Saturday, July 14, 2018

It's Bastille Day...And a Birthday Salute to L.A.'s First Frenchman

Louis Aguste Bauchet was the first Frenchman in Los Angeles, according to historian Helene Demeestere.  She posited while Bauchet was first, "recorded in the city's archives, another vintner, Jean-Louis Vignes, qualifies as the father of French immigration to Los Angeles."1

Bauchet was included on a previous post Beneath Terminal Annex

C.C. de Vere's blog Frenchtown Confidential wonderfully describes the circumstances that brought Bauchet, originally from the Champagne region, to settle in the pueblo of Los Angeles.  Bauchet and many more of his countrymen went to Mexico following the Napoleonic Wars to find work.  There they were hired to fight for independence from Spain, and by 1821 Mexico succeeded.  Bauchet served as an officer and leader.2

de Vere sets straight some dates this blogger overlooked:  Bauchet was born July 17, 1785; he arrived in the pueblo of Los Angeles in 1827; he died in 1847.  These dates reveal that Bauchet was nearly four years old and growing up in a region not far from Paris when the onslaught to the Bastille prison compound occurred on July 14, 1789 to trigger the French Revolution. 

Bauchet harvested grapes for wine in L.A. for 20 years, and lived to see another war (the U.S. War with Mexico) before he passed away.  And the 233rd year of his birth is coming up on July 17th, 2018.

Former French Nationals Chose Sides in the U.S. War with Mexico

By the early 1840s Mexico's grasp onto Alta California was weakening.  Some French sided with the Californios while some eventually fought under General John C. Fremont for the Americans when war broke out in 1846.  Prominent French pioneer Joseph Mascarel, though married to a native Californio, fought with the Americans.3

 Today the County Men's Central Jail faces the intersection of Vignes and Bauchet Streets

The street name originated in this vicinity (north of Cesar Chavez Avenue)
because of Louis Bauchet's vineyards and a later Bauchet tract.
The street was officially named in 1889.

A colorful bail bonds strip mall that evokes the flavor choices of a well-stocked Yogurtland faces Vignes Street.  It is kittycorner to the Men's Central Jail and is by appearances a very pleasant-looking, one-stop shopping place to spring a loved one out of jail.

A view of more bail choices along the side of the mini-mall

Bastille Day in L.A.

Below is the written speech delivered by Antonio Coronel on February 19, 1881.  Coronel was a representative of the city's Hispano-American Benevolent Society as well as former city mayor and California State Treasurer.  He himself arrived with his family in 1834 as part of a colonization group, the Hijar-Padres expedition that set sail from San Blas, Mexico.  (Frenchmen were along with that group, too.)

In the draft in Spanish, the visionary Coronel discussed the anniversary of Bastille and France in general.  Apologies for the lack of a translation:

4-page manuscript courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research,
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The anniversary of the taking of the Bastille was civically recognized a few months later the year of 1881, and eight years later the city celebrated the centennial.

Los Angeles Herald, July 14, 1881
Courtesy of the California Digital Newspaper Collection

For more extensive history on early French individuals in L.A. please visit C.C. de Vere's Frenchtown Confidential, True Stories from the Lost French Community in Los Angeles and the Rest of Southern California.  Noteworthy is her post pointing out artifacts at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County that document numerous French pioneers.

For this blogger's previous stories that contain mentions of French residents:

Beneath Terminal Annex, An L.A. Neighborhood North of Macy Street, which covers Bauchet and also Isaac S.K. Ogier, a descendant of French Huguenots.

Before the Convention Center, the Staples Center, L.A. Live and Football, which covers the Sentous brothers.

The Pellissiers: Wiltern Theater, Dairy Farming, and Hazel the Cow, which covers the Pellissier family.

Marcel and Jeanne's French Cafe in Montebello, Cal.

Beneath Parker Center: the Paris Inn Café, Little Tokyo, Vigilantes & Mexican Immigrants


1  Helene Demeestere, Pioneers and Entrepreneurs, French Immigrants in the Making of L.A., 1827-1927, a FLAX (France Los Angeles eXchange) Exhibition, (Los Angeles, FLAX, 2007), [page 2].

2  Fernand Loyer, Charles Beaudreau and Catherine Beaudreau, Le Guide Francais, ([Place of publication not identified] : [F. Loyer and C. Beaudreau] ; Los Angeles : Distributed by Franco American Pub. Co., 1932), 17.

3  Eloise Thienes Lacy, Contributions of People of French Origin to the Historical Development of the City and County of Los Angeles, a Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of History University of Southern California, [Los Angeles:  University of Southern California, ca. 1948], 49.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Vintage Donuts L.A. on National Doughnut Day 2018

Happy National Doughnut Day!  This posting may be loaded with empty calories, but go ahead and enjoy it with your coffee anyway.

Photographed in year 2000
The former Donut King at 15032 So. Western Avenue, in Gardena, as seen 18 years ago.  It later became Donut King II.

Google Maps image taken January 2018
James Black, of Lower Modernisms (see below) described the blotchy white surface on the big donut as "incomplete frosting."

Another blogger photo of the same donut shop taken in year 2000
761 So. Broadway near 8th, northwest corner, circa 1938-1939
Courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research,
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

The Mayflower Shop served Maxwell House coffee, and the corner neon sign promised to passersby that a cup of it would be "good to the last drop."

A close-up
Courtesy of the Seaver Center
Front and center in the group staff photo offered a donut-inspired saying done in the decorative Arts and Crafts style of the early 20th century:

As you ramble on thru Life, Brother,
Whatever be your Goal,
Keep your Eye upon the Doughnut
And not upon the Hole!

Lastly, attention is brought here to the defunct blog Lower Modernisms, by Architecture Burger.  Blogger and architect James Black organized a biking excursion to the eight great Giant Donuts of Los Angeles in 2016 whereby they visited all eight sites, but the group fell short of consuming donuts at each and every destination.

His final blog post on May 30, 2016 provided a deeper dive into the dough at the Donut Hole, located at 15300 Amar Road in La Puente.

It is too bad he no longer blogs - as this blogger enjoyed his wonderful photography, knowledgeable reportare and architecture lingo.  Perhaps with the conclusion of the hole-y donut pilgrimage - he was fed up.  Puns intended.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Alleys of Downtown L.A.: Infamous, Invisible, Indispensable

Downtown alleys generally do not pique much interest of passersby.  A field investigation of an area bound by 4th, Olive, 7th and Main Streets on May 5th resulted in a bounty of iPhone photos to share. 

A handful of these service roads are up for discussion in this post - some were named for people; another named for some other place.  One alley can be traced back to its opening more than a century past, yet a name has never been assigned.  There is one that is better-known - a remnant from the time a college operated there.  Then there is the one that has the features of an alley but was named a "street" back in 1897.

The alleyways provided relief to drivers in a traffic-clogged downtown.  In 1925 a jewelry store salesman parked his car at 448 Frank Court to dash up to his office, but when he returned thieves had stolen $15,000 worth of gems from his vehicle.  In 1934 there were at least two parking bans - at Lindley Place near 6th and at Werdin Place near 3rd. 

Circled on this 1921 Baist's Real Estate Atlas are 3 alleys to be discussed:
Frank Court, Harlem Place and Werdin Place
Image courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of LA County

Here are definitions of some types of roads according to the L.A. County Department of Regional Planning:

Alley:  a narrow service street for serving rear lots, less than 30 feet in width

Court:  a rectangular pocket off a public way; a dead-end street

Place:  a short street or court

Street:  a public way forty or more feet wide, used to give pedestrian and vehicular traffic access to various parcels of land making up a community.  A public way with a direction contrary to that of the avenues of a community.

*  *  *

Frank Court

Formerly called Angelus Court, it runs from 4th to 5th Streets (between Broadway & Spring Streets). It was re-named in 1917 for Herman Washington Frank, who served on the Board of Education from 1904-1915 and also the City Planning Commission from 1919-1923.  The Frank name is still familiar today along with his business partner Harris (the Harris & Frank Department Store).

The L. Harris Building with the Harris & Frank store at street level (P-10-0028)
Image courtesy of the Seaver Center

Frank Court most likely provided a back entrance to their store located at 437-443 So. Spring Street.

A street sign could not be found for Frank Court.  It is delineated on Google Maps however, shown on a faint overlay on the pavement in the image above taken when a building still existed on the right.

Above and below are recent photos from the morning of May 5th - looking south from 4th Street.  A structure at one time on the right was torn down and a deep hole there marks the rise of a future new building:

Above and below are north-facing views from 5th Street.  The metal fence has become commonplace for alleyway safety and aesthetics.  With the lack of consistent street signage - does this mean these alleys are no longer public thoroughfares?

Frank Court

Lindley Place

Another road existed from 5th to 6th Streets (between Hill & Broadway) named in 1921 for Dr. Walter Lindley.  He lived long enough to see a place name designated for him, then he died the following year. 

"Dr. Lindley's Private Hospital" was his medical practice from 1886 to about 1906 at 315 W. Sixth Street near the alley.  He established many firsts in the city - the Orphans' Home, the College of Medicine at USC, and many other accomplishments enough to fill up a decent size Wikipedia page.  He was also the founder of the Whittier State School - later known as the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility slated to be torn down later this year.

Lindley Place viewed north from 5th Street

A red arrow above indicates the soon-to-be named Lindley Place.
Also circled is the Lindley building
St. Vincent Court (circled in black) will be discussed later below.
1921 Baist's Real Estate Atlas courtesy of the Seaver Center

Mercury Court

As seen on the 1921 Baist's map, Mercury Court appears as service road without a name, but one was given in 1965.

Arrow shows the service road in 1921
Image courtesy of the Seaver Center
The entrance is on 7th Street (between Olive & Hill), but it does not reach all the way up to 6th Street.  The Los Angeles Athletic Club is probably one of the better known establishments serviced by the road.

Mercury Court looking north

St. Vincent's Court

This was the site of St. Vincent's College's second location.  After the college moved down to Washington & Grand, Bullock's Department Store was established, and shoppers could step out of the Hill Street side of the store onto St. Vincent's Court and enter into the adjacent Bullock's building fronting Broadway.

This 1921 survey shows the former St. Vincent road as "Place".
Image courtesy of the Seaver Center

Above pictured along 7th Street (between Hill & Broadway) is a plaque to proclaim historic significance.

The image above was taken in 2010 and shows the fantastical open air yard of the Court.

Harlem Place

This blogger was not able to find an explanation for this place name except that Harlem is a residential and business section of Manhattan, New York.

Formerly called Center Place, the road was eventually established (between Spring & Main) from 1st to 3rd Streets, and from 4th to 7th Streets.  But the road was re-named "Harlem" in 1917.  The segment of Harlem Place from 1st to 2nd Streets was vacated in 1957.

The segment of Harlem Place from 6th to 7th Streets (between Spring & Main) can be clarified - the Los Angeles Times reported in May, 1897 that the city received a petition from George H. Dunlop to establish an alley there.

The following photos track Harlem Place from 4th, then 5th, onto 6th, then at 7th Street a city street sign finally appears:

Beta Main
From 4th Street, a view looking south.  The Beta Main Museum on left

From 5th Street, a view looking north

Close-up of northward view from 5th Street

At 5th Street, a southerly view of the street sign-less Harlem Place

At 6th Street, a view looking north onto Harlem Place

Still on 6th Street, a southbound view onto still sign-less Harlem Place

Down to 7th Street, with a northerly view of Harlem Place

Alas!  A street sign appears along 7th Street!

The same street sign from the opposite view
Harlem Place is halted by a building and comes to an end - at 7th Street looking south

More Views of Harlem Place

Harlem Place is beyond the metal fence as seen from Spring Street
Some fortunate guests of the Rosslyn Hotel have views of Harlem Place below

A playground near 4th Street bounded on the east by Harlem Place

A parking entrance from Spring Street that allows cars to cross over Harlem Place
More of Harlem Place just south of 4th Street
Harlem Place, a view northward with 4th Street and Beta Main Museum ahead

The "No Name" Alley

In June of 1897 the LA Times reported on a group of residents opposing the opening of an alley at 6th to 7th Streets between Broadway & Spring, so the City Council moved the matter to the July agenda.  Council minutes from March 29, 1898 seemed to indicate that the alley was approved.

Today the alley is still nameless.

At 6th Street

Another angle, captured by Google Maps, a view south into alley

At 6th Street, a straight view south on the No Name alleyway
The gated No Name alley (behind Clifton's Cafeteria) at the north side of 7th Street

A straight view of the alley northward at 7th Street
Same straightaway shot taken from across the street

The No Name alley at 7th - a south view behind the Van Nuys Apartments

Below is a distant view of the No Name alley taken from Spring Street - the typical scene of the alley behind a parking lot separated by fencing:

Werdin Place

Probably the best-known of these little-known alleyways is Werdin Place.  Named for Ernest R. Werdin (1869-1932) from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He served as the superintendent of streets from 1902-1904.  He then formed the Los Angeles Paving Company in 1912.  The business continued on through his son.  Portions of one well-known street paved by this company was Sunset Boulevard. 

Once known as Werdin Alley, there is a sweet story in the 200 block.  There is a story at the 400 block.

Werdin Alley on this 1921 survey atlas leads to St. Vibiana Cathedral
Image courtesy of the Seaver Center
The 200 block of Werdin played a part in the early years of Theodore Van de Kamp's Dutch Holland Bakers.  Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1891, he formed a partnership with L.L. Frank to open a store at 236 1/2 S. Spring Street in 1915 to manufacture Saratoga chips.  The following year they established a baking plant at 222 Center Place (later to become Harlem Place).  In 1917, wholesale and retail baking became their focus when they set up their plant at 255-257 Werdin Place.  A workplace accident occurred here in 1920 when an oven backfired and burned a baker.  Next door at 248 Werdin was the Globe Dairy Lunch Bakery.

Viewing north at 3rd Street

Perhaps private property but this is a view north at 4th Street along the Werdin trajectory

Looking south on Werdin from 4th Street

Native Americans gravitated to 400 block of Werdin Place at the intersection of Winston Street in the 1960s.  In 1974 a safe house at 118 Winston Street was founded.

Werdin Place
Werdin Place at Winston Street "Indian Alley" 1987
Image courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Database

A Google Maps image from January 2017 shows an unofficial sign
marking the location as "Indian Alley"

The "Indian Alley" sign was taken down by the time this photo was taken May 5th

Werdin Place looking south at Winston Street
Werdin Place

Lebanon Street

This next batch of photos was taken on a rainy morning of March 2nd.

The little street that could - the Lebanon Street story is about a short and narrow alley that took on the status of "street" despite having the proportions of an alleyway.  The street designation may have prevented it from being swallowed up by downtown development in the 1920s, although the extension of Wilshire Boulevard took a bite in the early 1930s.  

The start point of Lebanon - along 6th Street
Residences sprung up in an alley called Park Lane from 6th to 7th Streets (between Figueroa and Flower), which in 1897 led the alley to be re-named "Lebanon Street".  Those living there paid to have the street paved with sidewalks put in (in March, 1898 the Los Angeles Times reported that the street was graded.)

At the start of year 1906, the city was met with protests by these proactive residents objecting to the installation of light poles.  Each pole sat on a two-foot base when the sidewalks were a mere five feet wide on each side of the street.

Within twenty years the neighborhood drastically changed.  The Times newspaper reported in January, 1923 that the "city's loneliest house is at 626 1/4 Lebanon Street, which is the shortest thoroughfare uptown and also the narrowest.  Across the street from it at an address which also runs in fourths some thrifty soul raises chickens within a stone's cast of the roaring Seventh street traffic."

A couple of years later a 99-year lease set the ball rolling for the opulent Fine Arts Building to constructed at Seventh and Lebanon.

Shown on 1905 Baist's Real Estate Atlas
Courtesy of the Seaver Center

From October, 2017 Google Maps

Straightaway south view from 6th Street on a rainy morning
South view near Wilshire Boulevard crossing
South view beyond Wilshire looking towards the former Barker Bros. building at 7th Street
Northeast corner of 7th and Lebanon

Lebanon Street eventually extended south, running alongside the Figueroa Corridor in starts and stops down to Washington Boulevard.  Sometimes a street sign makes it known, or else there are no street signs on certain corners.

A segment of road from Cameron Lane to Venice Boulevard changed from Alexander Lane to Lebanon Street in 1917.

Lebanon continued from Venice to Washington Boulevards in 1926 and 1927, but a portion within this was vacated for the freeway in 1964.

The southern segments here support the great many automobile dealerships - Lebanon Street became very useful in the movement of new cars, auto repair and customer service activities, and it generally provides relief from the congested Figueroa Street.

Lebanon at Venice Boulevard

Lebanon Street runs under the Santa Monica Freeway

At Washington Boulevard

At 18th Street
Lebanon Street's original length from 6th to 7th Streets on 1921 Baist's Real Estate Atlas
Courtesy of the Seaver Center

Origins of the Lebanon Street Name
Research did not turn up a solid explanation for the name, Lebanon.  There were not nearby residents found who might have come from Lebanon, Syria or Turkey.  Reasons for the name may include:  attribution to other places named Lebanon in the United States or a Middle East Arab region; biblical reference; or for cedar trees.

Lebanon and Syria in the mid-19th century were provinces of Greater Syria within the Ottoman Empire.  According to historian Sarah Gualtieri, Syrians were the first Arabs to settle in the United States particularly before World War II.

The first wave of migration of Lebanese to the U.S. occurred between 1880 and 1914 prompted by factors like group conflicts and instability.  One episode in the turmoil was a massacre of thousands of Christians in Damascus in 1860. 

Individual Syrian immigrants settled in L.A. before this alley became named Lebanon Street, and they introduced their cultural wares to Americans in order to make a living (Oriental goods and rugs).  Historian Gualtieri cited several prominent men who resided in Los Angeles.  The following was found in the 1910 census:

Phares Behannesey, age 31, from Turkey, immigrated in 1889, occupation:  merchant

Mike George, age 35, from Turkey, immigrated in 1890, occupation:  importer

Elias Shedoudy, age 32, from Turkey, immigrated in 1903, occupation:  cabinet maker in planing mill

Salem Sawaya:  age 39, from Turkey Syrian [sic], immigrated in 1898, occupation:  salesman-wholesale

John J. Safady:  age 65, from Turkey, immigrated in 1893, occupation:  curio store owner
(The newspaper printed John Safady's obituary on January 5, 1931 recognizing his years as a merchant in the city.  He had a store at 7th near Hill for 24 years.)

Also mentioned by historian Gualtieri was Nicholas Baida, whose information was found in the 1900 census:

Nicholas Baida:  age 30 in the 1900 Census, from Turkey, immigrated in 1890, occupation:  Oriental art

Background information on Baida is more plentiful than for most of the other individuals.  Baida was born in Beirut.  In 1902 he opened an Oriental Art store at Ocean Park's promenade.  In 1907 he built a Moorish house (2103 Third Street, Santa Monica, no longer exists) called the Baron's castle.  When Ocean Park's pier caught fire and destroyed his art store in 1912, he sold the house to recoup his expenses.

Moorish house Santa Monica