Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tours, Talks, and Sunset Boulevard

L.A.'s Third Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum/Palace Theatre

A quick note about a couple of historically-minded events in downtown Los Angeles this weekend: Ed Kelsey's presentation at the Palace Theatre on the very eve of its centennial; and the Last Bookstore's inaugural tour of the Secret Lives of Downtown led by Brady Westwater.

If you're not among the lucky ticketholders to be a part of one of the three Sunday screenings of Sunset Boulevard at the Palace Theatre in conjunction with the L.A. Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats program, you're missing a special event indeed. Sunday will mark 100 years to the day that architect G. Albert Landsburg's vaudeville theater opened for business on Broadway as the Orpheum. You're not entirely out of luck, though. As a special treat, the League of Historic American Theatres' Ed Kelsey will provide a special presentation on the Palace this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at the theater. Hosted by the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, Ed's talk will be followed by your opportunity to tour the building and check out the results of the first phase of the building's restoration. Believe me, the chance to walk on the same stage on which the Marx Brothers trod is more than worth the price of admission, which for Saturday's event is free.

Also this weekend, for the low price of $15 (cheap!) you can be a part of Brady Westwater's first walking tours of "secret" downtown. You may've taken any number of tours of downtown, but what I know of Mr Westwater guarantees a point of view you will not have gotten from anyone in the past. The tours are scheduled to last about 2 1/2 hours each and begin at 11:00 a.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday. As if you needed any more incentive, the tours are presented by and begin at the Last Bookstore at 5th and Spring. Maybe it's your first chance to see the shop in its new location; the Last Bookstore held its grand re-opening on June 3. For more information on The Secret Lives of Downtown, visit the shop's blog. Thanks, Brady, for the alert.

And a nod to the Los Angeles Public Library for the photo.

Have a great history-filled weekend, everyone.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's the Silver Anniversary for the Last Remaining Seats

The Palace Theatre

You know what's the best part of this year's Last Remaining Seats? We're getting the opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the 100-year-old Palace Theatre, and on its 100th birthday no less.

It's the L.A. Conservancy's 25th year of holding this event, and my guess is anyone within distance reading this has taken advantage of this awesome program. (Yeah, I know how stunning the Los Angeles and Orpheum theatres are, but my favorite Last Remaining Seats moment was seeing Bud and Lou in Buck Privates at the Million Dollar a couple of years back. What do you remember most of the last 25 years?) This year we get two chances to visit the Palace Theatre one century after it opened - to the day; there'll be both a matinee and evening screening of Sunset Boulevard on June 26. The Palace isn't a Historic-Cultural Monument, but don't let that stop you from visiting. I was lucky enough to visit the house back in February 2009 as part of a Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation tour. That picture up top - the ceiling mural close-up - is from then. Stopping back at the start of summer will be a treat (and don't even get me started about seeing King Kong at the Los Angeles; how great will that be?). I'm sure you know the drill, but here's the lowdown from the Conservancy:


Classic Films and Live Entertainment in the Historic Theatres of Los Angeles

Special Season Includes Bonus Screenings on Palace Theatre’s 100th Birthday

May 25 – June 29, 2011; Tickets on sale March 30 to members, April 13 to general public

LOS ANGELES (March 2, 2011) – The Los Angeles Conservancy has announced the lineup for the twenty-fifth season of Last Remaining Seats, its signature series of classic films and live entertainment in historic theatres. All screenings will take place in the movie palaces of downtown Los Angeles’ Broadway Historic Theatre District.

The 2011 season runs primarily on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. from May 25 through June 29. To celebrate the twenty-fifth year, this season includes a bonus seventh show (two screenings, matinee and evening) at the Palace Theatre on Sunday, June 26, a century to the day after the theatre opened. Los Angeles Conservancy members chose the special screening through a Fan Favorite poll, selecting the 1950 classic Sunset Boulevard. This special bonus event is in conjunction with Bringing Back Broadway’s "Broadway 100," a series of events marking important milestones on Broadway.

Tickets go on sale to Los Angeles Conservancy members at 10 a.m. on March 30 and to the general public at 10 a.m. on April 13, all at Advance tickets cost $20 ($16 for Conservancy members).

The 2011 schedule appears below. All programs are subject to change; any updates will be posted in the Last Remaining Seats section of our website at

Wednesday, May 25 – Rear Window (1954) at the Orpheum Theatre (1926)

Thriller starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Thelma Ritter, directed by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Evening host: film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. Pre-show performance by Robert York on the Orpheum's original Mighty Wurlitzer organ. At the beautifully restored Orpheum Theatre, celebrating its 85th birthday this year.

Wednesday, June 1 – The Music Man (1962) at the Los Angeles Theatre (1931)

The Technicolor version of the hit musical, with Robert Preston as con man Harold Hill. Special guest: Co-star Susan Luckey. At the magnificent Los Angeles Theatre, the last and grandest movie palace built on Broadway, celebrating its 80th birthday this year.

Wednesday, June 8 – Captain Blood (1935) at the Million Dollar Theatre (1918)

Swashbuckler that catapulted Errol Flynn to stardom and garnered Academy Award® nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (Michael Curtiz). At the beautiful Million Dollar Theatre, one of the first movie palaces in the U.S.

Wednesday, June 15 – King Kong (1933) at the Los Angeles Theatre

The original, timeless classic tale of beauty and the beast, starring Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray. Special guest: Pauline Wagner, Fay Wray's stunt double in the film.

Wednesday, June 22 – Zoot Suit (1981) at the Million Dollar Theatre

Co-presented with the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles

Filmed version of the play that made Edward James Olmos a star; based on the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial and Zoot Suit Riots of 1940s Los Angeles.

Sunday, June 26 – Sunset Boulevard (1950) at the Palace Theatre (1911)

Sardonic look at Hollywood starring Gloria Swanson, William Holden, and Nancy Olson; Olson is slated to appear for an interview before either the matinee or evening screening. Voted Fan Favorite film by Los Angeles Conservancy members for this special bonus show celebrating the 25th season of Last Remaining Seats and the 100th birthday of the Palace Theatre, which opened June 26, 1911. Hosted by Fox-11 reporter Tony Valdez.

Wednesday, June 29 – Safety Last! (1923) at the Orpheum Theatre

Masterpiece of silent comedy starring Harold Lloyd, who ends up climbs up the side of a “skyscraper” on Broadway (filmed half a block from where it will be screened). Hosted by Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd; film accompanied live by Robert Israel on the Orpheum’s original Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

For full schedule information, visit

About Last Remaining Seats

What began in 1987 as a way to draw attention to Los Angeles’ historic theatres is now a summer tradition. Thousands of people come from all over Southern California, the United States, even other countries, to experience classic films as they were meant to be seen: in beautiful, single-screen theatres filled with fellow fans, and accompanied by vintage short films, onstage interviews, and live performances. For more information, see 25 Years of Last Remaining Seats.

2011 Last Remaining Seats Sponsors (As of March 1, 2011)

Series Star Sponsor: Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Series Supporting Sponsor: Steve Bing. Series Sponsors: NBC Universal; Trina Turk; Valley Economic Development Corporation. Evening Sponsors: Cathy and Steve Needleman; Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer; Warner Bros.; Clifton’s and The Edison; Paramount Pictures and 213 Downtown LA Nightlife; Hugh Hefner. Media Sponsor: Los Angeles Downtown News. VIP Reception Sponsor: Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. Funded in part by: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs; The Walt Disney Company.

The Los Angeles Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization that works through education and advocacy to recognize, preserve, and revitalize the historic architectural and cultural resources of Los Angeles County. What began as a volunteer group in 1978 now has more than 6,000 members, making the Conservancy the largest local organization of its kind in the U.S. For more information, visit

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

See Scrooge this Sunday at the Million Dollar Theatre

Scrooge poster courtesy of

Jessica at the Los Angeles Conservancy asked me to remind you about this Sunday's matinee of Scrooge (1970) at the very historic Million Dollar Theatre downtown. I know everyone's weekends get a little crunched this time of year, but if you can spare the two hours and ten bucks, I bet you won't regret spending the afternoon in this 82-year-old theatre. Here's the Conservancy's press release:

L.A. Conservancy Holiday Matinee

Scrooge (1970)

Sunday, December 5; 2 p.m.

Million Dollar Theatre (1918)

307 S. Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles

$10 adults; $5 kids 12 and under (free candy canes!)

Tickets available here.

Kick off the holiday season with the Los Angeles Conservancy’s fifth annual holiday film matinee, featuring the joyous musical Scrooge (1970). Albert Finney and Alec Guinness star in this delightful version of A Christmas Carol filled with song, dance, and holiday cheer (not to mention ghosts, Tiny Tim, and Victorian London).

See the film in its colorful, big-screen splendor at the historic Million Dollar Theatre (1918), one of L.A.’s most historic movie palaces. Constructed as Sid Grauman’s first venue in Los Angeles, the Million Dollar was one of the largest and most ornate theatres built at the time specifically to show movies.

Million Dollar Theatre
Million Dollar Theatre photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Make an afternoon of it! Bring your friends and family downtown for an afternoon of holiday shopping and dining. Show your Scrooge ticket for 10 percent off at the iconic Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria on Broadway, a downtown classic since 1935!

For details and tickets, please visit here.

Happy Holidays from the Los Angeles Conservancy!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Your Chance to Tour "El Mio"

Smith Estate

If I weren’t going to be out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, you can bet your bippy I’d be taking advantage of this special tour of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 142, the Smith Estate AKA El Mio. If you cough up the five bucks (cheap!) and take the tour, why don’t you let those of us who can’t make it know what you thought? The event benefits the Milford Archaeological Research Institute. Here's the information and press release:

"El Mio" Tour Poster

"The LA city Cultural Monument Victorian residence of El Mio will be open for a Home tour and craft fair November 28, 2010. El Mio is perched on a hilltop overlooking historic Highland Park. Completed in 1887, the home was built in the Eastlake Queen Anne-style by the occults writer Judge David Patterson Hatch. In 1890 the residence was acquired by Charles William Smith and remained in the Smith family until the 1960s. In 1900 Smith was appointed by Henry E. Huntington to run the Los Angeles Railway’s Yellow Car trolley system. From his hilltop home he could see the Arroyo Seco Valley being developed with rail lines running from downtown to Pasadena. It is due to the Smith's long residence that the house is listed as "The Smith Estate" on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the late 1980s ardent preservationists Michael and Lacy Gage purchased the house
and were responsible for various restorations. The current owners Tim and Mari Parker
acquired the home in 1997, and after a devastating fire in 2001, have been working to
restore the home to its original luster. It has a rebuilt attic, the exterior color scheme is based on the original, and the interior has been largely decorated to reflect the original period. The home has Victorian furnishings and hand painted stenciling in the entrance hall, dining room, and many of the other rooms. The Parkers have graciously offered to open their home for a tour and craft fair. Tickets are available for the home tour by calling 213 309 8854 or via email at Proceeds from ticket and craft sales are tax deductible and support the Milford Archaeological Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and the understanding of archaeology in the Desert Southwest."

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Strolling on Seventh Street

Fine Arts Building

What are you doing on November 7? No, no, no. I mean besides celebrating King Kong Bundy's birthday. Well, you better be taking the L.A. Conservancy's walking tour of downtown's 7th Street. The deal is for thirty bucks ($25 for Conservancy members - cheap!) you walk the stretch from Figueroa to Los Angeles, stopping at a bunch of sites for guided tours. These sites include Historic-Cultural Monument No. 125, the Fine Arts Building (that's one of the building's Burt W. Johnson sculptures above), and that lobby alone is worth the price of admission. Other sites include:

Broadway Plaza (Macy’s Plaza) (Charles Luckman Associates, 1973) - This plaza is one of the few modern buildings on Seventh and was the first "megastructure" in the U.S., combining a hotel with office and retail space. Guests will visit the circular glass Polaris Room atop the Sheraton Hotel, once a rotating restaurant known as Angel's Flight and now used only for private events.

Roosevelt Building (The Roosevelt) (Curlett and Beelman, 1927) - Touted as Southern California's largest office building when it opened, this massive structure now features over 200 residential units and a restored lobby with spectacular marble mosaic floors.

Brock & Co. (Seven Grand) (Dodd and Richards, 1922) - Once dubbed the “Tiffany’s of California,” Brock’s provided jewelry and china to an elite clientele. The building later housed Clifton’s Silver Spoon cafeteria and now serves as home to the super-hip whiskey bar Seven Grand. Guests will have the chance to pore over original ledgers from Brock & Co., including a 1920s diamond register with intricate sketches of jewelry pieces.

Coulter Dry Good Company & Henning Building (The Mandel) (Dodd and Richards, 1917) - Coulter Dry Goods Company was Los Angeles’ oldest mercantile establishment when it moved to its sixth location in 1917. Now combined with its small neighbor to the west, the building offers loft-style housing and an enormous rooftop garden with stunning views.

St. Vincent’s Court - A unique urban space, St. Vincent’s Court is at the heart of the former Bullock’s Department Store complex. Still a working alley, this dead-end street has eclectic charm and a surprising history.

Hellman Commercial Trust & Savings Bank (SB Spring) (Schultze and Weaver, 1925) - This building's two-story bank lobby, with ornamental ceilings by Giovanni Smeraldi, is a study in marble and bronze opulence -- and a popular filming location.

Overell’s (Dearden’s Home Furnishings) (Architect unknown, c. 1906) - Celebrating a century of business downtown, Dearden’s Home Furnishings has for decades occupied the building originally constructed for another furniture store, Overell’s. Dearden’s is a beloved community icon, an old-school classic, and the last remaining example of the many furniture stores that once filled the district.

Santee Court (Arthur W. Angel, 1911) - Located in the birthplace of L.A.’s fashion district, Santee Court’s vintage industrial buildings now form a thriving loft-style housing complex around a central courtyard. The featured loft on the tour occupies a space formed by connecting two buildings, resulting in an amazing "ghost sign" in the living room.

The event begins at 10:00 a.m., November 7. For more information, make with the clicks here. See you there - I'll be the guy with the camera.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

No. 230 - Villa Maria

Villa Maria

Villa Maria
1908 – F.L. Roehrig
2425 South Western Avenue – map
Declared: 6/12/80

William Edmund Ramsay, born the son of Scottish immigrants in Quebec in 1855, made his fortune in the lumber business in Saginaw, Michigan, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1906, Ramsay moved to Los Angeles with his family and bought up three parcels of land between Western Avenue and Adams Place (the latter renamed St Andrews Place in 1914) in West Adams Heights. Included in the mix were more than two and a half acres Ramsay purchased from Mira Hershey. Ramsay then hired architect Frederick L. Roehrig (1857 – 1948) to design this 9,000 square foot, forty-room mansion. Completed in the summer of 1908, the estate wouldn’t remain Ramsay’s home for long, as he died of “heart trouble” in early February the next year.

Villa Maria

In that summer of ‘08, the L.A. Times wrote of Ramsay’s 225 x 500 foot property, “Probably no more entertaining spot could be found in all Los Angeles on which to build a handsome home.” Roehrig and the building contractors, the Barber-Bradley Construction Co., created for the Ramsays a three-story, Tudor Revival masterpiece made of stone and half timber, plaster finish, and topped with a slate roof.

Villa Maria

See! The grand entrance hall, ceiling-beamed and wainscoted in mahogany.

Villa Maria

Behold! The former living room/library. Originally, the room sported electric fixtures made of brass with Tiffany shades. Like with the rest of the first floor, this section of the home featured leaded windows.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria

Witness! The very splendid dining room, also in mahogany.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria

Observe! The kitchen.

Villa Maria

View! Other pictures.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria
Villa Maria

Art glass, from the inside and out.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria

The second floor contained five bedrooms, each finished in white enamel and given its own bathroom. The showcase of the Ramsay’s third floor was a 25 x 90 foot assembly hall/ballroom. That floor also had four bedrooms as part of its servants’ quarters.

Going back outside, F.L. Roehrig was also in charge of the estate’s landscaping. Here’s the old pergola, sans the original lily pond.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria

On the lot’s northwest corner stands the two-and-half-story carriage house with chauffeur’s quarters.

Villa Maria
The home originally did have a tennis court, but probably not a basketball court.

Back in 2001, historian Cecilia Rasmussen wrote the Ramsay estate – after William’s death – became the site of “lavish parties, quarrels, a shooting and a suicide – of which no details survive.” (Rasmussen claims scenes from a Charlie Chaplin film were shot on the lawn – anyone have any idea which movie?) Ramsay’s widow, Katherine, by the way, passed away in July 1916.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria

Owners #2. William Durfee and Nellie McGaughey were each thirty-two-years old when they met; she was a filthy rich society dame, Durfee was “her mother’s horse trainer, a harness racing driver, a gambler, married and the father of two.” Soon after Nellie’s mom died in 1911, the couple wed, living in the South Figueroa Street mansion that had been the home of Nellie’s mother and her husband, banker Nicola Bonfilio. In 1924, a year after Bonfilio’s death, the Durfees bought the Ramsay estate for $105,000.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria
The north (top) and west facades.

Unfortunately, William Durfee died three years later after eating some poisoned fish on a trip to the Columbia River. Nellie didn’t take Durfee’s demise all that well, giving a go at suicide on a few occasions. While none of those attempts was successful, the poor woman grew to be an eccentric kook who, among other things, preserved her home in a museum-like fashion as kind of a shrine to her late husband – you know, keeping his clothes in his closet, his booze in the wine cellar, and the key to his bedroom around her neck. This lasted until she finally passed away in February 1976, a few months short of turning 100.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria

Owners #3. In the spring of 1978, the Brothers of St John of God, who, in the 1960s, demolished a turn-of-the-century mansion next door to the Ramsay-Durfee estate to make room for their nursing hospital, bought the seventy-year-old mansion for $470,000. The Brothers auctioned off much of the original furniture, fixtures, and Nellie’s seventy oriental rugs.

I should point out the Brothers have apparently been excellent stewards of the property. It was during their ownership the mansion was declared a Historic-Cultural Landmark as Villa Maria, and they were gracious to open up the house as part of a neighborhood tour put on by the West Adams Heritage Association last June. That’s when these pictures were taken.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria
Villa Maria
The way in and out toward Western Avenue.

In addition to the aforementioned, unidentified Chaplin film, the Villa Maria has been the location for a few movies, including True Confessions and Sister Act II: Back in the Habit.

Villa Maria
Villa Maria


“English Domestic Architecture Employed in Designing Handsome West Adams Heights Home.” The Los Angeles Times; Sep 27 1908, p. V1

“Catholic Order Purchases Historic Durfee Mansion for Headquarters” The Los Angeles Times; Mar 12, 1978, p. I25

Rasmussen, Cecilia “West Adams Mansion: If Only These Walls Could Talk” The Los Angeles Times; Jul 8, 2001, p. B3

Up next: El Greco Apartments

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

No. 229 - Westminster Presbyterian Church Building

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Presbyterian Church Building
1931 – Quentin Scott
2230 West Jefferson Boulevard – map
Declared: 6/11/80

Historic-Cultural Monument No. 229 is a Romanesque church building that has served as headquarters for two Presbyterian congregations during its seventy-eight year history – St Paul’s and Westminster.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

At the end of 1930, Southwest Builder and Contractor announced Alhambra architect Scott Quentin – well, the magazine spelled his name Quintin – had completed preliminary plans for a new building for St Paul’s Presbyterian Church at Jefferson and 3rd. The new church would run $60,000, the magazine went on, and would contain a “basement, banquet room, social hall, auditorium to seat 600 people and Sunday School rooms to accommodate 800 pupils. Dimensions 86 x 124 feet, frame and stucco construction, tile and composition roofing, cement and ample floors, art glass, gas steam heating, etc.” The church’s pastor in 1930 was the Reverend Gustav A. Briegleb, who had been leading St Paul’s since leaving Westlake Presbyterian Church in October 1926. He succeeded Dr William G. Mills at St Paul’s.

Constructed by the Myers Brothers Company, the four-story building would replace a two-story, $35,000 church building put up just seven-and-a-half years earlier. That structure, designed by H.H. Whitely, was an addition to an older building, circa 1915 (the congregation was founded in May 1910). Whitely’s building seated about 600 worshippers, a little more than 100 larger than the congregation’s size during its March 18, 1923, dedication.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

In January 1931, the Los Angeles Times reported demolition of the old church buildings would begin on the 12th and that the congregation would hold services at the Home Theater on Jefferson west of Arlington till the new structure was complete. The article also quoted Rev. Briegleb’s saying St Paul’s had just received a $40,000 loan from the Bank of America along with a gift of a diamond ring – valued at $3,554 – from “well-known politician Charles Crawford”. It turns out Crawford would give more than jewelry to finance the new church building.

Charles H. Crawford was a Los Angeles saloon-keeper-turned-crime-boss who surprised many folks with his conversion to the faith as a new member of St Paul’s Presbyterian Church in 1930. It was during his baptism that June when he donated the pricey ring, telling Rev. Briegleb to sell it and put the proceeds to the construction of a new Sunday School for the parish. At the time, Crawford was under indictments of bribery charges (those charges were later dismissed, as were charges of extortion and conspiracy in other cases). Briegleb’s acceptance of Crawford into the fold along with the racketeer’s gift was controversial, of course. The Reverend R.P. Shuler, a former pal of Briegleb, broadcasted he would “just as soon baptize a skunk as to receive Crawford.” Shuler also maintained it was Crawford’s money that was financing Briegleb’s radio sermons in which he endorsed some of Charles H.’s pals for political office, a charge which the reverend later copped to. (In fact, Crawford’s unrealized plans to finance a permanent radio station in St Paul’s were revealed after his death.)

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Five months later after his baptism, Crawford donated a full $25,000 to St Paul’s for a new church building. When detractors criticized Briegleb’s receiving a donation from the “sinister influence”, the pastor replied, “If you know of any more sinners who have $25,000, send ‘em along: I can use it.”

Rev. Briegleb and his 700-member congregation dedicated the new St Paul’s Presbyterian Church building on May 17, 1931, with a sermon entitled, “Should We Build New Churches When Multitudes Are Hungry?” Of special note was the structure’s twelve-foot revolving lighted cross perched atop its tower. The church’s new parish house was named the Amelia Crawford Memorial, in honor of benefactor Charles H.’s mom.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Crawford didn’t attend the new church building for long, though. Four days after St Paul’s dedication, former deputy district attorney David H. Clark entered Crawford’s office at 6665 Sunset Boulevard and shot to death the politico (good thing he got in his baptism) and newspaper man Herbert Spencer. While Clark was acquitted of Spencer’s murder after pleading self-defense (prosecutors dropped the case of Crawford’s death), he eventually went to prison for the November 1953 shotgun slaying of the wife of his best friend and former law partner in Costa Mesa (seems she was bugging him to get a job). By the way, Clark, during the Spencer murder trial, was still running for municipal judge. He received 60,000 votes while in prison, proving some folks weren’t too broken up to see Crawford bite it.

In 1949, following its merger with Baldwin Hills Community Church, St Paul’s Presbyterian left its home on Jefferson and 3rd for a new building designed by Robert E. Alexander at Coliseum Street and La Brea Avenue. The Westminster Presbyterian Church took over the future landmark, moving a few blocks from their headquarters at 35th Place and Denker Avenue on land they had bought back in 1906.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

The Westminster Presbyterian Church got its official start in Los Angeles on October 9, 1904, when seventeen worshippers who had been holding services in the Central Presbyterian Church were “received by confession of faith and examination.” Twelve days later, the church was officially reported to and enrolled in the L.A. Presbytery.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

When it dedicated its church building – built the previous summer – in March 1908, Westminster Presbyterian was the sole all-black Presbyterian congregation in the west. It’s minister in charge, the Reverend E.P. Baker, was also the west’s only African-American minister. The Reverend Robert W. Holman became the congregation’s first official pastor later that year. In 1912, Rev. Hampton B. Hawes succeeded him, retiring after nearly half a century of service in 1958. Subsequent Westminster pastors included Reverends James E. Jones, Oliver L. Brown, and Glenn Jones. The current pastor is the Reverend Virginia Brown.

Westminster Presbyterian Church


“Colored People Finance Well.” The Los Angeles Times; Mar 9, 1908, p. I5

“To Build Church.” The Los Angeles Times; Oct 2, 1921, p. V2

“To Worship in New Homes” The Los Angeles Times; Mar 17, 1923, p. II2

“Dr. Briegleb at New Post”; The Los Angeles Times; Oct 2, 1926, p. A2

“Charles Crawford Joins Church of Dr. Briegleb” The Los Angeles Times; Jul 1, 1930, p. A1

“Crawford’s Latest Gift Announced” The Los Angeles Times; Nov 3, 1930, p. A1

Southwest Builder and Contractor; Dec 5, 1930, p. 49

“Briegleb Congregation to Build” The Los Angeles Times; Jan 5, 1931, p. A9

“Schuler Scored by Dr. Briegleb” The Los Angeles Times; Jan 20, 1931, p. A1

“Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord” The Los Angeles Times; May 16, 1931, p. A8

“Briegleb’s New Church Dedicated” The Los Angeles Times; May 18, 1931, p. A1

“Crawford and Writer Victims of Assassin” The Los Angeles; May 21, 1931, p. 1

“Victims of Assassins’ Bullets” The Los Angeles Times; May 21, 1931, p. 2

“Crawford Likened to Matthew” The Los Angeles Times; May 25, 1931, p. 2

“Books of Murder Victims Examined” The Los Angeles Times; May 27, 1931, p. 2

“Presbytery Officials to Dedicate Building” The Los Angeles Times; Oct 1, 1949, p. A3

“Ex-L.A. Attorney Held in Slaying” The Los Angeles Times; Nov 12, 1953, p. 1

Up next: Villa Maria

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