1903 – Frederick L. Roehrig
2263 South Harvard Boulevard – map
This Chateauesque mansion was first the home for land developer, Methodist, businessman, philanthropist, and author Frederick Hastings Rindge. Unfortunately, Rindge didn’t get to live here too long, dying in the summer of 1905 at the age of 48, about two years after the home was completed.
Born in Cambridge, MA, in 1857, Frederick Rindge attended Harvard, later inheriting a ton of dough when his father died in the early 1880s. He married a school teacher from Michigan, Rhoda May Knight, and moved out to Los Angeles in 1887. Five years later, he became the final owner of the entire Rancho Malibu Spanish Land Grant, named Rancho Topanga Malibu Simi Sequit or “Malibu Rancho”. At the time of his death, the L.A. Times reported the Rindge Ranch, devoted mainly to raising sheep, had grown to about 20,000 acres, stretching to a mile wide at some points. The ranch house, though, had burned down in 1903, and Rindge never got the chance to rebuild.
A bunch of stuff about Frederick H. Rindge:
- he built the Rindge Block at the northeast corner of Third and Broadway downtown
- was president of the Maclay Rancho and Water Company, opening up thousands of acres for settlement in the San Fernando Valley
- was president of L.A.’s Harvard Club, helping his Crimson classmate Teddy Roosevelt get elected to the presidency
- was a staunch teetotaler, even building the Prohibition Congregational Church in Santa Monica (where he also had a home on Ocean Avenue)
- subdivided a large part of West Adams
- founded the Conservative Life Insurance Company (now Pacific Life); co-founded the Union Oil Company and the Los Angeles Edison Electric Company (later the Southern California Edison Company)
- was instrumental in the development of Stockton, CA
- as part of the Beach Land Company, bought up just about all of the town of Port Ballona and some adjacent property, subdividing it as Playa del Ray
The Rindge House’s architect, Fredrick L. Roehrig, also designed a few other city monuments, including the Durfee House (No. 230), the Stimson House (No. 456), and the Department of Water and Power (No. 558). However, his most notable work is probably Castle Green in Pasadena.
Dubbed the “Queen of Malibu”, Rindge’s widow, May, lived in the city home until her death in February, 1941. She also remained a controversial figure in Malibu, keeping the Southern Pacific Railroad out of the area by building her own narrow-guage line on the ranch, and, until 1925, by preventing the state from running the Pacific Coast Highway (then called the Roosevelt Highway) through her property. Oh, and Malibu’s Adamson House was built by Rindge’s daughter, Rhoda, and her husband, Merritt.
The Rindge House, circa a long time ago.
After May’s death, the South Harvard home was used as convent and a maternity home. Today, the Rindge House, along with its old carriage house and storage building, is privately owned, with a law practice operating out of the first floor. It’s also part of Murray Circle, named for Dr Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, pastor of the First A.M.E. Church (across the street) from 1977 to 2004.
Special thanks to the folks at the West Adams Heritage Association who pointed me in the right direction for the information on Frederick Rindge and his L.A. home.
Yeah, yeah. I know this post is long enough, but I should also mention Rindge, in 1898, published a book, Happy Days in Southern California. It’s a booster-book, for sure, with a decidedly pastoral slant. Typical is the following paragraph:
“I do not like Southern California, because the seasons are not distinctly marked,” said an Eastern misanthrope one day. “There is too much sameness in your climate,” the same party continued. “True,” I replied; “we have no frozen water pipes, no March slush, no interruptions from elementary causes to travel, to telegraphing, or to commerce, save a few washouts of a day; we have no Oklahoma cyclones, our barns are not commonly struck by lightning, our citizens are not prostrated by sunstroke in August, our hats are not smashed by falling ice from high buildings in winter thaws; but all the same we have a very reasonable climate.” And as to ‘sameness,’ which you allege, why, our seasons have great variety.Eastern misanthrope. Will a day go by now that I don’t use that one?
“A Grand Man Gone.” Los Angeles Times; Aug 30, 1905, p. I6
“Mrs. Rindge, of Malibu Ranch, taken by Death” Los Angeles Times; Feb 9, 1941, p. A1
Up next: Storer House