1913 – George F. Colterison
1230 Bellevue Avenue – map
Okay. Add the proprietors of Bob’s Market to the list of those who do not appreciate my taking photos of their establishment, in this case a city landmark for nearly thirty years now.
In 1913 Ella J. McMillen hired architect George F. Colterison to design for her what would be this one-story, false front, frame structure with slight Mission Revival and Oriental elements. Peter A. Holmberg’s construction costs ran the Widow McMillen $3,500.
The sight was absolutely perfect for a grocery store, located at a six-point intersection in the paths of trolleys, carriages, and pedestrians. Now, at first, the building housed two businesses (and two families). One of the first tenants/shop-owners was Levon Melkonian. He fled the Turks and the Armenian Genocide in 1914, setting up a tailor shop in the 1253 Bellevue half (his wife, Azniv M., joined him five years afterwards). Levon was on the other side of grocer Frank E. Sandberg. Abram and Miriam Kooper bought the grocery half in 1926, establishing a home there the following year. In 1934 the Koopers acquired the dry cleaning business next door from Fred and Nelly Baalberger. Since then, the building’s held a single business.
Kensington Properties bought the landmark on January 11, 1963. Two years later, Bob and Keiko Nimura bought it from Ben Nakone.
Bob’s Market narrowly escaped a devastating six-house fire on the block in August 2003. The blaze left nearly thirty residents homeless.
McGrew and Julian, in their Landmarks of Los Angeles, say Bob’s Market is “unique primarily because it has survived”, but what they don’t say is that Angelino Heights at one time had four local grocery stores, one of which was around till not that long ago.
Even those of us with only a passing knowledge of Angelino Heights remember the B & K Market at the northwest corner of Bellevue and West Edgeware. You can still see the shop’s sign telling us Knudsen is The Very Best (and you can make out the B & K on the sign if you get up really close). Ninety-plus years ago, this grocery was run by a man named Henry M. Reuter. He lived right behind his shop at 1166 West Edgeware.
Henry Reuter’s grocery store / B & K Market
For those of you who can remember back twenty-five years, you might recall the shop at 826 East Edgeware, between Carroll and Kellam. A plaque on the building’s side tells us it was a community store from 1911 to 1984. In 1915, this was the Driggs Bros market. That year, brothers B. Ruggles and John W. were living at nearby 816b East Kensington and 1100 West Kensington, respectively. Here’s the Driggs Bros store today:
The Driggs Bros market
Thirdly – and most obscurely – there was Harry Smookler’s grocery at 954 East Edgeware. Harry bought the land – lot 5, block 11 – from Charlie Stimson in 1906. Smookler also lived here with his family.
Former Harry Smookler store/residence
Poor Harry. Just a few days before Christmas 1912, the neighborhood grocer gave his son, Willie, what the Los Angeles Times called a “slight chastisement”. A sensitive lad, distraught fifteen-year-old Willie subsequently borrowed a pistol from his pal, Waldo Hardeson, who then accompanied his buddy to buy cartridges. The teenage Smookler walked to a nearby vacant lot, stuck the gun in his mouth, and committed suicide. Harry the grocer found the body.
“Houses, Lots and Lands – Review of Building and Development” The Los Angeles Times; Jun 10, 1906, p. V24
“Youthful Pride Causes Tragedy.” The Los Angeles Times; Dec 20, 1912, p. II5
Morales, T.M. “Family Operated Stores Still Stand” Parkside Journal; Jul 25, 1979, p. 1
McGrew, Patrick and Robert Julian Landmarks of Los Angeles Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1994 New York, NY
Rubin, Joel and Monte Morin “Fire Chars Angelino Heights Homes” The Los Angeles Times; Aug 15, 2003
Up next: Hall Residence