Monday, January 19, 2009

No. 207 - Fonnell House

Fonnell House

Fonnell House
c. 1899
1334 Kellam Avenue – map
Declared: 1/17/79

Okay. So we’ve visited all but one of Carroll Avenue’s Historic-Cultural Monument homes in Angeleno Heights (as I’m writing this, there’s one more to go, at No. 399). Now it’s time to go one street north to Kellam Avenue. The homes here are much more hit and miss; some buildings are in poorer shape, either in disrepair or “renovated” feloniously. However, there are some real gems to be found on Kellam – like this one, built around 1899 for painter John Fonnell.

Fonnell House

Fonnell bought Lot 16 of Block 5 in Angeleno Heights for $450 in gold coins in 1899. (Fonnell – if it’s the same guy – has the distinction of having owned two L.A. landmarks. For more on Fonnell’s penchant for paying in gold pieces, go to this nice piece on his buying Monument No. 724, the Venice of America Home.) Here are a few Fonnell notes from the Los Angeles Times:
  • Licensed to Wed. John Fonnell, a native of Germany, aged 30, and Emma Johnson, a native of Sweden, aged 31, both of Los Angeles. (7/28/1896)
  • IS NOW A CITIZEN. John Fonnell, a native of Germany, was admitted to citizenship by Judge Allen in Department Six yesterday. (1/30/1897)
  • A $3000 residence has begun at No. 1328 Kellam avenue [sic] for John Fonnell. (8/24/1903)
That Fonnell was from Germany and his bride from Sweden would make a lot sense, looking at the landmark today. I know the guidebooks and such say this is late Queen Anne architecture with Colonial Revival elements (i.e. the six-columned porch), but the cottage, with its flower and garland over the bay view window, wouldn’t be too out of place in small, German village, no?

Fonnell House

Louis Jacobson, his wife, Minnie, and daughter, Jeanette, from Massachusetts moved into 1334 Kellam in 1915. Jeanette died in 1974 at age 87. The 1939 household census below, from USC’s Digital Archive shows two people living in the six-room cottage.

1334 Kellam Avenue Household Census

Nino and Amelia Guerrero bought the home in 1976. If you’ve heard of Nino, it’s probably as “the Latin Magician”. He won the 1969 Grand Prix of Magic.

One of the coolest things (to me, at least) about HCM No. 207 is it wasn’t the Guerreros who petitioned the city for the home’s landmark status, it was of neighbor of theirs – artist/author Leo Politi. He was one of the Heights’ (and L.A.’s) biggest boosters, living just a few doors away at 945 East Edgeware (HCM No. 218). Everything I hear about Politi just makes me like him that much more.

Thanks to local historian Tom Morales for his research providing a chunk of the information in this post.

Fonnell House


Marriage Announcement 1 (No Title) The Los Angeles Times; Jul 28, 1896, p. 12

“Flotsam and Jetsam.” The Los Angeles Times; Jan 30, 1897, p. 14

“Angeleno Heights” The Los Angeles Times; Aug 24, 1903, p. 5

Up next: Bernard Residence and Carriage House


Anonymous said...

I've never visited Carroll street as an adult (although I'm sure I did as a child). “Renovated feloniously" is a funny way of putting it. Are all the homes on this street older homes? Now that I know the address of Leo Politi I want to make a visit. Great Post as is the norm. Pretty in Pink.

Anonymous said...

I know the last surviving member of the Fonnell family. She would be John Fonnell's granddaughter. She is somewhat reclusive and lives in Venice. Her father was John Jr and he owned a paint store on Abbot Kinney Bl (formerly West Washington Bl in Venice) up until the late 70s.
There is a great photo of the 2 Johns Jr and Sr in a boat in front of their home on Cabrillo Ave which was back in the day when many of the Venice streets were canals. Both her parents and her only sibling a brother have passed away.