3911 West Adams Boulevard


  • Completed in 1924 on Lot 3 in Block 10 of the West Adams Terrace Tract; a permit for a 10-room house was issued to businessman F. Irwin Herron by the Department of Buildings on December 17, 1923
  • Architect: Edwin C. Thorne
  • Irwin Herron was at the time of building 3911 West Adams the president of the Mercereau Bridge & Construction Company, which had been incorporated in 1906 by his father-in-law John Drake Mercereau, a long-time bridge and wharf engineer. The company was well known for building the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, opened on December 13, 1913
  • Mrs. Herron's mother, Geraldine Mercereau, was struck and killed by a car at the corner of Seventh and Carondelet streets on May 3, 1928; she was then living nearby at the Hershey Arms on Wilshire Boulevard. Her funeral was held at 3911 West Adams. Mrs. Mercereau's namesake—Geraldine Herron, the elder of the Herron's two daughters—was married at 3911 on June 25, 1929
  • The Herrons' younger daughter, Elizabeth, met stockbroker Daniel Hill in November 1932 when she went to work for him; they were married quietly, and apparently at 3911 West Adams, on January 21, 1933
  • The house is among those in the neighborhood that would have been a better investment had it been built in a Wilshire-corridor subdivision such as Windsor Square or Fremont Place, both of which became competition for West Adams when they opened in 1911—and were far more fashionable than West Adams by the early '20s—or in a Westside tract or one in the northeast suburbs. By 1923, with the city's population beginning its doubling during the '20s, there were already changes in the single-family use of larger houses along West Adams Street to the east; original homeowners began to cash out of their obsolete, high-maintenance dwellings, or to rent them to be used as boarding or fraternity houses. Acknowledging the decline of even the newer, westerly reaches of West Adams, with any new construction there involving multi-unit buildings rather than single-family residences, the Herrons responded by moving to La Cañada in 1936. They appear to have retained ownership of 3911 West Adams, renting it out for use as a small boarding school
  • On July 9, 1936, a certificate of occupancy was issued by the Department of Building and Safety (owner unspecified) for 3911 West Adams to be used as a boarding school "for not more than ten day students and ten boarding students, with not more than ten students to be housed in not over five rooms and not more than two persons to any one room." Peter and Zora Manser, who would be living upstairs, were opening what they called the Manser Travelogue School for the Farm, "a home for children—a new idea," as classified advertisements under "Board for Children" in the Times beginning in February 1937 had it, offering riding, swimming, tutoring, music, and dance. (It is unclear where riding and swimming might have actually taken place on the property.) Over the next few years the Mansers would also advertise their business as a "ranch camp" for children. Miss Leona Free assumed control of the school facilities in 1941 and renamed it the Leona School (perhaps leaving out "Free" to avoid the suggestion of there being no tuition). Miss Free bought the house at this time. She would remain at 3911 West Adams until 1958, when she made plans to move her school to another former single-family residence at 700 South Longwood Avenue, at the southeast corner of Wilshire, which she rented for the purpose; on July 21, 1960, the house's owner received a permit from the Department of Building and Safety to convert it into a school
  • A third school would open in the former Herron house in 1959 when Mary Clay moved her nursery and kindergarten classes from Crenshaw Boulevard into 3911 West Adams, living upstairs as had the Mansers and Leona Free. The school remained in operation after Mary Clay's death in 1971, guided by her family until St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church next door, at the northwest corner of Ninth Avenue, bought the house in 1998 and opened its own preschool. The World City Center School has been offering dual-language learning at 3911 West Adams since it was founded in 2014

Advertisements for the Leona School appeared often in Los Angeles
newspapers during the 1940s and '50s;
its successor, the Mary Clay School,
was featured in the 
Los Angeles Sentinel of June 19, 1975, with an image
of pupils 
Milton Porter and Shelia Watson holding the school banner.

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT; LAS