3825 West Adams Boulevard

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  • Built in 1913 on Lot 1 in Block 11 of the West Adams Terrace Tract by Josephine and Ada Dryden, the two unmarried daughters of pioneer Angeleno William Dryden. It was to be their home and that of their mother, Mary. The Department of Buildings issued a construction permit, one bearing the names of both sisters, on October 6, 1913. Nearing 77, William Dryden had died at the family's former house at the northwest corner of Jefferson Street and Orchard Avenue on August 27, 1912. 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 next year would build 3817 West Adams next door for another of Dryden's daughters, Mary Dryden Stevens, as well as 2501 Ninth Avenue, a block north, for yet another daughter, Emma Dryden Bohlinger, who would remain in her house until her death in 1973. All three houses, in three completely different styles, remain standing today. After moving to their new neighborhood, the family retained the house at 1071 West Jefferson Street; in April 1918, Ada Dryden was issued a permit by the Department of Buildings to move it two lots west and hired Shattuck to convert it into a four-flat dwelling
  • William Dryden had arrived in California from his native New York State in 1861, coming south from Watsonville to Los Angeles County seven years later. Not to be confused with William G. Dryden, a colorful county judge who died in 1869, 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. In the fall of 1890, Dryden, though he would continue ranching to the south, had moved his family to the house he'd bought on Jefferson Street that August, one described at the time in directories as being in "West Los Angeles"
  • In September 1927, the house's coal-fired furnace was replace with a gas unit
  • Still living at 3825 West Adams, Miss Ada Ann Dryden, a longtime school teacher, died in Los Angeles on August 31, 1941, four months after her brother George on April 17. Josephine Dryden had died at 3825 on September 14, 1917; their mother had died at 92 on December 1, 1923. Ada was survived by her sisters Mary and Emma and by her brother Charles. Her funeral, as had been her mother's and her sister's, was held at 3825
  • The ownership of 3825 after the death of Ada Dryden is unclear; it appears to have been rented during the war years, offered for sale in 1947, and later in the decade used as a meeting space. A display advertisement in the Los Angeles Sentinel on October 2, 1947, did not name an asking price, but described a "Georgian Colonial type home" that was "An Artist Conception of Perfection," positing that "Nothing Could be Finer." The house took a more interesting turn in the mid-1950s, by which time it had been acquired by the by-some-accounts-saintly-but-not-by-all Bishop Rosa A. Horn. Bishop Horn appears to have been the distaff version of Bishop Charles Manuel "Sweet Daddy" Grace, another religious leader from the East Coast who delighted in living in luxury while surrounded by stories of Pentecostal flimflammery and shady financial dealings; 3825 West Adams was Bishop Horn's answer to Sweet Daddy Grace's 4 Berkeley Square nearby. According to the New York Age of December 12, 1959, "Mother Rosa Horn," as she was sometimes called—in some references she was "Prophetess Rosa Horn"—was a "wealthy religious cult leader" who arrived in New York in the 1920s "'to preach the word' and ended up with a $35,000 cottage in Westchester and $150,000 worth of property on Lenox Ave. It is [a story of] superstition, intrigue, double-dealing and revenge...." (James Baldwin modeled Sister Margaret Alexander in his play The Amen Corner after Rosa.) While Bishop Horn was not in residence, she made 3825 West Adams available, as it had been in the 1940s, for weddings, receptions, and meetings, calling it, for some reason, "Le-Cawth Manor." With the house still apparently in her real estate portfolio, Bishop Horn died in New York on May 11, 1976
  • On December 18, 2001, 3825 West Adams became Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #705
  • The Dryden house is one of several residences along the "Avenues" stretch of Adams Boulevard that, in a sense, caught their builders just as dwellings of equivalent size and architectural merit were first being built well north of the Adams District along the Wilshire corridor. Windsor Square and Fremont Place both opened in 1911; had 3825 been built in one of those subdivisions for instance—or had 3817 next door or 3820—it might today be worth $5,000,000 or up. As it is, its sales history shows that the Adams District, after nine decades of decline, is rebounding in a remarkable way. The house sold for $369,000 in 1997; in 2003, for $840,000; and in 2009, for $1,280,000. The population pressures in 1920s Los Angeles had caused many affluent homeowners in West Adams to monetize their property and move on to newer developments, leaving the district to fade; the housing shortage today is bringing it back as its affordability and hidden charm is being rediscovered 




All three commissions for new houses given

to architect Charles E. Shattuck by the Dryden family
still stand; the year 
after Ada and Josephine started 3825
West Adams in 1913, their 
sister Mary Dryden Stevens started on
3817 next door, with a fourth sister, 
Emma Dryden Bohlinger, building
2501 Ninth Avenue a block north—seen above—also in 1914. Perhaps at the
request of the sisters, Shattuck seems to have taken particular pains to make each

project architecturaly distinctive—resulting in a mini-museum of pre–World War I domestic
styles. Below: 
Looking north on Western Avenue across Santa Barbara Avenue (Martin Luther
King Jr. Boulevard), October 1, 1924. The Drydens had not altogether left the quarter section
that made their fortune; retaining Lot 1 in Block 53 of the Vermont Avenue Square Tract after
selling the rest of the 160 acres in 1911, Ada Dryden (who seemed to be the family's CEO)
was issued a construction permit by the Department of Buildings on October 17 of
that year for a four-store, four-apartment structure at 4001 South Western
Avenue designed, of course, by Shattuck, their architect of choice. It
passed to Emma Bohlinger 1941, who retained it until her death
in 1973; it was demolished that year. Note that DRYDEN
can be seen under the building's cornice at left.




As seen in the Los Angeles Sentinel
on August 2, 1962.




Illustrations: Private Collection; USCDLLAPL