Friday, October 11, 2013

The Women at Hollywood and Highland

Landmarks near and along Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue bear stories about several women and the impact of their lives upon this area.

Mary Highland Price

She was married to a Cahuenga blacksmith, Thomas Walter Price.  Cahuenga was what the area was called when the couple settled out here sometime after 1887 but prior to 1889 (the "Highland" street name was referenced in an 1889 issue of the Cahuenga Valley Sentinel newspaper.)

Their bio:  Thomas Price (b. 1863) married in 1887 in Missouri to Mary Highland (b. 1865, Illinois).  At the flatlands of today's Hollywood (Highland & Fountain Avenues) stood their house.  Then their extended family moved out west - Mary's in-laws came from Missouri about 1896 - father-in-law Samuel W. Price bought a lemon orchard in Cahuenga.

There is only a morsel of a clue to the character of Mary, or Mrs. T.W. Price, from an 1894 Los Angeles Times article reporting her participation in the Epworth League (a Methodist young adult association founded in 1889).

A 1900 Cahuenga Suburban newspaper advertised Mary's sister-in-law Kate Mosby, who made a living as a "fashionable dressmaker" at the house.

Mary died in 1901 and became the first interred at the newly established Hollywood Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever).  The blog Hollywoodland has photos of her gravestone and more historical research.  The blog indicates that city fathers established a main thoroughfare in her honor, however, perhaps what they did was extend the existing Highland road northward, i.e. extended to cross Prospect Avenue (Prospect had not yet been renamed Hollywood Boulevard).

Widower Thomas continued in the blacksmith trade.  He opened a blacksmith and carriage shop at Cahuenga near Selma Avenue in 1903 under Price & Whitmore.  He was buried at the same cemetery following his death in 1940.

Highland Avenue's stature grew as a significant thoroughfare when in 1904 the school officials chose the northwest corner of Sunset and Highland for the new high school.

Some Notes on the Hollywood Place Name
  • 1887 was the same year that Harvey Wilcox filed a real estate subdivision with the county recorder.
  • The "Hollywood" name would not become "official" until a new post office was established at the Sackett Hotel in November 1897.
Courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research (GPF.1109)

Bessie Love

At 6777 Hollywood Boulevard, near the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, is a star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Bessie Love whose first acting appearances were on the silent screen.  Her actual name being Juanita Horton (b. 1898-1986, Midland, Texas), she came to Hollywood about 1908 with her family.  After high school, she met D.W. Griffith, which led to bit parts in his films The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916).  He reinvented her name, purportedly because no one on the East coast could pronounce "Juanita".

She eked out a long acting career (143 credits on IMDB) with her final film in 1983.  By the 1970s she had moved to London.

Courtesy of the Seaver Center (P-026-62-19)
Christine Stevenson

Patroness of the Philadelphia Little Theater movement, founder of the Philadelphia Art Alliance Association and member of the Theosophical Society, Stevenson came to Hollywood in 1918 to sponsor "Light of Asia" by Sir Edwin Arnold in the natural setting of Krotona nearby in Beachwood Canyon (site of the local branch of the Theosophical Society.)

Subsequently she and others organized to find a bigger and better natural amphitheater, eventually incoporating the Theatre Arts Alliance in May of 1919.  A canyon at Highland Avenue was purchased, but funding issues created a schism in the organization.  Stevenson and her supporters found a different site where The Pilgrimage Play was performed from 1920 through the 1940s (interrupted by fire in 1929 and rebuilt; the John Ansen Ford Theater is here today.)  Stevenson only briefly saw the fruits of her labor, as she passed away in 1922.

Artie Mason Carter

Mrs. J.J. Carter (Artie Mason Carter, b. 1881, Salisbury, Missouri) stepped in to help the Theatre Arts Alliance after Stevenson receded.  She previously formed the Hollywood Community Chorus.  She brought the first Easter Sunrise Service to the canyon at Highland Avenue, the future Hollywood Bowl site, and she is regarded as the Mother of the Hollywood Bowl.

Carter shown with her husband and unidentified man.
Courtesy of the Seaver Center (GPF.2260)
Daeida Wilcox Beveridge - a Side Note

The wife of the Harvey Wilcox is credited with the naming of the subdivision, Hollywood.  Wilcox Avenue was where the couple's home was situated and now is a side street without the world-renown of Highland, despite the prominent Daeida's philanthropic contributions to early Hollywood.

Daeida Wilcox Beveridge
Courtesy of the Seaver Center (P-077)

1904 - Cattle and Urban Hollywood Didn't Mix

Reported July 3rd, 1904 in the L.A. Times:

"Stampede of Cattle.  As a herd of 200 cattle belonging to the L. Sentous Packing Company was approaching the car line on Highland avenue today a driver attempted to stop it while a car passed.  The cattle became frightened and stampeded over the lawn of the Bank of Hollywood and left it a total wreck.  The marshal was summoned and the foreman taken in custody for violating the city ordinance regulating the driving of cattle in the city which went into effect today."