1263 West Adams Boulevard


  • Built in 1896 on Lot 10 and part of Lot 19 in Block 2 of the Urmston Tract by retired Chicago marble dealer Charles Frederick Saunders as a winter home
  • On December 4, 1895, the Los Angeles Times reported that Charles F. Saunders had just bought Lots 10 and 19 in Block 2 of the Urmston Tract; Lot 19 is directly north of Lot 10 and faces West 25th Street
  • Completed by the summer of 1896, Saunders's house was initially designated 1251 West Adams Street; the neighborhood was only sparsely developed at the time, with addresses changing as lots were filled. Streets, too, were sometimes redesignated, as was the case of Howland Avenue to the east of 1251/1263 (which became Magnolia Avenue by 1898) and Thornton Avenue to the west (which became Ellendale Avenue by 1904 and then the northerly extension of Ellendale Place by 1920). Charles Saunders is listed at 1251 West Adams on 1896 voter rolls. With the city's new address and street arrangements in flux, the listing for the house in the 1897 city directory was "ns. W. Adams, 8th h. W. of Howland av."; Saunders's address became 1263 in the directories of 1898 and 1899
  • Charles Saunders had arrived in Los Angeles with his wife Mary and their adopted daughter Grace in March 1895, apparently having visited Southern California before. After a stay at the Grand Pacific Hotel on Spring Street, the family rented 1954 Estrella Avenue while scouting for property on which to build
  • Charles Saunders and his family seem to have retreated permanently to Chicago by 1900, apparently renting 1263 West Adams before selling it to Dr. Norman H. Morrison, chief surgeon of the Santa Fe Railway's lines west of Albuquerque, by early 1902. Morrison's acquisition included the unimproved Lot 19 in Block 2 of the Urmston Tract, the southerly five feet of which Saunders had technically beforehand transferred to Lot 10 upon which stood 1263 
  • The Los Angeles Express of January 24, 1902, reported that Dr. and Mrs. Norman Morrison—and their children, Lela, 16, and Wayland, 13—were that evening hosting a card party at home at 2316 East Second Street in Boyle Heights. The affair "is in the nature of a farewell to their friends in the Heights.... [The Morrisons] will remove in about two weeks to their new home, 1263 West Adams street...." On March 25, Mrs. Morrison—Maria—was a passenger involved in the collision of two streetcars at Thornton Avenue (later Ellendale Place) and West 24th Street, around the corner from her new house. She was seriously hurt, suffering a spine injury, a concussion, and bruises. These injuries may have contributed to the fatal stroke she suffered at home on June 21, 1905. She was turning 47 that month

Dr. Norman Holt Morrison, as seen in the December 1915 issue of
The Santa Fe Magazine, house organ of the Santa Fe Railway.

  • Norman Morrison had become chief surgeon of the Southern California Hospital Association, organized in 1891 to provide for the care and treatment of employees and crew and passengers injured in railroad accidents on the Santa Fe's Southern California lines. Inpatient hospital care was conducted at the Daughters of Charity's Los Angeles Infirmary, predecessor of St. Vincent's Hospital, on Beaudry Street above Sunset. Morrison was instrumental in the 1904 consolidation the Southern California Hospital Association with the Santa Fe Pacific Hospital Association, bringing all medical facilities of the railroad's system in California, Arizona, and New Mexico under single management. Morrison then spearheaded the construction of the Santa Fe Coast Lines Hospital tin Boyle Heights, completed in the fall of 1905, just months after the death of Mrs. Morrison. (The Santa Fe Coast Lines Hospital evolved into the now-defunct Linda Vista Community Hospital)
  • Dr. Morrison, now 53, was married again on September 5, 1906. The new Mrs. Morrison was 29-year-old Irma E. Rhodes of Kansas City
  • Moving west from Kansas City with the new Mrs. Morrison was her widowed mother, Kate D. Rhodes, and sister Jennie. Dr. Morrison either gave or sold Lot 19, contiguous to 1263 West Adams's Lot 10, to Mrs. Rhodes, who, in early 1907, built 1262 West 25th Street there. (In 1927, under a new owner, that single-story house was raised 12 feet in its conversion from a single-family residence into a fourplex)
  • Irma Morrison bore Norman Morrison two more daughters: Catherine on February 12, 1909, and Marian on January 7, 1912. In a ceremony at 1263 West Adams on June 13 of that year, Dr. Morrison's eldest daughter, Lela, now 25, married Roger L. Rice, who was then farming in Santa Cruz County. Wayland Morrison was graduated from Stanford in 1910 and was studying at Harvard Medical School; in something of a local social merger, Wayland, stationed at Fort Dix and just about to leave for France, married Vassar student Lucile Phillips, an Angeleno who was a daughter of the Lee Allen Phillipses of of 4 Berkeley Square. The ceremony took place at the Little Church Around the Corner in New York on December 27, 1917. On Major Morrison's return to Los Angeles in March 1919, the couple began building 434 South Plymouth Boulevard in Windsor Square, a commodious dwelling for a young couple, one perhaps financed by the bride's very rich father as a wedding present
  • Dr. Norman H. Morrison died at 1263 West Adams on July 3, 1921. He'd become ill around the time of his son's return from overseas; Wayland Morrison appears to have gradually taken over his father's duties at the Santa Fe hospital and was duly elected chief surgeon of the Santa Fe Coast Lines Hospital Association in September. Jennie Rhodes died on April 30, 1919; Kate Rhodes was still living at 1262 West 25th when she died on March 2, 1922. Irma Morrison remained at 1263 West Adams until 1923, when she moved to 690 South Bronson Avenue
  • Douglass and Emily Blue—their names in some records appearing as Douglas and Emma—were the next owners of 1263 West Adams. Mr. Blue was a longtime Kern County gold-mine operator apparently retiring to the city. The Blues would be using the house to take advantage of the housing shortage faced by Los Angeles in the 1920s, during which its population would more than double; as the bigger West Adams houses emptied of their original owners, drawn to the newer and more fashionable suburbs of the Wilshire corridor such as Windsor Square, Hancock Park, Beverly Hills and on west, their aging barns became ripe for conversion into multi-unit dwellings, including rooming houses and U.S.C. fraternity residences. The Blues' such plans for 1263 appear to have been underway when Douglass Blue died in Monrovia on March 12, 1928. On January 24, 1927, he had been issued a permit by the Department of Building and Safety to enlarge the two-car garage into one accommodating four. By 1930, Emily Blue would move out of 1263, renting it to others and their lodgers, sometimes returning to live there. In April 1933, she remarried; her groom was box manufacturer Herbert A. Sloan. The couple moved into 1263 and then into 2647 Ellendale Place just around the corner from 1263 West Adams, having acquired that property, which at one time had been U.S.C.'s Zeta Beta Tau house. It was now divided into flats, including her own. The marriage did not last. By 1937, Mrs. Sloan had reverted to being Mrs. Blue, with her listing in the 1938 city directory at 2647 Ellendale even once again including the notation "wid Douglas."  By 1940 and for several more years, she was living back at 1263 West Adams. Her ownership of the house after 1942 is unclear, with her being listed at various hotels including the Leighton on Sixth Street facing MacArthur Park. She died in Los Angeles on November 9, 1953
  • 1263 West Adams appears to have been acquired by David T. Rangel by 1956. Rangel and his apparent extended family, the Martinezes and Fariases, would also acquire 1267, 1277, and 1283 just to the west, along with several other properties in the neighborhood
  • On December 19, 1983, the Department of Building and Safety issued Juan Rangel Diaz a permit to stucco the exterior of 1263 West Adams
  • On February 10, 2005, the Department of Building and Safety issued Jorge and Margarita Martinez a permit for a new roof
  • The Rangel/Farias/Martinez family appear to retain 1263 West Adams in 2020

Illustrations: Private Collection; The Santa Fe Magazine