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Liz Kuball

Mapped: The historic, stately homes of West Adams Boulevard

In about 2 miles, there’s a lot to see

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West Adams Boulevard runs through some of the most sought-after neighborhoods of 20th century Los Angeles.

Doctors, successful entrepreneurs, lawyers, and well-off widows commissioned houses here in styles ranging from Italian Gothic to Alpine Craftsman to Georgian Revival. The neighborhoods have, like the rest of the city, seen highs and lows, but many grand homes have survived and are still standing on the boulevard.

Here we've selected 13 city-designated Historic-Cultural Monuments and other important historic homes along or slightly off West Adams that show not only a range of architectural styles, but also an array of reuses—private residence, a Six Feet Under set, meditation space and labyrinth.

Keep in mind that, unless noted otherwise, the mansions listed here are mostly closed to the public, so gawking from the sidewalk will have to do. The complete route amounts to a modest 2 miles so you can take all the houses in in one pleasant stroll.

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Dryden Residence

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A really lovely Georgian Revival, this estate was designed by architect Charles E. Shattuck. Shattuck also designed the Craftsman house where cosmetics mogul Max Factor lived in Boyle Heights. The 1913 house was built for Ada A. Dryden. It held with 12 rooms and a “Tobasco and Peruvian mahogany interior.”

Los Angeles/Creative Commons

Briggs Residence

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Built for the mother-in-law of Dr. Granville MacGowan, whose family had the home next door, the Briggs Residence was built so that people could flow easily between the two large Alpine Craftsman houses. The mansions were built “within months of each other” by the firm Hudson & Munsell. Now owned by the same organization that saved the Guasti Mansion, the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, the Briggs Residence is closed to the public and serves as housing for MSIA employees.

Los Angeles/Creative Commons

Hauerwaas Kusayanagi Residence

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Given monument status for its Mission Revival Craftsman style, the single-family Hauerwaas house was built in 1914 for Lucy Hauerwaas, the widow of John A. Hauerwaas, a real estate investor.

Among the house's exceptional details are a flat roof, a serrated parapet, and an arching portico, says the report for its Historic-Cultural Monument status. The house was purchased in 1937 by second generation Japanese-American Dr. Masako Kusayanagi, who stayed there with her family until they were forced to move to the Manzanar internment camp during World War II.

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Guasti Villa/Busby Berkeley Estate

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This vast Beaux Arts/Italian Renaissance Revival palace was built between 1910 and 1914 by winery owner Secundo Guasti. So prominent and successful was Guasti that Mussolini even visited him at this mansion.

The grand home had marble pillars and chandeliers, and a richly ornamented interior. Alas, by 1946, Guasti owed back taxes in the six-figure range, so he sold the house and everything in it. It was sort of neglected from a preservation standpoint until about 1974, when the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness bought the property set to work restoring it to use as their headquarters.

Now called the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, the property is open to the public, and tours of the ground floor of the mansion are available.

Gordon L. McDonough House

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This landmark Craftsman was designed by noted architect Frank M. Tyler in 1908; the name comes from a senator who lived in the house. The house sold in August 2015. Listing photos from that time show a fantastically restored building. The house has original wainscoting, beamed ceilings, butler's pantry, fireplace, staircase, and built-in bookcases.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

Glen Lukens Home and Studio

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If you love a good comeback story, look no further. This house, designed by pioneering midcentury Modernist Raphael Soriano for ceramicist Glen Lukens, was so badly deteriorated in the late aughts that in 2006 it was declared a nuisance by the city. (Curbed got a tour inside in 2010 and, sadly, concurred.)

Luckily, the house was purchased by someone with the foresight and cash to give it the to-the-studs restoration it so badly needed. By 2012, it had made an astounding recovery and become a fantastic, livable showpiece.

Walker Mansion

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Designed by in-demand architect Charles Whittlesey for William Barker of the Barker Brothers furniture company. (You might be familiar with the Arts District lofts that used to be their furniture factory and warehouse.)

This residence, completed in 1906, is now a church, so it might be easy to get close for a better look.

Fitzgerald House

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The witchy, wonderful, Italian Gothic and Queen Anne manor that is the Fitzgerald House is arguably one of the most visually exciting structures on this list. The house is said to have “a cellar and attic, an octagonal sunken den with fireplace and vaulted ceilings,” and even an inglenook, the built-in nook with benches on either side of the fireplace.

The mansion dates to 1903, and was built for “music store mogul” James T. Fitzgerald by architect Joseph Cather Newsom, who also designed the incredible and long-gone Bradbury Mansion on Bunker Hill.

Located on a corner lot, the fantastic house has been a private residence, a home for retired actors, and a kind of community center. (It once hosted catering for the cast of Soul Train!) It was on and off the market for seven years before selling in 2015 for $1.4 million.

A post shared by Roman A Oulko (@roman_a_oulko) on

Auguste R. Marquis Residence

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Built in 1904, this Eastlake- and Queen Anne-style house was created for Auguste Rodolphe Marquis, a Swiss native who came into wealth through his work with a gold mining company based in Death Valley.

After World War II, the house was purchased by General Hilario Camino Moncado—a native of the Philippines and the founder of the Filipino Federation of America, which uses the house now. The Marquis Residence famously appeared as the Fisher & Sons Mortuary (Fisher-Diaz as the series went on) in the HBO show Six Feet Under.

A post shared by • Gaëlle • (@lleiska) on

Wells-Halliday Mansion

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The Dutch Colonial-style Wells-Halliday Mansion was built in 1901 for Eliza W. Halliday, the widow of Captain William Parker Halliday, a “Civil War millionaire.” Ms. Halliday seemed to keep residence in the 12-room estate until about 1920.

From 1993 until 2006, it was run as a hospice for men with AIDS. A 1993 Los Angeles Times article from when the hospice opened described the house's “warm wood paneling, colorfully stenciled floors and Arts and Crafts tiled fireplaces.” The dwelling's gambrel roof is still visible over the wall of hedges along Adams Boulevard.

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Britt Mansion and Formal Gardens

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This 1910 mansion was designed by architect Alfred F. Rosenheim of the American Horror Story house fame for prominent lawyer Eugene W. Britt. The house is now the offices of the LA84 Foundation, “endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games,” and is home of the world's largest library for sports research.

A post shared by LA84 (@la84foundation) on

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company

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Designed by prolific and prominent African-American architect Paul Revere Williams in the Late Moderne style, this building at West Adams and Western was the one-time office of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company.

It was the first company to offer life insurance to black Americans and “by 1945 was the largest black-owned business west of the Mississippi River,” says the Los Angeles Conservancy.

Williams also drew up the two large murals for the lobby that illustrate “the experience of African Americans in California from 1527 to 1949.” They were painted by two African American artists, Charles Alston and Hale Woodruff. One mural can be seen here.

Downtowngal/Creative Commons

Hattie McDaniels Residence

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This house is not exactly on West Adams Boulevard, but if you’re already in the area, it’s worth walking a couple of blocks off the path to see the Mediterranean mansion of legendary entertainer Hattie McDaniel—the first black actor to win an Oscar. (She won in 1939 for her role in Gone With The Wind.)

McDaniel’s former estate sits in a neighborhood called Sugar Hill that was once a popular area for wealthy African Americans.

McDaniel was known as a fantastic hostess, and she frequently held parties in the house that were attended by the elites of black Hollywood. While she lived here, she also helped mount a court case that laid the groundwork for the Fair Housing Act. The Sugar Hill neighborhood was cut in half when the 10 Freeway was built.

Liz Kuball

Dryden Residence

Los Angeles/Creative Commons

A really lovely Georgian Revival, this estate was designed by architect Charles E. Shattuck. Shattuck also designed the Craftsman house where cosmetics mogul Max Factor lived in Boyle Heights. The 1913 house was built for Ada A. Dryden. It held with 12 rooms and a “Tobasco and Peruvian mahogany interior.”

Los Angeles/Creative Commons

Briggs Residence

Los Angeles/Creative Commons

Built for the mother-in-law of Dr. Granville MacGowan, whose family had the home next door, the Briggs Residence was built so that people could flow easily between the two large Alpine Craftsman houses. The mansions were built “within months of each other” by the firm Hudson & Munsell. Now owned by the same organization that saved the Guasti Mansion, the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, the Briggs Residence is closed to the public and serves as housing for MSIA employees.

Los Angeles/Creative Commons

Hauerwaas Kusayanagi Residence

Google Maps

Given monument status for its Mission Revival Craftsman style, the single-family Hauerwaas house was built in 1914 for Lucy Hauerwaas, the widow of John A. Hauerwaas, a real estate investor.

Among the house's exceptional details are a flat roof, a serrated parapet, and an arching portico, says the report for its Historic-Cultural Monument status. The house was purchased in 1937 by second generation Japanese-American Dr. Masako Kusayanagi, who stayed there with her family until they were forced to move to the Manzanar internment camp during World War II.

Google Maps

Guasti Villa/Busby Berkeley Estate

This vast Beaux Arts/Italian Renaissance Revival palace was built between 1910 and 1914 by winery owner Secundo Guasti. So prominent and successful was Guasti that Mussolini even visited him at this mansion.

The grand home had marble pillars and chandeliers, and a richly ornamented interior. Alas, by 1946, Guasti owed back taxes in the six-figure range, so he sold the house and everything in it. It was sort of neglected from a preservation standpoint until about 1974, when the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness bought the property set to work restoring it to use as their headquarters.

Now called the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, the property is open to the public, and tours of the ground floor of the mansion are available.

Gordon L. McDonough House

Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

This landmark Craftsman was designed by noted architect Frank M. Tyler in 1908; the name comes from a senator who lived in the house. The house sold in August 2015. Listing photos from that time show a fantastically restored building. The house has original wainscoting, beamed ceilings, butler's pantry, fireplace, staircase, and built-in bookcases.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

Glen Lukens Home and Studio

If you love a good comeback story, look no further. This house, designed by pioneering midcentury Modernist Raphael Soriano for ceramicist Glen Lukens, was so badly deteriorated in the late aughts that in 2006 it was declared a nuisance by the city. (Curbed got a tour inside in 2010 and, sadly, concurred.)

Luckily, the house was purchased by someone with the foresight and cash to give it the to-the-studs restoration it so badly needed. By 2012, it had made an astounding recovery and become a fantastic, livable showpiece.

Walker Mansion

Designed by in-demand architect Charles Whittlesey for William Barker of the Barker Brothers furniture company. (You might be familiar with the Arts District lofts that used to be their furniture factory and warehouse.)

This residence, completed in 1906, is now a church, so it might be easy to get close for a better look.

Fitzgerald House

The witchy, wonderful, Italian Gothic and Queen Anne manor that is the Fitzgerald House is arguably one of the most visually exciting structures on this list. The house is said to have “a cellar and attic, an octagonal sunken den with fireplace and vaulted ceilings,” and even an inglenook, the built-in nook with benches on either side of the fireplace.

The mansion dates to 1903, and was built for “music store mogul” James T. Fitzgerald by architect Joseph Cather Newsom, who also designed the incredible and long-gone Bradbury Mansion on Bunker Hill.

Located on a corner lot, the fantastic house has been a private residence, a home for retired actors, and a kind of community center. (It once hosted catering for the cast of Soul Train!) It was on and off the market for seven years before selling in 2015 for $1.4 million.

A post shared by Roman A Oulko (@roman_a_oulko) on

Auguste R. Marquis Residence

Built in 1904, this Eastlake- and Queen Anne-style house was created for Auguste Rodolphe Marquis, a Swiss native who came into wealth through his work with a gold mining company based in Death Valley.

After World War II, the house was purchased by General Hilario Camino Moncado—a native of the Philippines and the founder of the Filipino Federation of America, which uses the house now. The Marquis Residence famously appeared as the Fisher & Sons Mortuary (Fisher-Diaz as the series went on) in the HBO show Six Feet Under.

A post shared by • Gaëlle • (@lleiska) on

Wells-Halliday Mansion

Google Maps

The Dutch Colonial-style Wells-Halliday Mansion was built in 1901 for Eliza W. Halliday, the widow of Captain William Parker Halliday, a “Civil War millionaire.” Ms. Halliday seemed to keep residence in the 12-room estate until about 1920.

From 1993 until 2006, it was run as a hospice for men with AIDS. A 1993 Los Angeles Times article from when the hospice opened described the house's “warm wood paneling, colorfully stenciled floors and Arts and Crafts tiled fireplaces.” The dwelling's gambrel roof is still visible over the wall of hedges along Adams Boulevard.

Google Maps

Britt Mansion and Formal Gardens

This 1910 mansion was designed by architect Alfred F. Rosenheim of the American Horror Story house fame for prominent lawyer Eugene W. Britt. The house is now the offices of the LA84 Foundation, “endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games,” and is home of the world's largest library for sports research.

A post shared by LA84 (@la84foundation) on

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company

Downtowngal/Creative Commons

Designed by prolific and prominent African-American architect Paul Revere Williams in the Late Moderne style, this building at West Adams and Western was the one-time office of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company.

It was the first company to offer life insurance to black Americans and “by 1945 was the largest black-owned business west of the Mississippi River,” says the Los Angeles Conservancy.

Williams also drew up the two large murals for the lobby that illustrate “the experience of African Americans in California from 1527 to 1949.” They were painted by two African American artists, Charles Alston and Hale Woodruff. One mural can be seen here.

Downtowngal/Creative Commons

Hattie McDaniels Residence

Liz Kuball

This house is not exactly on West Adams Boulevard, but if you’re already in the area, it’s worth walking a couple of blocks off the path to see the Mediterranean mansion of legendary entertainer Hattie McDaniel—the first black actor to win an Oscar. (She won in 1939 for her role in Gone With The Wind.)

McDaniel’s former estate sits in a neighborhood called Sugar Hill that was once a popular area for wealthy African Americans.

McDaniel was known as a fantastic hostess, and she frequently held parties in the house that were attended by the elites of black Hollywood. While she lived here, she also helped mount a court case that laid the groundwork for the Fair Housing Act. The Sugar Hill neighborhood was cut in half when the 10 Freeway was built.

Liz Kuball