"While his early experience was largely along the lines of manufacturing and contracting, he has shown what amounts to a genius in the handling and developing of immense properties, especially ranches, in California, and few men could claim a greater share of credit for the immense fruit and agricultural production than Mr. Hole."Pretty heady stuff, no doubt--but maybe he really did live up to the hype.
Willitts grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, then attended and graduated from Chattanooga University, moving to Indiana to work in a chair factory. Taking notes, he three years later began a chair factory, planing mill, and lumber yard in another Indiana city, and later expanded into the general construction business (sounds like a developer!).
In 1893 he came to Southern California due to his wife Mary's (1865-1938) health. Their only child Agnes (1890-1966) completed the family. Upon arriving in California, Willitts went to Whittier and began buying land in the La Habra Valley, paying $25 to $35 per acre. Below is a photo of Agnes outside their La Habra home ca. 1897:
|courtesy of cdlib.org|
You couldn't really expect the family to stay out in the country (see above image)--so they moved to fashionable West Sixth Street where by January, 1906 Mrs. Hole was entertaining Los Angeles society in their new, modern, colonial-style house (shown below):
|1907 West Sixth St. in 1909|
|Miss Agnes Hole|
Something clicked somewhere because by April, 1910 the society pages of the L.A. Herald announced the engagement of daughter Agnes to Samuel Rindge. The article included a photo of Agnes, shown at right.
The Holes continue to live at 1907 W. Sixth throughout the 1910's, sharing their time with another bungalow house they had built on their La Sierra property outside Riverside.
|Passport photo 1920|
By 1923 the Holes had left the Sixth Avenue property, and it was soon demolished to put up the new Hotel Californian. Consisting of 201 rooms, the hotel supported the area first as a hotel, then as apartments as the neighborhood became seedy.
By 1930 Willitts and Mary had purchased a large home a few blocks away from Agnes and Samuel near the Wilshire Country Club, but they continued to also reside in Arlington, where in 1936 Willitts died from a heart attack. Mary was to pass away two years later--both were buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Riverside.
After Mary's death, Agnes gave her parents' art collection of paintings to UCLA, where it was recognized in the '60s and '70s, but seems to be non-existent on today's UCLA web site.
And the Hotel Californian?
|Hotel Californian in Happier Times |
By 1994 the City of Los Angeles forced the owners to close the hotel, and demolition came to the site once again.Today all that's left is a neon sign near Griffith Park .
|Today at 1907 W. Sixth St. (courtesy of maps.google.com)|
The Hole Mansion is but a memory.
Mrs. Mary Hole, 1909
The Back Yard in 1913
Article on the Hotel Californian with photos of the sign