Monday, June 27, 2011

834 W. 28th St. -- John H. Norton

John H. Norton (1846-1911), left his Boston area home at an early age to seek his fortune in the west. In 1864 he worked in southern Colorado as a storekeeper and saloon owner, building capital steadily. Around 1870 he sold everything and took a stage to Tucson, where he was appointed by the U.S. government as "post trader" at Fort Grant, a new fort in southeast Arizona Territory. From there he went on to found Willcox, Arizona, where his store today is on the Register of Historic Places. Joining forces with partner Madison Stewart, they created a successful stage line among other businesses in Arizona. He married Mary Frances Van Doren (1867-  ), and in 1891, their only child Amy Marie was born in Willcox.

In 1896 they moved to Los Angeles, where Norton quickly got involved with city "movers and shakers", joining the Chamber of Commerce, and multiple Clubs, including the Jonathan and California Clubs. By 1900 the family had moved into their upper-class home in West Adams. The Los Angeles Public Library has a photo of the house when brand new.  Ours below is from circa 1906.

834 West 28th Street - home of the Nortons
While in Los Angeles he no doubt worked with his neighbors -- two doors west was John Mackay Elliott's residence, and Norton and Elliott were both directors at the Los Angeles Trust Co. (along with George Cochran). Norton also created a new company that performed railroad building work, and invested in real estate, owning the Norton block at his death in 1911.

No doubt when Mr. Norton was with friends, he became known for his stories of the "old days", as the cartoon book "As We See 'Em" by local newspaper cartoonists, showed Norton in his stagecoach still (below).

Norton on the Trail

By 1910 Amy Marie had turned nineteen, so that December her Cotillon was held at the home at 834 W. 28th, resulting in the Society section of the next day's L.A. Herald featuring a photo of Amy Marie.

Amy Marie Dec. 20, 1910

Sadly, father John passed away the next February, but Mary remained in the house well into the 1930's. After John's passing she traveled abroad with one of her servants taking multiple trips to Hawaii.

Today the house is gone (it was probably torn down after Mary's death), and the location now shows allegiance to the nearby university, as the house of Delta Delta Delta (Theta Xi chapter).

Today at the Norton Residence
(courtesy of the author)





Update: A commenter (see below) spotted that the original house is behind the current facade--below is a closeup of the top of the round tower--the decoration appears to be the original...
A closeup of the tower
(courtesy of the author)

9 comments:

  1. Actually, this fabulous house wasn't demolished at all! It still exists on it's original site, behind the 1937 Delta Delta Delta facade. If you go behind you can still see the original structure. From the front the tower with cap, front door, and arch are still visible. Cheers!

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  2. Anonymous, well spotted! The front is asymmetrical because it covers the house as you say.
    Bing.com/maps with its Birds Eye View shows the old round tower very well.

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  3. John Norton was my husband's great-uncle. We have lots more info on the family if anyone is interested.

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    1. I'd be very interested. Besides working on the overall history of Los Angeles, I do walking tours of LA's forgotten Wild West days of the 1850's and 1860's (which lasted until the last train robberies in the Valley in the 1890's) along with compiling all the stores of all many Westerners who moved to LA.

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    2. In the Hollywood Forever Memorial Park private mausoleum of John H. Norton is the crypt of Bernard Edward Norton and the date Dec. 3, 1912. Do you know who he was?

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  4. Anonymous, thanks for your generous offer. Drop me a line via email (see my profile), or post additional info here that you think would be of interest.

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  5. @Bob Marlowe I believe Bernard was a younger brother, b. 1848, and residing in Graham Cy, AZ (but visiting the Norton residence) at the time of his death. He had one daughter, Mary, who married a Mr. Huston.

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    1. And as I found out a bit later, Bernard was visiting his daughter's home, not the Norton residence..

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  6. Hey, I found it. L.A. Herald, Dec. 4, 1912 - "Bernard E. Norton of Wilcox(sic), Ariz., died last evening at 10:30 o'clock at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Milton B. Huston, 1453 West Forty-sixth street. The death was due to sudden paralysis. Mr Norton, who was a brother of the late John Hubert Norton of Los Angeles, owned an immense cattle ranch sixty miles from Wilcox and came to Los Angeles to be with his daughter. He has passed much of his life in Los Angeles and has a host of friends here.
    The funeral services will be held at Bresee Brothers' in South Figueroa street, Friday morning."
    Thank You!
    Bob Marlowe

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