Monday, July 16, 2007

No. 45 - Mooers House

Wright-Mooers House

Mooers House
818 South Bonnie Brae Street – map
Declared: 2/8/67

Hey, check out this still sweet Victorian, tucked behind a Subway at the corner of 8th and South Bonnie Brae Streets in Westlake.

The declaration plaque on site calls the Mooers House “A Prototype of Distinctive Architecture of the Boom of the 80’s”. Now, I’m no expert, but I remember the 80s, and between watching Hill Street Blues and listening to A Flock of Seagulls, I never saw houses like this being put up.

Wright-Mooers House

According to Paul Gleye’s 1981 The Architecture of Los Angeles and McGrew and Julian’s Landmarks of Los Angeles, this house was built for Frederick Mitchell Mooers, filthy rich from co-discovering the Yellow Aster gold mine up in Randsburg, CA.

But I’m questioning this. Gebhard and Winter’s Los Angeles: An Architectural Guide refers to the house as the Wright-Mooers House. And a December 24, 1898, Los Angeles Times list of real estate transfers from two days earlier has this mention: “May Gertrude Wright and F L Wright to Frederick M Mooers, lot 4 and part 5, block F, Bonnie Brae tract, $5200.”

Now, this would lead you to think that the Wrights were the builders of the house, not Mooers, right? Further, Mooers probably couldn’t have afforded $5200 prior to his having discovered gold in 1895 (he had been primarily prospecting for a dozen years).

Does anyone know a way to get the correct answer to who built this landmark?

Wright-Mooers House

The house later became part of a court case when Mooers’s wife, Frances, contested his will after his sudden death in 1900. She claimed his mind had been “weakened by the excess and dissipation of strong drink” when he made out his will, giving the brunt of his estate to his mother and the three brothers who were also living at the Bonnie Brae house at the time.

Wright-Mooers House

The Gleye book says the house is primarily Queen Anne with “a hint of the Moorish in the cupola and arches above the windows.” Shouldn’t that be, in this case, Mooersish? Get it? Because the guy’s name was Mooers?

Wright-Mooers House

The Mooers House is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Up next: Central Library Building


Brady Westwater said...

The Wrights built the house so they get first billing, but Mooers was the most prominent of the future owners - and a much longer term - owner, so he gets second billing.

Unknown said...

You might be interested in this historic picture of the Wright-Mooers home from the Los Angeles Public Library Historic Image Database

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

You're right, Bridgid, I am interested. I hadn't seen that one. Thanks for the tip.

Unknown said...

Here is the database entry

and here is a later photo circa 1981