Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2433 South Flower -- Mission Style

While your author is not any kind of amateur architect, this house's style was not difficult to figure out. Check out this side-by-side comparison:


Built in 1901, this house has the distinction of being listed in a 1906 version of the original book with one owner, then under a different owner in 1910. The first owner was Reuben G. Simons, part of a successful brick-making family. He moved in in 1901 with three sons John W., Ralph, and Harold W.  The house ca. 1905:

 (courtesy of archive.org)

The house was built on an unusually large lot, with additional living in back, as well as two flats out of frame left in the photo above. 

In 1906 Simons sold the house to Wiltcie B. Ames (1869-1942), a Wisconsin-born, self-made lawyer who came to Los Angeles in 1905 via Spokane and Oregon, where he picked up his law degree at the University of Oregon.  One of his early businesses was the Ames Mercantile Agency which figured prominently in his life a few years later.

About this same time C.C. Pierce was taking many fabulous photos of the area of residences in the new areas of L.A. south of downtown along Figueroa. One of them was the Ames residence, taken between 1906 and 1908.

2433 S. Flower ca. 1907
(courtesy of USC Digital Collections)

As can be seen above, the house added a new awning and a small border for a flower bed underneath the front porch since the last "viewing". No doubt it comfortably fit Wiltcie, his wife Caroline Rachel (1873-1921) and their three children.

When Ames was approached to be in the Greater Los Angeles and Southern California book, 1910 version, someone must have promised a new photo, for this is what was posted:
Wiltcie B.Ames Residence 1910
An auto was added, the side yard was cut back, and plants now appear under the front porch and window. But a funny thing happened on the way to publishing.  Seems that in July, 1909 Ames decided to do a swap sale on the house.  He sold it to Joseph Metzler of Metzler Investment company for $48,000, which included the building next door, which seemed a bit overpriced until one reads a few columns over.  It seems that "W.B. Ames, president of the City and County bank, has added to his country holdings by the purchase of a 40-acre alfalfa and apple ranch belonging to Joseph Metzler of the Metzler Investment company, to add to his investment in a fruit farm in San Dimas. The price, $80,000, includes stock and personal property." Why would you pay $80,000 in 1909 for a ranch located five miles from Victorville? I don't know the details either, but the answer may lie in the next found article about Mr. Ames.

In August, 1910 W.B., as part owner of the L.A. Savings, Mortgage, and Trust company, was sued by the state attorney general alleging that state commissioners for the building and loans "found its business unsafe and unauthorized."  They declared the concern insolvent, and asked that no business be transacted until the court heard the case. By this time W.B. and family were living in the bay area--it must have been too hot to stay in L.A. By September W.B.'s banking business appeared to be "out of business." By 1916, W.B. and family show up at the family fruit farm in San Dimas, where W.B. lived until the death of wife Ethel in 1921.

Meanwhile Irving and Hannah Metzler (relations, no doubt to Joseph) lived at 2433 S. Flower. They move on and in 1922 Arthur and Guadalupe Wright move in, where they remain past Arthur's passing during WWII.

The Los Angeles Children's Orthopedic Hospital, established about 10 years after our house was built, slowly over time took over the block on the east side of Flower Street, changing its character. That and the Harbor Freeway were probable major factors in the demolition of the house by 1956.  Today it would be found over the Harbor Freeway just before it cuts under Flower Street.

2433 S. Flower St. today--about where you see the star.


A fanciful W.B. Ames in 1910

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