Thursday, January 10, 2008
Forthmann House and Forthmann Carriage House
1880s – Burgess J. Reeve
2801 South Hoover Boulevard (house) – map
812 East Edgeware Road (carriage house) – map
If you’re interested in visiting all of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 103, you’ve got some driving to do.
Sometime in the 1880s, Burgess J. Reeve designed a 4,200 square foot, eleven-room Victorian mansion for John A. Forthmann. Forthmann, a German immigrant, had made his money from founding and running the Los Angeles Soap Co. The business, most famous for its White King brand (“It takes so little”), at one point covered about sixteen acres of downtown. Forthmann died in 1922.
In the shot just above, from USC's Digital Archive and taken around 1900, John Forthmann is one of the guys in the buggy. Probably the cleanest one. Because he was in the soap business.
Different references mention different styles of the house, but mainly as a mix of Italianate and Eastlake. The house, along with its carriage house, stood at 629 West 18th Street, just off Figueroa.
Flash forward a century. In 1989, about seventeen years after its designation as a city landmark (and about a year after the Los Angeles Soap Co. finally closed its doors), the house was picked up and relocated to its current location on Hoover. According to Historic Places in Los Angeles County, published in 1978 by the Historical Society of Southern California, several additions had been made to the second floor at some point. Today the home – one of the oldest in the city – is the headquarters for USC’s Real Estate Development Corp.
I hope you're sitting down, because here's a shot of the back of the building.
The bad news? When the house was relocated, the Forthmann Carriage House was left behind. The good news? Sixteen years later, in 2005, the carriage house, officially part of HCM 103, was saved from demolition when it was moved, in the opposite direction of its old partner, to 812 East Edgeware Road in Angelino Heights. It stands there today, fairly well stripped and awaiting restoration. If anyone can tell me why it’s perched so high up on stilts, please do. Maybe just waiting for a foundation, I reckon.
Oh. Below is a picture of the house and carriage house's original location, on West 18th Street. The site's about one block south of the Santa Monica Freeway and one block east of the Harbor Freeway. Somewhat ironic, as Forthmann insisted using a horse and buggy until the day he died. You can bet he'd be really thrilled if he were alive today. Really thrilled, and really old.
Up next: Cole's P.E. Buffet/Pacific Electric Building