South Lucerne Boulevard
500 block

501 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 43
  • Built in 1923; BPs for house and garage issued 8-8-1923
  • Original commissioner: Preston S. Wright Company for resale
  • Architect: Corwin & Merrill (Harley G. Corwin and Everett H. Merrill)
  • Contractor: Preston S. Wright Company
  • Sold immediately to Dr. E. Clarence Moore
  • Moore and his wife, Helen Rowland Moore, separated and divorced after several years; he was living at the Ambassador by 1929. Mrs. Moore would retain 501 until she died at her family's Rancho La Puente on 3-2-1946
  • Apparently attractive to doctors named Clarence, 501 South Lucerne next became the home of Dr. Clarence G. Toland. His stay was short; he died at 501 on 10-2-1947
  • Yet another physician, though this time not named Clarence, was next up at 501; Dr. Hugo M. Kersten had attended John Barrymore in his last days in 1942. Later a cancer specialist, Kersten and his wife would be the longest-term tenants of the house; he was still living at 501 when he died in Los Angeles on 1-28-1968

As seen in the Los Angeles Times on 2-10-1924
at the time of its sale to Dr. E. Clarence Moore and again
when on the market 66 years later (2-25-1990).

504 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 44
  • Built in 1916; BP for house issued 11-9-1915; BPs for garage and summer house issued 11-18-1915
  • Original commissioner: railroad executive Walter H. Comstock
  • Architect: Hibbard & Cody (Lester H. Hibbard and H. Bryant Cody; Cody had until recently been a draftsman for Myron Hunt)
  • Contractor: Alfred Nelson
  • Walter H. Comstock, who left the Union Pacific organization in 1924 to go into banking, was still at 504 when he died in Los Angeles on 6-15-1949. According to the Los Angeles Times of 5-12-1965, his widow, Helen, who had been ill and confined to her bedroom, "was found dead...on the grounds of her palatial home at 504 Lucerne Blvd." In her 50th year in the house, Mrs. Comstock had fallen 15 feet from a sun porch. Neither of the Comstocks' two children appear to have ever married; 52-year-old Duane Comstock, who lived with his mother, was apparently not at home at the time of the incident

510 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 45
  • Built in 1920; BP for house issued 12-6-1919; for garage 12-12-1919
  • Original commissioner: Edward A. Dickson, editor of the Los Angeles Evening Express
  • Architect: George W. Eldridge
  • Contractor: William D. Geck
  • Dickson, by now the publisher as well as the editor of the Express, put 510 on the market in 1927; he would move to 425 South Windsor Boulevard by 1929
  • The next owners of 510 were Mr. and Mrs. Earl W. C. Pehl, in residence by late 1929
  • The Pehls added a childrens' play house in 1930 (BP issued 3-7-1930)
  • Mr. Pehl was associated with the sales division of the General Electric Company; he was later an engineer with the Department of Water & Power. He died at 510 on 4-6-1957. Mrs. Pehl left the house soon after 
  • large addition containing two bedrooms was made at the northeast corner of the house in 1964 (BP issued 1-9-1964)
  • Prior to 1964, the original garage was demolished and replaced with a tennis court; a carport was added later. These in turn were replace with a new garage in 2003

511 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 42
  • Built in 1922; BPs for house and garage issued 7-3-1922
  • Original commissioner: retired furniture dealer Ardo B. Wilmans
  • Architect and contractor: The Frank Meline Company
  • Putting the house on the market for $36,500 in late 1927, Wilmans moved to the northwest San Fernando Valley to farm fruit
  • 511 South Lucerne was sold in 1928 to Dr. James T. Fisher, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist (a term quickly coming to replace "alienist"); moving next door to 523 at the same time was Dr. J. Ross Moore, also a psychiatrist. Dr. Fisher is referred to in contemporary newspaper reports as "a figure in the fight against drug addiction." He had been a producer and adviser on the 1923 film Human Wreckage alongside Thomas Ince and star Dorothy Davenport (the picture was based on the experience of her husband, actor Wallace Reid). Dr. Fisher had also been arrested in 1923 for selling morphine, although this was apparently a misunderstanding; he and his wife were mentioned as a couple in society columns within weeks of the indictment—which is not to say that the marriage lasted. The Fishers were divorced not long before he married again in October 1932
  • The Fishers' elder daughter, Katherine, married William Malkmus in Yuma on December 8, 1932; her sister Josephine was married to Martin W. Nixon at 511 on September 8, 1934, with her brother, Richard, giving her away. The brides' father was not mentioned at all in either of their wedding announcements in the Times   
  • Renting the house briefly in 1940 was real estate salesman Edward Bouton  
  • In the early years of World War II, 511 became the home of wholesale baker J. Rowland Siegel
  • Succeeding the Siegels by 1956 were the Robert J. Brookeses, Assembly Ball/Junior League types who would remain until the late 1960s
  • A drastic remodeling of the façade in early 2014 removed the porch that connected the driveway to the entrance and had provided visual width and charm, as seen in an earlier view below; this porch may have been part of an earlier undocumented renovation of the house that was meant to modernize an English-style house typical of the 1920s by downplaying the half-timbering of the gable. (A similar transformation occurred in 1940 to 409 South Lucerne.) The recent work on 511, which was continuing as late as the summer of 2017, may well have been an attempt to restore the house's original appearance

518 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 46
  • Built in 1920; BP for house issued 2-25-1920; for garage 6-29-1920
  • Original commissioner: Helena B. Neece, a divorcée then living with her sister in a rented house at 3124 Wilshire Boulevard. Although Mrs. Neece is listed in the 1922 yearbook of Who's Who Among the Women of California at 518 South Lucerne, her stay was short. The house may have been built only as an investment; at any rate, Mrs. Neece sold it toward the end of 1921
  • Architect and contractor: Wilfred A. McCutcheon
  • Sold to Mr. and Mrs. John Bandini Winston, who had been living on Carroll Avenue in Angelino Heights, in 1921; the Los Angeles Times reported on 12-27-1921 that the couple and their two daughters, along with their son and daughter-in-law, "kept open house Christmas Day at their new home[,] 518 Lucerne Boulevard"
  • The Winstons added a second story to the garage in 1925 (BP issued 1-21-1925). In 1931, Carolina Winston hired no less than Wallace Neff to add a new paneled ceiling to a bedroom and do other redecoration (BP issued 1-7-1931)
  • In 1927, Carolina's chauffeur was arrested and sentenced to five days in jail for speeding in Orange County
  • John Bandini Winston, described as an engineer and railway builder as well as a member on two sides of pioneer California families, died in La Jolla on 1-25-1940, still living at 518
  • Carolina Winston died in Los Angeles on 12-1-1944, still living at 518
  • The Winstons' eldest daughter, Marguerite, who never married, remained in the house until her death in Los Angeles at age 75 on 7-20-1963

520 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 47
  • Built in 1919; BPs for house and garage issued 10-16-1919 for the address 526 South Lucerne Boulevard
  • Original commissioner: lumber executive Robert Ogden Vredenburgh
  • Architect and contractor: Harry H. Whiteley
  • The Vredenburgh family's tenure at 520 was over by the mid '20s; Margaret, the 17-year-old younger of two daughters of the house, married James Aye, an 18-year-old who was later described as a writer and actor in films, in Santa Ana on 3-5-1925; on 8-28-1926, the Los Angeles Times reported on a court hearing in which Margaret was suing James for divorce, charging cruelty. (Presumably the decree was granted after she gave birth to a daughter on 10-24-1926.) At the same 8-28-1926 hearing reported on by the Times, her mother, Jessie Vredenburgh, also seeking a divorce, charged her husband with desertion after 20 years of marriage; mother and daughter testified for each other and were represented by the same attorney
  • The address of the house was altered to "520" from 526 by a subsequent owner; such changes were made for a number of Windsor Square addresses, presumably to avoid post office confusion with similar addresses above First Street

As seen in the Los Angeles Times on 11-2-1919

523 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 41
  • Built in 1920; BPs for house and garage issued 1-5-1920 for the address 519 South Lucerne Boulevard
  • Original commissioner: builder Harry H. Belden for resale
  • Architect and contractor: Frank M. Tyler for house; none indicated on garage BP
  • The address of the house was altered to "523" from 519 by an early owner; such changes were made for a number of Windsor Square addresses, in some cases to avoid post office confusion with similar addresses above First Street
  • Belden built 527 South Arden next door at the same time, also on spec
  • Real estate investor Frank W. Cain bought 523 as his own home, first appearing in the city directory in 1922; he began to advertise the house for sale in 1925
  • Dr. J. Ross Moore, an "alienist"—a term that would soon give way to "psychiatrist"—and "insanity expert" who testified in numerous cases reported by the Times, was the next owner of 523, in residence by 1928. Moore and his wife, Zola, remained in the house until their deaths, his on 2-3-1956 and hers on 3-20-1957
  • A large addition to the rear northwest corner of the house in 1967/68 (BP issued 10-30-1967; COO issued 6-28-1968
  • The original garage was demolished and replaced with a new one; demolition BP and BP for new building issued 6-18-2008

As advertised in the Times on 9-15-1957, the Moores' domestic legacy went on the block

527 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 40
  • Built in 1920; BPs for house and garage issued 1-24-1920
  • Original  commissioner: builder Harry H. Belden for resale
  • Architect: none indicated on BP 
  • Contractor: "same," apparently indicating Belden
  • Belden built 523 South Arden next door at the same time, also on spec; its architect is indicated as Frank M. Tyler
  • Details of the occupancy of 527 during its first years are not yet clear. Contractor Eltinge T. Brown was living in the house late in the decade; with a BP issued four days before Black Tuesday 1929, he hired the firm of Hunt & Burns enlarge the breakfast room and add a sunroom. Perhaps affected by the Depression, Brown's stay was short; he was gone by 1933
  • The succeeding tenants of 527 South Lucerne lived life more along the lines of Hollywood melodrama than most Windsor Square denizens, complete with platinum blonde femme fatale. Manhattan-born J. Parker Read Jr. had been a leading producer in the silent era and an associate of Thomas Ince; in 1921, he married Ruth Hamm Piper after their respective divorces. Ruth had two children; her daughter appears to have been transformed into a character spun from her stepfather's dreams, a throwback to Read's protégé Louise Glaum (she starred in his 1920 film Sex) and a predictor of Lana Turner. A beautiful blonde who may have been groomed for a film career but was less interested in the limits of studio hours, Alyce Piper, rechristened after her mother, would go on to be married at least five times. Her second marriage, in 1937, was to Dick Foran, a Warner Bros. second-stringer; Foran was a busy actor with a long career, known for having been nominated for an Academy Award for his work in The Petrified Forest and in cowboy pictures. Right after having two sons in quick succession, Ruth left him (with the children) and moved on to elope with a Mr. Chatfield, a Mr. Pardo, and a Mr. Humphreys (at least). The Reads, who seem to have divorced and each remarried, were gone from 527 South Lucerne by 1940
  • A real estate investment firm appears to have acquired 527 by 1940; it was then sold to pump manufacturer Jay H. Johnston. He enlarged the garage after moving in (BP issued 11-19-1940); in September 1942, his daughter married a member of the Ralphs grocery family. Just before Christmas 1943, apparently drunk, he knocked down a woman getting into her car in the 600 block of Lucerne. He was arrested and spent at least a night in jail. The Johnstons were gone from 527 by 1948

Recently completed and ready for sale: as seen in the Times on 8-15-1920

532 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 48
  • Built in 1918; BPs for house and garage issued 5-23-1918
  • Original commissioner: music dealer Willys H. Munson, who was later associated in business with his next-door neighbor (at 540) Robert L. Rayner (both sold their houses at about the same time)
  • Architect and contractor: Frank L. Meline
  • George W. Metcalf, a Wyoming rancher investing in Los Angeles real estate and in need of a local residence, was the next owner of 532; his extended family would occupy the house until the mid 1930s. Metcalf's daughter Mildred was married to Charles D. Zimmerman, a banker in Douglas, Wyoming; she and their children lived in the house in the '20s and '30s, apparently during the school year. A BP was issued to Mildred Zimmerman on 2-1-1930 to add two bedrooms and a bath to the house. The family moved to 248 South Hudson Avenue in Hancock Park by 1936, Charles by now working in the livestock business
  • Following the 1933 death of her husband, John Wallace Mapel, president of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company of California, Helen R. Mapel sold 419 South Arden Boulevard and moved to 532 South Lucerne by 1936
  • Mrs. Mapel was issued a BP on 10-15-1936 to have the garage moved from the center rear of the lot to the northeast corner of the backyard and given a quarter-turn; later that year, she added a storage room to the building (BP issued 12-4-1936). A BP was issued to her on 9-22-1939 for several interior alterations, including moving the north wall of the dining room out two feet
  • In what was apparently a quiet ceremony in the late '30s, Mrs. Mapel married widower William A. Godshall, a builder and developer. The prior Mrs. Godshall, apparently suffering a nervous breakdown, had fallen to her death from the 14th floor of the Wilshire Medical Building on 4-30-1938. Godshall and his two teenage daughters moved into 532 South Lucerne with his new wife and her three teenage sons
  • William A. Godshall died in Los Angeles at age 50 on 10-27-1946, still living at 532; Helen Godshall appears to have left 532 within a few years
  • In 2004, a pool was added to the property where the garage originally stood  

533 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 39
  • Built in 1916; BPs for house and garage issued 9-11-1916
  • Original commissioner: Mabel G. Murrieta, wife of Dr. Alfred J. Murrieta
  • Architect: Arthur R. Kelly
  • Contractor: Albert L. Walters
  • Murrieta was succeeded at 533 by another physician, nose and throat specialist Emile F. Tholen; he was still there in 1942
  • Continuing the medical legacy of the house, plastic surgeon Harold I. Harris moved into 533 by 1948. Harris was still living there when he died in Los Angeles on 5-3-1975
  • Yet another doctor—although in this case, of the Ph.D variety—was the next and longest-term owner of 533; he added a two-story addition to the southwest rear of the house (BP issued 8-21-1978) and replaced the original garage in 2008 (BP issued 5-5-2008)

540 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 49
  • Built in 1913; BP for house issued 5-17-1913; for original garage 10-11-1913. The 10-25-1913 issue of Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer reported that the contract for the house had been signed on May 17 and the job completed on October 16
  • Original commissioner: Stafford W. Bixby of the landowning Southern California Bixbys; until recently, Bixby had been importing Isotta Fraschinis
  • Architect: not wholly decipherable on the 5-17-1913 BP, but may well be Burt B. Bixby, possibly a distant relation of Stafford W. Bixby and at the time an architect associated with the contractor
  • Contractor: California Real Estate and Building Company, recently formed by Los Angeles builder Lawrence B. Burck
  • Bixby sold 540 to music dealer Robert L. Rayner in 1918 and soon had Elmer Grey build him a considerably grander house in Los Feliz 
  • Rayner's daughter Charlotte was married to banker William B. Joyce Jr. at 540 on 9-9-1918. Rayner left the house by 1921
  • Norman L. Philp, president of the Sanitary Gold Seal Dairy Company, was living at 540 by 1921. A decade later, now retired, Philp prepared to leave 540 after a change in his domestic arrangements. On 5-16-1932, the Los Angeles Times reported that "up until [about a week before], Mrs. Mary Helen Gilbert was the sister-in-law of Norman L. Philp.... Yesterday they returned from their honeymoon." It seems that the prior Mrs. Philp's brother had been married to the new Mrs. Philp; Ethel Philp had just divorced Norman in Juarez, within days of a Reno court granting Mary Helen Gilbert her freedom. Mary and Norman immediately tied the knot in Tia Juana (as it was then spelled) and moved to Beverly Hills
  • The curious cottage at 4521 West Sixth Street on the easterly 50' of adjacent Lot 50 is reported to have been built in 1920, therefore apparently by Rayner although likely by Philp; no information has been found to confirm either. The 1921 Baist real estate atlas suggests that the entire original 85'-by-191' Lot 50, including the small turreted dwelling, despite its completely different architectural character, was attached to 540 South Lucerne. A 23'-by-191' strip of land between lots 49 and 50 delineated on current maps now belongs to the 540 parcel rather than to Lot 50
  • Real estate operator Loomis Johnson acquired 540 South Lucerne by 1941; the narrower Lot 50 was sold at this time as a separate building lot on which 550 South Lucerne was built in 1941; Johnson remained at 540 until at least 1956. (See also 4763 West Fifth Street)
  • The addition of a new garage attached to the south side of the house at an unknown date detracts greatly from the vintage appearance of 540, one of the oldest houses in Windsor Square

541 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 38
  • Built in 1925; BPs for house and garage issued 6-6-1925
  • Original commissioner: contractor George Taylor, apparently on spec; no architect specified on BPs
  • Taylor had recently completed the very similar 419 South Arden Boulevard
  • Bert B. Brewer, a recently retired New York hat manufacturer, acquired 541 within a few years of its completion; coming out of retirement in the mid '30s, Brewer began another hat manufacturing venture in Los Angeles. Retiring again in 1940, he moved to Phoenix in 1941
  • Richard A. Carrington Jr., appointed as publisher of the Los Angeles Examiner in March 1938 and moving down from the same position at the Oakland Post-Enquirer, was the next owner of 541 after a stay in an apartment at the Town House. He died in the house on 3-21-1960. (An obviously trusted associate, Carrington had been named in William Randolph Hearst's 1947 will.) His widow stayed at 541 until later in the decade

549 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; Lot 37
  • Built in 1924; BPs for house and garage issued 2-29-1924
  • Original commissioner: retired lumber and railroad executive Cyrus B. Sweet
  • Architect: Robert D. Jones in partnership with Sanson M. Cooper acting as contractor
  • Sweet, who retired in 1918, was separated from his second wife and in Los Angeles by 1920; following the divorce, he married Pearl White, 27 years his junior, before commissioning 549. He died in the house on 5-26-1943, age 82
  • Mrs. Sweet remained at 549 South Lucerne until 1960; she died in Los Angeles on 12-1-1967, age 79
  • A large addition was made by a subsequent owner to the southwest rear of the house in 1967 (BP issued 4-10-1967) 
  • Ongoing renovations begun in 2006 included the removal of a semicircular canopy over the front entrance between July 2007 and July 2008. Also during this interval a porch was added to the south side of the house copied from the porte cochère on the north side 

An illustration of the façade of 549 South Lucerne Boulevard
as it appeared before alterations that began in 2006.

550 South Lucerne Boulevard

  • Wilshire Heights Tract 1476 addition to Windsor Square; the westerly 140' of Lot 50
  • Built in 1941; BP for house and attached four-car garage issued 4-22-1941
  • Original commissioner: Dr. Arthur A. Kirchner, a gastroenterologist
  • Architect: Henry J. Knauer
  • Contractor: R. Elmer Payne
  • Kirchner made small additions to the rear of the house in 1949 and 1955
  • The parcel on which 550 stands appears to have been subdivided from property once connected to the 1913 house at 540 South Lucerne; the 1921 Baist real estate atlas also suggests that the small independent dwelling on the easterly 50' of Lot 50—4521 West Sixth Street, built in 1920—was associated with that house despite its completely different architectural character

Illustrations: Private Collection; LAT