Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rt. Rev. Joseph H. Johnson
415 S. Grand Avenue, Pasadena

(updated March, 2014)

Next up was a grand house on Grand Ave.  The Right Reverend Joseph Horsfall Johnson(1847-1928), along his wife Isabel (1851-1940) and only son Reginald (1888-1952), had moved in sometime prior to 1900.  In 1903 the City of Pasadena published a book extolling the virtues of the city--the Johnson's house was included.

The Johnson Residence at 415 Grand Avenue, 1903
Rt. Reverend Johnson commuted each day to his office in downtown Los Angeles near St. Paul's Cathedral--after all he was the Episcopal Bishop for Southern California, a job he took in 1896. No doubt he approved of the Pasadena Short Line, opened in 1902, which shortened his commute significantly.

In 1909 he founded Bishop's School in San Diego with the financial help of the Scripps sisters. By 1912 he was heavily involved with Pomona College, serving on their Board of Trustees. It was probably good odds that Rev. Johnson was a key link that allowed for the creation of Scripps College (also part of the Claremont Colleges).  

Around 1910 son Reginald, still living at home, began his architect career, and would go on to become well known for his designs of churches (including St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, which his father consecrated) and single-family residences.

Below is the photo that appeared in our book. The image had not changed from an earlier 1906 edition.

415 South Grand Avenue circa 1906

Rt. Rev. Johnson ca. 1910

The Johnsons in 1921
 In 1921 the Johnsons decided to take some time off.  Applying for passports to go to Europe, Rev. Johnson cited "health" as the object of his visit. At the time he was 74, and Isabella 71.

In 1923 Rev. Johnson presided at the funeral of Arthur Letts, Broadway Department Store founder. As thanks, the Letts' children donated funds to provide a new pulpit for St. Paul's Cathedral.

Rev. Johnson died in 1928 and is buried at San Gabriel Cemetery. After his death, Isabella moved out of the house to a new one designed by son Reginald, located at 1590 Lombardy Road. With her son's house at the other end of the block (1380 Lombardy), she remained at this address until her death in 1940, and was buried in the same plot as Joseph in 1940. Reginald and his wife Kathleen are buried there too.

The lot today appears to be about the same size, with the Arroyo Seco starting behind the house, providing great views across the canyon. And while today's house is on the same spot as the Rt. Reverend's, it is only one-storey in height, with brick exterior, which means this house is just a memory.

A recent aerial image of the property

Old Homes of Los Angeles

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