Posts in category 1920s
At a time when Hollywood screenwriter Elinor Glyn helped to make a star of actress Clara Bow, for whom she coined the label “the It girl” in 1928, little is remembered of her co-star, Antonio Moreno who appeared with Bow in the film It in 1927. It was Clara Bow’s first starring role; Moreno had already appeared in dozens of films, beginning in 1912, the year of his arrival in Los Angeles during which he appeared in seven films.
Moreno grew up in Gibraltar where he grew up knot a handsome lad of impressive charm, impressive enough to attract the attention (in more ways than one) of two important tourists: Benjamin Curtis, son of US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Robbins Curtis, and Enrique de Cruzat Zanetti (also known as Sheikh Birbal), a leader in the Sufi branch of Islam. Curtis and Zanetti invited the teenager to accompany them on the remainder of their travels with Moreno serving as interpreter to the ailing Curtis. Arriving in New York in 1902, Moreno wasted no time in attracting more patrons, including Charlotte Morgan, a wealthy widow who invited him to live her at her home in Northampton, Massachusetts.
In Northampton, Antonio caught the acting bug after playing in a summer production of the resident stock company, after which he moved with the company to New York City. Charming his way into the company, he made his Broadway debut in 1910, and by 1912 was doing Shakespeare with the touring Southern and Marlow Company. When English director Walter Edwin suggested he might do well in motion pictures, he moved to Hollywood in 1912 and appeared in seven films during the year of his arrival.
In all, Moreno appeared in 140 films, rising to fame as an exotic romantic hero, benefitting from the “Latin Lover” craze begun by Rudolph Valentino. He appeared alongside every dramatic star of the silent era including Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Norma Talmadge, Greta Garbo, Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson and the aforementioned Clara Bow.
In 1923 Antonio married oil heiress Daisy Canfield, daughter of Charles Canfield, who with Edward Doheny discovered Los Angeles’ black gold in the 1890s. The marriage was one of convenience, given alleged same-sex inclinations on the part of both. A perception of normalcy in sexual relations would have been especially important for a macho-playing movie star, who like Valentino, had to constantly fend off rumors about his sexuality.
With unlimited funds acquired through the divorce from her first husband, oilman J. M. Danzinger, Daisy hired noted architect Robert Farquhar to design a Mediterranean style villa on the crest of the highest hill in Silver Lake. Christened the Crestmont, the estate would become famous for its lavish parties attended by celebrities, socialites and prominent members of Los Angeles’ Spanish and Mexican era land grant families.
For more on the life of Antonio Moreno, the book, Silver Lake Chronicles: Exploring an Urban Oasis in Los Angeles makes for excellent reading.
Editor’s Note: I became acquainted with Stephanie Vendig during my tenure on the board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. Stephanie, along with her pal Bea Gold have been on the forefront of issues affecting Silver Lake’s senior communities, advocating and promoting the Silver Lake Seniors Club (since 2006, the Griffith Park Adult Community Club). As president of the club, I asked Stephanie to tell us her story, as a way of introducing our readers to this very special community servant, as well as spreading the word about the club.
As the president of Griffith Park Adult Community Club, supporting the Griffith Park Adult Community Center (GPACC) and its activities for the 50+ population, I wondered how I got to this place of advocacy. Upon reflection, I believe it is no accident that I found this niche. All of my life experiences pointed me in a direction that had a theme of serving community, My life started in Bakersfield in 1936, and I left at 18 years old to go away to college. However, both of my parents’ families were Los Angeles people beginning in 1923 around the Silver Lake and Hollywood areas. My grandparents were part of the mass immigration in the early 1900’s of East European Jews into New York and into Canada. My father became an optometrist, but starting a practice during the depression was difficult in L.A. He answered an ad to open a practice in the back of a jewelry store in Bakersfield. Thus, my parents moved there in 1935. They became very community-minded, joining organizations that helped the community. My consciousness- raising about serving community began with them and their experiences. My college education was varied, completing a BA from UC Berkeley in 1959. In addition to credentials to teach elementary school and the physically handicapped I got a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Cal State, Northridge. Married life started in 1959, and lasted 42 years. My husband, Fred, died in 2001 after an 8-year struggle with bone marrow failure. In 1966, we bought a house in Silver Lake, where we raised our two children David and Joshua. I still live in the same house. David continues to live in Silver Lake raising his three children, and Joshua and his family of two young children live in Bishop. I started teaching in San Francisco in 1961, and when I moved to Los Angeles I began teaching the physically handicapped in 1968. My teaching experience has always been with children who were disadvantaged or had special needs in a variety of ways, so I learned from those children about barriers and the capacity to overcome when the environment supported their efforts. I became involved with LAUSD Special Education as a consultant under the directorship of Bea Gold (previously honored in Who’s Who in Silver Lake). Together, we developed programs serving young children with special needs and training special education teachers. From this experience I learned to help adults learn new skills and to create programs from inception through implementation. In 1980, I left the school district for the nonprofit world and the world of adolescents. I joined the staff of the Youth and Family Center, a social service agency that provided services for pregnant and parenting teens. The focus was on case management, and I was hired to create an infant and toddler program for the children of teen-age parents and to provide parent education. I became part of the management team, and in 1996, I retired from the agency as Interim Executive Director. From this experience, I picked up skills of collaboration with a variety of public institutions and organizations in order to make sure that these adolescents could overcome obstacles, as they attempt to complete their education and become good parents. I retired at age 60 to tend to the needs of my husband as he battled his illness. In 2000, I heard there was going to be a meeting at the Silver Lake Recreation Center to discuss with the Facility Director activities for seniors. Thirty-one of us showed up at the urging of Lia LoMedico who gathered signatures from her neighbors. We were told that we had to organize as a club in order to use the facility. I was hooked. My involvement at first followed the needs of my husband. I began a club newsletter that I still do today. My involvement grew as I began to define my life as a single person, after my husband’s death. Three years ago, I began writing a column addressing senior issues for the Los Feliz Ledger, starting a new career in my older years. Today, I feel very privileged to be president of the club and part of an organization that truly represents grass roots community efforts. The club, now with over 670 members, is doing good things on behalf of older adults in our society. I may be the current leader now, but the success of the club is a result of many wonderful people working together for a common goal. I am pleased I have contributed to its success. The Griffith Park Adult Community Center is located at 3203 Riverside Drive in Los Feliz (next door to Friendship Auditorium). Center Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. The center has a variety of activities including line dancing, creative writing, yoga, guitar, art, table games, and more. A library, a computer lab, and conference room are also available. Delicious, low cost lunches are provided everyday. The club meets monthly on the 3rd Wednesday of the month for lunch and a program including a gourmet potluck in June and December. With a membership ($10/year) you can take advantage of monthly day trips and receive a monthly newsletter. To learn more, please contact the center (323) 644-5579 or email Stephanie Vendig at email@example.com
The Villa was dedicated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monumnet in 2010 No. 971), located at 2508 Mayberry Street in the Mayberry Heights neighborhood of Silver Lake.
The dramatic parlor/living room of the Villa Palombo-Togneri, complete with hand-painted walls and ceilings and art deco chandelier and wall sconces recalls the glamour of old Hollywood. Declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, January 27, 2010 (No. 971).
Architectural Historian Helene Demeestere www.HistoricallyCorrect.com contributed generously to the information provided above.
Elizabeth Bougart-Sharkov, Chair of the Silver Lake Urban Design & Preservation Committee, recently informed that this unassuming duplex located at 944 Maltman Avenue is indeed the work of a young Rudolf Shindler! ‘During the course of research and digging through history and left-intact documents, we made this tremendous discovery. It was designed and built according to his plans’, an ecstatic Ms. Bougart-Sharkov exclaimed, ‘It was a stepping stone in terms of using cast concrete as a structural and architectural element.’Elizabeth related that Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti was personally involved and appeared before the Los Angeles Cultural and Historic Commission requesting the designation of the property as a Los Angeles Cultural and Heritage Monument (No. 844) which was successful.In an email received by Schindler’s son, Mark Schindler, I learned that ‘the Purviance Duplex is the small house to the north. The owner wanted Schindler to use brick, so the architect revised the plan and sold it to him. The rear section has the same slab cast tiles that my father used on the How House.’.
The Purviance Duplex is located at 944 Maltman Avenue.
Rudolph Schindler designed Manola Cour for his client, artist/designer Herman Sachs over a 14-year period. They are an excellent example of Schindler’s abstract style. Located at 1811-1830 Edgecliffe Drive. The entire complex of sixteen residences ‘set within hilliside gardens on three adjacent street-to-street parcels’ was listed for sale (July 2008) for $3M. A dramatic 2-story owner’s loft connects directly to the original studio.
Photo taken from the 1800 block of Lucile Avenue.
In the How House, Schindler has addressed the challenges of a steep hillside lot in Silver Lake with the needs of his client, physician James Eads How, and has created a remarkable composition. Rather than the typical arrangement of placing the house squarely in line with the curb, Schindler has it placed on a diagonal. The ingenious interplay of glass and redwood provides a sense of transparency while affording privacy that harmonizes with the setting.
The How House is located at 2422 Silver Ridge Avenue in Silver Lake. It has undergone extensive renovation since purchased in late 2003. The property hit the market in September 2008 for almost $5 million. Owner Michael LaFetra redduced the price in June, and then the house went off the market last September. It , came back on the market in November 2009 priced at $2.795 million; as of May 2010 it was listed for sale for $2.495 million. Motion picture executive Brad Kembel and his partner Jimmy Ferrareze purchased the landmark in May 2012 for $1.3 million.
For more information about the architect, the book ‘R.M.Schindler’ by James Steele is highly recommended.
The Cathedral is located at 650 Micheltorena Street.
If any of our readers know about the development of Hathaway Estates, details about the original owner, architect or builder, please feel free to contact the editor of this column.
NOTES: I recently received an e-mail from Michele Martin informing me that ‘the Estate belonged to a Charles Hathaway, a director/studio head from the silent screen era. His great granddaughter, Robin Clarke, was my best friend and neighbor when I lived at 2400 Micheltorena Street.’
SLN Subscriber Ken Puchlik writes: ‘From 1950 to 1965 I lived on Redesdale Ave. on the west side of the valley looking east at the Hathaway house on top of the hill. It was always vacant and never a light on. One night, the mansion was ablaze with light and everyone came out to wonder what was going on. It was simply the moon rising behind the home and the light was passing through the windows and out the other side. Obviously, it was devoid of furniture or curtains.
I also remember that there was another large building or home next to it; people said it was another mansion. It apparently was demolished during the construction of the ‘tract’ homes that I believe were a poor use of the viewscape. Having half the number of lots with higher end-well designed homes, taking better advantage of the pre-existing topography, would have been better use of the land. The developer should have used the axiom of ‘less is more’ and probably realized more investment return by developing premium lots on what was a rare piece of land. Paradise lost.
Mr. Hathaway had good reason to fear fire. In the early 50’s a grass fire at the end of summer burnt up to the edge of the estate. Every local fire unit was on the scene. Dry summer grass was prevalent with all the vacant lots at the time. After that, the fire department started controlled burns of the lots every summer.
Before the hum of the freeways diminished the neighborhood’s ambient sound, you could hear the trains switching in the yards off Fletcher Dr. late at night. The greatest chili dogs in the world were sold out of the old Signal Gas station at Effie and Silver Lake Blvd. Across the street, the 7/11 was a Union Oil Gas station with the friendliest guys who took good care of you at 20 cents a gallon of gas. And a kid could walk the 0.75 mile to catch the PE and go to the Ramona and see a 25 cent movie without any concern for safety, even at night.
Craig Collins writes ‘When I moved here in 1982, the subdivision was just being built. The land had been bought by CalTrans for continuation of the Glendale Freeway, which was to connect with the Hollywood Freeway (near Vermont…where there’s that very wide median), then on to Beverly Hills, which was to be the name of the freeway. As a result of that unfortunate choice of name and alignment, one of the very first successful opposition to a California freeway project was mounted, and the freeway ended at Glendale Boulevard. After many years, CalTrans began selling off the property, and you can pretty much trace the path by much of the newer construction, especially on the south side of Sunset.
I had heard about an effort to create a park on the Hathaway hill, but know nothing further about it. How spectacular that would have been!
Anyway, Peggy Stevenson was City Councilperson at the time, was a fervent supporter of the development community, and she evidently got quick approval of the housing project. After the development was completed, it mysteriously became a gated community. It’s worth noting that Stevenson was defeated in a reelection bid by Michael Woo, who shepherded many of the pro-planning and more progressive changes in the city (such as getting a moratorium on the explosive development of mini-malls that was then in full swing). Upon her defeat, Stevenson systematically destroyed all the district constituent and project files in her office, forcing Woo to begin his office with nothing to aid projects and constituent concerns. That was the good old days in the LA City Council!
Well, that’s what I know, subject to verification by others who may have a better historical perspective.
Veteran Silver Lake activist Maryann Kuk writes ‘My recollection about Hathaway is that it had nothing to do with the #2 freeway. It was before I participated in any community stuff. The Hathaway estate (they are old money LA Athletic club, Riviera Country club, CA yacht club) sold it to a developer who wanted to build 100’s of condos. SLRA got heavily involved opposing along with the immediate ‘hood and the developer backed down to the 40+ or so [ugly, tract, crappy] houses. He promised to leave all of the mature tress, but the day after he got his permit he cut them all down. The Hathaway family had been collectors of specimens and I’m told it was beautiful.’
The Garbutt House is located at 1809 Apex Avenue. To learn more about the Garbutt-Hathaway families, the book, Silver Lake Chronicles: Exploring an Urban Oasis in Los Angeles makes for compelling reading.
The Silver Lake News thanks our readers for their generous contributions of history and insights of Silver Lake!
A commanding view of Silver Lake Reservoir observed from the balcony facing north.
As seen from the front entrance of the estate.
The Page Mansion is located at 2178 Kenilworth Avenue in the exclusive Moreno Highlands section of Silver Lake. Mr. Page had the home built for himself in 1937. The home originally had a grand entrance on Moreno Drive. Later, the property was subdivided and the lower half of the lot sold, necessitating a major change in the orientation of the house. It remains a handsome Tudor home.
Canfield-Moreno Estate- Robert D. Farquhar, Architect 1923
Among the noteworthy projects completed by Whittlesey during his career, the Alvarado Hotel in downtown Phoenix (demolished in 1970) was perhaps his most famous. Considered Phoenix’s most famous historic landmark, the loss of the Alvarado Hotel to the wrecking ball was one of the great architectural disasters of the twentieth century. The Livermore-Whittlesey-Jew House located in the Russian Hill Vallejo Crest Historic District in San Francisco is another fine example of the Pueblo Mission Revival Style designed by Whittlesey in 1912.
Originally built as a duplex in 1921, The Burrows Residence stands in striking departure from Whittlesey’s main body of work. Fanciful and playful, the Burrows Residence is no doubt inspired by the influence of Antoni Gaudi, the great Barcelona architect, a contemporary of Whittlesey’s.
The Burrows Residence is located at 2384 Loma Vista Place in the Edendale Terrace Tract of Silver Lake.