Bernard Residence and Carriage House
1902 – John Parkinson
845 South Lake Street – map
Today Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument is the Casa Libre/Freedom House, “an emergency and long-term shelter for minors without homes, including unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children.” The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Inc., bought the landmark in 1996, opening a shelter there for homeless children in 2002.
John Parkinson designed this two-story, thirty-five-room mansion for Mrs Susana Merchao de Bernard in 1901. Susana was born February 8, 1839 in Los Angeles. Her dad, Augustin Machado, and his brother, Ygnacio, along with the brothers Talamentes laid claim in 1820-1821 to the 14,000-acre Spanish land grant Rancho La Ballona, now Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, and parts of Culver City. Now, going back even further, Augustin’s pop was Jose Manuel Machado. Jose came to Southern California in 1781, and, following Governor Felip de Neve, was one of the forty-four pobladores who hoofed it from the San Gabriel Mission on September 4, 1781, to found Our Fair City, El Pueblo de la Reina de los Ángeles. Good bragging rights for Susana, like if your great(x18)-granddad came over on the Mayflower.
Susana Merchado married rich Swiss-French businessman Jean Bernard on November 27, 1865. Bernard died in 1889 at the age of 64, leaving Susana and eleven children (not all of whom were his widow’s).
Grape leaf motif.
From a 1906 Sanborn fire insurance map. Bernard Residence at bottom, center.
Parkinson created this 10,000 square-foot mansion – along with its carriage house – with elements of Gothic, Art-Nouveau, and Moorish styles, situated on Ninth Street fronting South Lake Street. The house cost the widow Bernard $50,000. (Don’t forget: John Parkinson, alone and with partners, is all over the list of the city’s Historic-Cultural Monuments like white is all over rice – Union Station, the L.A. Athletic Club, Bullock’s Wilshire, and City Hall to name but four.) The contractor on the Bernard residence was John Rebman.
In April 1902, a front-page L.A. Times article reported:
“The entrance is across a spacious recessed porch, and through massive doors into a reception hall, 20x20 feet. On the first floor is a library, 22x22 feet; a drawing room 19x24 feet; a sitting-room, den, two dining-rooms, the principal one of which is oval and 18x27 feet, and a kitchen and refrigerator room.
On the second floor are ten bedchambers arranged both singly and en suite, with staeionary [sic] marble-top washstands and similar conveniences for each; and two bathrooms.
The attic contains rooms for servants.
The basement contains a gymnasium, 20x50 feet; a billiard-room 21x20; a wine room, bathroom, storage-room and furnace-room. The building heated by hot air, which is conveyed from the furnace-room to different parts of the house by pipes, and the temperature is regulated by registers in the rooms and dampers in the basement. Fireplaces are also provided for the principal rooms of the building, and the massive mantels, with handsomely-carved woodwork, add much to the beauty of the interior decorations. Those in the drawing-room are of exquisite design. Heavy beamed ceilings, handsome art glass windows and decorations that indicate artistic study and cultivated taste without and attempt at ostentatious display give a charming completeness to the interior of the dwelling. The rooms of the first floor are finished in quarter-sawed white oak, birdseye ample and cedar. Those of the second floor are in cedar and Oregon pine, stained to oak. The best arrangements in the way of lighting and ventilating the building are provided, together with the latest modern conveniences, so that the house is not only a beautiful piece of architectural workmanship, but is also a model of substantial comfort and convenience as a dwelling.”
c. 1912 (L.A. Public Library)/2009
Susan Machado de Bernard passed away on April 8, 1907, but the home stayed in the Bernard family until 1962. Subsequent owners included Leslie Grant and Jim and Gloria Gindraux, the couple who had the house designated a city landmark thirty years ago this month.
The carriage house/barn/garage.
As the Susana Machado Bernard House and Barn, the site was added to both the list of California’s Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
“Doings of Builders and Architects.” The Los Angeles Times; Apr 6, 1902, p. A1
Up next: Wilshire Christian Church Building