Wednesday, April 6, 2011

L. T. Garnsey -- 2241 West 24th Street

Lehman T. Garnsey (1846-1916) first appears in the Los Angeles area in 1887, when he shows up as President of the Providencia Water, Land, and Development Company, which platted the city of Burbank. According to a biography published in the L.A. Herald in 1908, Mr. Garnsey came to California essentially to retire (at 40!) after entrepreneurial success in Denver, Chicago, and New York. With booms come busts, and Mr. Garnsey mentioned that when it came (in 1888) he was "in the swim", taking twelve years to pay back his debts.

That did not appear to slow him down, as he continued to be involved extensively in real estate. His largest fame came from being the President of the Los Angeles and Redondo Railroad, a small-gauge railway he purchased in 1894, that went from downtown L.A. to Redondo Beach, where he was heavily invested in...real estate. Garnsey Street alongside Redondo High School was named for L.T.

Mrs. Garnsey's 1924
passport photo
By 1900 he was living downtown in a hotel at 506 S. Hill. The census mentions his occupation then as "capitalist", which was common when it was not possible to pin down any one industry or occupation. Living with him was his wife of five years, Cecil J., and her eight-year old daughter from another marriage, Warren Mills. Cecil was 25 years younger than L.T. and appeared to enjoy the good life. Society pages and other records mention multiple trips to Hawaii, the Orient, and Europe for Mrs. Garnsey. One in 1908 mentions a visit to the Orient, with Mr. Garnsey accompanying her as far as Hawaii.

The Garnsey Home in fashionable West Adams
In 1906 the Garnseys purchased a home at 2241 West 24th Street, where they resided until Mr. Garnsey's death at age 71 in February, 1916. The monies for the house may have come from his 1904 sale of the railroad and associated lands to Henry Huntington. The sale created a mini-boom in Redondo Beach, as investors in L.A. knew of the significant capital Huntington could bring to the operation. He did upgrade the railroad significantly, and within a month had made his money back through the uplift in land sales.
L. T. in 1908

In 1911 Honolulu papers were abuzz with mention of Mrs. Garnsey's daughter Warren. Evidently she eloped while in Hawaii and Mrs. Garnsey was quite upset about the episode.  A daughter Virginia and a son Warren were born to Warren and her husband, James Haynes, in 1914-1916, which no doubt became a good reason for Mrs. Garnsey's multiple sea trips to Hawaii in the '20s.

By 1920 Mrs. Garnsey had moved to an apartment hotel in San Francisco, where she continued to live past 1930. L.T. passed away while at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles, and according to the L.A. Herald, his last resting place was to be Birmingham, New York. Most likely that would have been Binghamton, New York, where L.T. had significant business success in the 1870's as a fruit wholesaler.

And what of the house today? See below...

The House Today (with guard dog)
(courtesy of the author)



Warren Haynes Virginia Haynes

3 comments:

  1. I came upon the name Garnsey that appeared on an aerial view of what is now known as "Valley Village" just West of Burbank. I'm certain I've never heard anyone refer to Garnsey when talking about the area so I was curious. Now I know. He has an interesting history. I'll be sure to drop the name to a friend, "Would you like to go to lunch with me today in Garnsey?" That should be fun!

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    1. Google Maps shows "Garnsey" as if it was a suburb north of Valley Village. The Pacific Electric Line ("Red Cars") along Chandler Blvd had a stop called Garnsey just east of Whitsett, which probably dates from 1912. I expect the area is named after it.

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  2. Now you know where the name came from!

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