c. 1903 – Oliver P. Dennis and Lyman Farwell
767 Garland Avenue – map
Man, you really need to keep your eyes open when you’re looking for this place, about a block away from the 8th Street exit off the Harbor Freeway. I mean, just compare the two pictures below, the first (from the Department of City Planning website) taken probably in the mid-1970s around designation, the second from a few weeks ago.
I’m all for trees, but this is out of control. Also, you figure it gets even denser in the summer months. But, trust me, there’s an old, gorgeous building hiding in there.
A 1994 listing put out by the L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission reports oil executive Charles C. L. Leslie had architects Oliver P. Dennis and Lyman Farwell design this Queen Anne mansion for him around the turn of the last century. (The boys are also responsible for a couple of other city landmarks, including Hollywood Boulevard’s Janes House, No. 227. And Dennis designed No. 406, the Magic Castle.) However, Gebhard and Winter, in Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide, say the firm actually created 767 Garland for Oliver P. Dennis himself.
What’s clearer is that while 767 Garland was home to Charles C. L. in 1929 per the city directory, the 1936 edition has a Charles S. C. and Catherine Leslie living there, giving his occupation as a rancher. Charles C.L. Leslie died in January 1937.
There’s a Los Angeles Times article from February 1896 which lays out a lawsuit between Charles C.L. Leslie and his partner, George M. Bobst (the partnership, said the Times, had “turned to gall and bitterness”). It sorta looks like Charles may’ve tried to screw over George after an oil strike, but the whole thing was too tedious for me to get into.
Gebhard and Winter give 1910 as the construction date for the home. ZIMAS says the 1,100-square-foot structure was built in 1903. The former’s got to be wrong, as a 1906 Sanborn map shows the house along with what must’ve been a whole row of mansions. (I would’ve liked to have seen the house that once stood next door at 749; it was even bigger on a substantial plot of land.) One more thing ZIMAS says about 767 is it’s a single residence today, which I have hard time believing.
I stopped by the landmark twice. The first time, an early Sunday morning, two homeless guys, Tom and Greg, were there to greet me. Greg was more than happy to give me a quick tour of the exterior. Not only did he point out where folks would make deliveries around back, but he also revealed the cement pit he said was once a moat filled with alligators.
Greg and the moat.
I handed Greg a few bucks for him and Tom to grab some pancakes or something. However, I ran into Tom there the following weekend. He let me know Greg bogarded my handout. Still, a friendly docent, that Greg.
“A Little Hogging Game” Los Angeles Times; Feb 28, 1896, p. 9
Los Angeles Times; Jan 26, 1937, p. A20
Up next: Samuel-Novarro House