Monday, May 12, 2008

No. 142 - Smith Estate

Smith Estate

Smith Estate
5905 El Mio Drive, Highland Park – map
Declared: 4/16/75

Here’s an old Victorian Queen Anne mansion built for Judge David P. Hatch in 1887.

Smith Estate

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.

Smith Estate
Smith Estate

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.

Smith Estate
Smith Estate

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!”)

Smith Estate

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.

Smith Estate

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.

Smith Estate

I’ll close with a truly good shot of the house, from the Department of City Planning website.

Smith Estate


“Noted Jurist Answers Call.” Los Angeles Times; Feb 22, 1912, p. II8

Up next: 6028 Hayes Avenue


Anonymous said...

This home is actually currently owned by my parents! You've got some amazing photos, and I'm actually currently working on a scrapbook on the history of the house, I don't suppose I could get the high resolution photos to use for it? In exchange I'd happily answer any questions you might have about the house now. I notice for instance you don't have any information on the fire we had back in 2001.

Thanks in advance!

Valerie Parker

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Will do, Valerie. I'll get in touch with you through your livejournal page. Thanks for the comment (and your parents have a beautiful home).

Anonymous said...

Oh, its beautiful!
the pictures and the video, i love Victorian homes, they are so classy and unique. My grandmother had a Victorian home and that's when my obsession with them started.


Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Thanks for the comment, Jamey. Cheers right back at you.

Mari Pritchard Parker said...

There will be a house tour Nov 28th 2010 12:00-6:00 ticket can be purchased in advance at or at the door...m

Helen said...

The cast of Spider Baby the Musical (playing now through December 5th at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre in Silverlake) are organizing a group to visit the "Merrye House" on the 28th. We can't contain our excitement!

Vinnie Rattolle said...

Couple things... When "Spider Baby" was shot in 1964, the house was vacant and had no electricity. Cast and crew members recalled an instance where sunlight had to be bounced through the house with mirrors to light Mantan Moreland, who was hovering inside the window.

The house went on to be used again to similar effect in 1976 (and again in 1977) for the thriller "The Silent Scream," which was finally released in 1980. At that time, the house was a hippie hangout. On the DVD features for the film, writers/producers and brothers Ken and Jim Wheat vaguely recall the tenants and reminisce about meeting David Hatch's then-elderly daughter.

Vinnie Rattolle said...

Shoulda known I was gonna screw that up. The house was only used in '77 for "Silent Scream," replacing the original location.

Anonymous said...

The house will be open for tours Nov 25th 12-5... call 213 309 8854 for more details...m

Elias said...

There was also a kinda afterschool kids special movie made there which also had inside and out of my parents house at 5650 hub st. in it. I remember watching it as a kid but cant find the name of it. If you can help or know the movie Id be very happy.

Pamela Parizo said...

I remember this house! When I was a kid in Highland Park, we lived on the hill on Aldama, and we could see the house from there. Although a nice house, it had a sense of foreboding to an 8 year old, especially when we heard Lon Chaney was filming a movie there!

ebarker said...

I use to walk by this house routinely on El Mio dr. My best friend lived on that street. One year I wrote a story about the haunting on El Mio. As a child of the sixties and seventies it was so creepy. I do not recall anyone about the house and it looked very run down and abandoned. Thanks for the memories of Highland park and the "house at 5905 el mio drive" ellen Barker (Kennedy)

Lindsay Blake said...

@Elias Leyva - Do you remember anything about the movie? Anything about the plot, actors, or maybe year it was filmed? I can try to figure it out if so. :)