Thursday, December 13, 2007

No. 95 - Rindge House

Rindge House

Rindge House
1903 – Frederick L. Roehrig
2263 South Harvard Boulevard – map
Declared: 2/23/72

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.

Rindge House

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.

Rindge House

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

Rindge House

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.

Rindge House

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.

Rindge House
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.

Rindge House

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?

Rindge House


“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


honeywoney said...

Your blog is so interesting. Thank you for your efforts to share these landmarks! I didn't see an address for this Rindge House on Adams - do you have the street address so that I might do a drive-by please?

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Hi, and thanks, Honeywoney. The address - and map - are at the top of the post: 2263 South Harvard. It's a great-looking place, you should enjoy it.

honeywoney said...

der... I see it now! On Harvard not Adams. I'll hit AAA on Adams, then cruise by the Rindge house.

Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great blogsite. I'm a native Angeleno, knew about some but have discovered a lot more.

My great-aunt's father was in charge of building Pacific Coast Hwy. through Malibu in the early 1900s...which was made a lot harder when Rhoda May Rindge and her cowboys used to ride down from the hills on horseback and shoot at them with rifles!

And of course, our local Adohr Milk from their dairies is Rhoda spelled backwards.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I hope your great-aunt's father gave Rhoda and her gang as good as they got.

Anonymous said...

I once worked with a gentleman in Pasadean by the name of Rindge Shima, who was the son of George Shima, the "Potatoe King" in the Stockton area in the early 1900s. Rindge told me that his father named him after the Rindge family in Stockton because this father had great admiration for the Rindge family who apparently lived close to, if not next to, the Shima home. Would you know of any relationship between the Shima and Rindge families? I was just wondering if maybe it was the home of Frederick H. Rindge.

Robert Lance said...

I was born in this house October 3rd 1929. My great Aunt was a nurse and my Mother and I lived here until late in 1930. There was a swimming pool located on the 2nd floor and Mrs Rindge had a Chinese cook and a
Filipino gardener. She owned a Dusenberg and my Aunt would drive her to San Francisco to shop. I have many pictures of her and my family....

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thank you so much for commenting, Robert. If you're interested in sharing any old photos (that is, if you have any) of the Rindge House, I would be grateful to add them.

Robert Lance said...

Sorry about the info I posted on the Rindge house....The one I was born in was in Stockton CA. located on North Eldorado and Harding way. It was torn down and commercial buildings now occupy the corner. I will try and upload a picture of the house..Mr Rindge also owned an Island in Sacramento Delta....It is still show on area maps as the Rindge tract..He raised Asparagus and he built a school house on the property for workers children..I also have a picture of Fred Mae Rindge. taken just prior to his death in 1905.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was just reading your blog and was curious...some one mentioned to me about a house in Hancock Park being moved from one location to another...they thought it might be the Van Nuys house...? (Also designed by Roehing.) Do you have any info on this? Thanks!

Mike said...

I lived inthis house in the 1980's. Stan King owned then and saw several movies shot there. First lived out back in servant quarters and then moved to main house after Stan killed himself in the basement. The saying above the fireplace in main room reads "California shall be ours as long as the stars remain". I could tell some real good things about the house.Can anyone with info to who takes care of the house now please contact me at I now live in Canton,Ohio. Would really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous, I am the late Rindge Shima's granddaughter. He lived in Stockton and later Berkley as a young man. I'm interested to find out more about the connection between the Rindge and Shima families as well.

Dick Eckardt said...

Anon. wrote about a house in Hancock Park moved from one location to another. I was visiting Sam Rindge at his home on Plymouth (circa 1982). Sam mentioned that this was originally the home of John O'Melveny. Sam purchased it and had house movers bring it to its present location on Plymouth. He pointed out to me some joinery in the wood floor, which did not quite line up, but you never would have noticed had he not pointed that out to me. He was a splendid guy and I'm sorry that he is gone now.

Lori Rindge Thornton said...

I am the last survivor of the Rindge estate. I was supposed to be a boy, but unfortunately- didn't happen. My father is the last surviving male. Fred Rindge is his great, great grandfather. Never met- of course, my father was born in 1942. Story is- from family history- Fred ( named a New England town ) became very wealthy. He owned Malibu, he passed away, and his wife sold the land to someone for a small price today, but large price today. When I made a visit to SoCal-- I felt like I had been there before, even though I never had been there. I knew the streets, the surroundings, it was just weird. Just a detailed encounter and history. Malibu paper won't respond to me with my story. I thought it was great history.

Richard Gellis said...

I very much enjoy being a resident of the neighborhood. I am in the brick front 1908 Swiss Chalet motif designed by Frank M. Taylor that was at one time the residence of Jesse Owens I am in Harvard Heights on West Cambridge at East Oxford

Anonymous said...

I just came from my annual family gathering and we had discussed the Rindge Estate because my brother-in-law had made a picture of our 1944 Christmas gathering at the estate. My grandparents, Irwin and Mable Moon lived in the estate for a number of years, as care takers. The estate was still fully furnished with a "gold" room where all the furniture, even the piano, were painted gold. The music room had a harp, player piano and other instruments. It was quite an adventure, as an eight year old, to stay with my grandparents. Years later my husband and I went through the estate when it was empty and on the market for sale. J. Adams

Susan said...

I would loove to see where Jessie Owens once lived! I live not far from Harvard Heights and area has always facinated me.

Anonymous said...

doing research on rindge family and the adams district historical house. looking for any photos of house inside and outside from time built about 1903 to 1940's when widow died and left rindge family. barryfisher

Anonymous said...

to j. adamds who posted 1/30/16 any photos include piano? just received piano from a rindge descendant apparently bought by frederick hastings rindge for the rindge house.wonder if piano shows up in photos you refer to. barryfisher

jpolito said...

Frederick Hastings Rindge mentioned a Redondo Beach Home in Happy Days of Southern California . Do you know how many and where all of their homes were in Los Angeles area?


Missing my Grandparents said...

My grandfather, Stanford King, committed suicide in the basement of the Rindge House in west LA back in 1978. He did this a few months after my grandmother Marie, died in his arms on New Years Eve after 52 wonderful years of marriage. May God grant them both everlasting peace.