Monday, May 12, 2008
5905 El Mio Drive, Highland Park – map
Here’s an old Victorian Queen Anne mansion built for Judge David P. Hatch in 1887.
David Patterson Hatch was born in Dresden, Maine, in 1846. He graduated from the Maine Wesleyan Seminary in 1871 and from the University of Michigan Law School a year later. In 1874, Hatch married Ida Stilphin. He practiced law in Minnesota for a while, then moved to California in 1875, settling in Santa Barbara where he became a Superior Court judge for the county. Relocating to Los Angeles, his first trial was the one in which a teenage Louise Perkins sued 59-year-old Lucky Baldwin for breach of promise (she was awarded $75,000 but, facing a re-trial, settled for $12,000). Hatch moved to British Columbia in 1900 when his health failed, but returned to L.A. five years later. He died of Bright’s Disease in 1912.
Hatch wrote a few books including Scientific Occultism, a Text Book of the Christian Hermit Philosophers and The Blood of the Gods, a book on temperance. If remembered at all, Hatch may be best known for sending “a hopeful message of life and growth” – FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.
The El Mio mansion is named the Smith Estate for a series of Smiths who, beginning in the mid 1890s, lived there through a big chunk of the 20th century. There was railroad man Charles and his wife, Louise, along with Emma (a 1929 city directory lists her as a decorator), Bethene C., and, until his death in 1958, Charles and Louise's son, Dr S. Quay Smith (“What’s the diagnosis, Dr Smith?” “Oh, the pain! The pain!”)
A Shane and later a Padilla took up residence there, but only after 1964. That’s when William Wise was living there. It’s also the year director Jack Hill filmed the classic Spider Baby at the old house of Hatch. You can see a trailer with exterior shots of the mansion below. Warning: it’s the Maddest Story Ever Told.
Skip to the mid-1970s when Louis and Nora Peters were the residents as the home was declared a city landmark. In 1988, the city’s then deputy mayor, Michael Gage, and his wife, Lacey, bought the home. The current owner has resided here since the late 1990s.
Okay. I’m no great shakes with the ol’ Brownie (well, actually, shaking is part of the equation), but this house is very tough to photograph without lumbering around the private land. Obscured by a few trees, it’s perched well up on a Highland Park hill. While this is a drag for photographers, that perching must have provided stunning views of the San Gabriel Mountains, over the Arroyo, and down toward the city around the turn of the last century. My guess is those views are still pretty good. And the house itself appears in great shape.
I’ll close with a truly good shot of the house, from the Department of City Planning website.
“Noted Jurist Answers Call.” Los Angeles Times; Feb 22, 1912, p. II8
Up next: 6028 Hayes Avenue