mrs. Dryden in 1923—Mrs. Stevens and her daughter were by 1937 living in a small apartment building at 1353 West Adams Boulevard
  • Mary Stevens sold 3817 West Adams to William Q. Osburn and his wife Gertrude, both longtime educators with the Los Angeles City Schools system. At the time of moving into 3817, Mr. Osburn was the principal of John H. Francis Polytechnic Evening High School, then on Washington Boulevard; his wife was the vice-principal of John Muir Junior High at Vermont Avenue and West 60th Street. Mr. Osburn's widowed mother, Dr. Eva St. Clair Haskett Osburn Barber, a physician and surgeon, had come to Los Angeles from Tacoma with her son and daughter-in-law in 1924; she died in 1937 as the Osburns were moving into 3817 
  • The Osburns remained at 3817 West Adams until not long before his death in Los Angeles on April 20, 1956
  • Civic activist Kathryn Kinney bought 3817 West Adams from the Osburns after separating from her husband, Henry; she was at time the executive director of the Woodlawn branch of the Y.W.C.A. On February 4, 1950, The Chicago Defender had reported that for the first time the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Southern California had given a master's degree to "a Negro woman, Mrs. Kathryn Kinney...along with membership in the exclusive and distinguished Phi Kappa Phi international honorary society." Mrs. Kinney married John H. Graham, 11 years her junior, on August 19, 1962. He was issued several permits by the Department of Building and Safety in 1968 for improvements to the property, including the addition of a swimming pool. Real estate websites in 2018 describe 3817 West Adams as a six-bedroom, two bath single-family house of 4,102 square feet and indicate that John H. Graham was still the owner as of 2010

Illustration: Private Collection