41 Westmoreland Place


  • Completed in 1905 on Lot 41 of the Westmoreland Place Tract by real estate developer Elden Patrick Bryan
  • Architect: Charles F. Whittlesey
  • The Los Angeles Express of May 27, 1905, offered a photograph and detailed description of the house, its exterior already largely completed: "Mr. Bryan's house is on the [northwest] corner of Easterly drive [today, Westmoreland Avenue] and Eleventh street. It is of the mission style of architecture, modified by English features.... The house is a two-story structure, with basement and attic. It is of heavy frame construction with cement plaster and gray sandstone exterior finish. The building covers a ground space about 80 feet front by 180 feet deep and will contain eighteen rooms besides the hallways and smaller rooms pertaining. It faces east, and the principal entrance is across a wide projecting porch that is surmounted by an archway. Passing through a massive doorway, one enters the main hall of the building, 20 by 40 feet. Opening into this is the library, about 20 by 39 feet; a reception room, 17 by 17 feet, with niches and bays; a den, 10 by 10 feet; a dining room, 20 by 40 feet. Connected with the latter is a butlery and a kitchen, 17 by 30 feet, and two servants' rooms with baths. Back of the great hallway is a garden porch, 13 by 30 feet, which looks out upon the Cahuenga valley and commands a beautiful view. The garden porch opens upon a garden court 38 by 43 feet that is to be filled with playing fountains and choice flowers, and is surrounded by a pergola. On the second floor is a family room 30 by 19 feet; a main chamber, 17 by 21 feet; a dressing room, 11 by 12 feet; a guest room, 17 by 21 feet; two sleeping rooms, 17 by 21 feet each; a palm room, 8 by 22 feet, and three bathrooms. A roof garden covers the garden porch and four window effects add to the attractiveness of this part of he dwelling."
  • Elden P. Bryan was born in East Texas on March 28, 1851, moving by the age of 19 with his family to Dallas, where he became a cotton buyer and grocer. Bryan did well in Dallas but he saw even bigger possibilites at the end of the Southern Pacific's southern transcontinental route, which opened in February 1883, sparking the Boom of the Eighties. The Los Angeles Herald reported Bryan's arrival in that city on December 14, 1885. He set himself up quickly as a Los Angeles real estate and insurance man, at first operating on his own but soon taking on Frank M. Kelsey as a partner. Another Dallas emigrant (and presumed prior acquaintance), Wesley Clark, was operating his own office in Los Angeles, and apparently to some degree in association with Bryan and Bryan's then partner Frank Kelsey; by 1893 Bryan & Kelsey had become Clark & Bryan. (Clark's name coming first on the new letterhead was perhaps due to an infusion of capital.) The new team dealt in downtown properties, but realizing the growth of Los Angeles to the southwest, the men established their residential Clark & Bryan Tract at the southeast corner of Eighth and San Pedro streets. Even as early as the mid '90s, affluent Angelenos had already begun leaving what was only just coming to be called Bunker Hill, where Bryan had built his Newsom-designed residence at 333 South Grand Avenue in 1888. Selling that house in February 1902, Bryan moved two blocks north to the Melrose Hotel, where he lived until 41 Westmoreland Place was completed in late 1905. In noting the sale, the Los Angeles Express of February 13, 1902, reported that Bryan "contemplates erecting a handsome residence for his family at the center of the Ballerino Heights tract," the Ballerino lands then being subdivided by Bryan, Clark, and their silent partner, railroad and property developer Henry E. Huntington. (In a particularly stark demonstration of Los Angeles's brief cycles of architectural usefulness, Bryan's 15-year-old Grand Street house was replaced with the Hotel Fleur-de-Lis in 1903)

A photograph of 41 Westmoreland Place
taken soon after its initial landscaping includes
one of the custom multi-globe lampposts designed
for the gated tract, above; below is a side view
of the house with plantings farther along.

  • Elden P. Bryan married Georgie Hendricks in Dallas on May 13, 1875; Bessie was born the following March and Minnie in June 1878. Within a few years the family settled into the Grand Avenue house, which, exclusive of the lot, was reported in the Herald on September 16, 1888, as having cost $10,000, indicating the considerable capital that flowed into Los Angeles during the 1880s. Despite waves of national financial panics during the '90s, Bryan and Wesley Clark became a formidable real estate team, each having grand ideas, if not perfect foresight, for property development and for their own domestic arrangements. Their big houses a block apart in Westmoreland Place were meant to house their families as much as to serve as showplaces to lure the very rich, locals and newcomers alike, but the men did better with their more middle-class subdivisions adjacent to the gated Place. Westmoreland Place would turn out to be their real estate Waterloo, the rich quickly adapting automobiles enabling more westerly residences in such developments as Berkeley Square. Though their showplaces would house their families for many years in the midst of vast acres of unimproved properties, the failure of Westmoreland Place was undeniable by the early 1910s
  • Bessie and Minnie Bryan were both, curiously, enumerated in the 1900 federal census as having been divorced. It seems, however, that Bessie's first and only marriage was to the man who replaced Wesley Clark not altogether as a force in the promotion of Westmoreland Place and Clark & Bryan's other developments but as Bryan's nominal partner in what became Bryan & Bradford. Bessie married Luther T. Bradford at 41 Westmoreland Place on the evening of November 6, 1906; the next day, the dissolution of the Clark & Bryan real estate partnership was announced in the press. Minnie Bryan's first (and only) marriage occurred in London on January 2, 1913. She was by now 34 years old; her groom was 41-year-old Dr. Edward Avery Newton, apparently a widower, who was at the time living in the spa town of Bad Nauheim, Germany. (Dr. Newton had visited Los Angeles a few years before and may have met Minnie there.) After their wedding, with Minnie residing temporarily in Berlin, Dr. Newton assisted in Red Cross work in Belgrade for several months before the couple returned to the United States in November 1913 to settle in Los Angeles, moving into 41 Westmoreland Place and then to Wesley Clark's Hotel Darby on Adams Street. Dr. Newton opened a practice downtown, later venturing into the livestock business—hogs—at his Arenal Ranch in what is today North Hollywood
  • June Bradford was born to Bessie and Luther on July 29, 1912; on September 20 of the following year, Bessie Bryan Bradford died at California Hospital following an operation. Luther, now 49, and June remained living at 41 Westmoreland Place with the Bryans until marrying 26-year-old June Mizener in October 1920. (The newlyweds and June then moved to Costa Mesa; Luther and Ruth Bradford would later live in San Marino and had a son and daughter of their own)
  • Georgie Bryan died at 41 Westmoreland Place on November 26, 1923, after a long illness. She was 69. While in the winter of 1921 E. P. Bryan was considered important enough and his bouts with bronchitis grave enough to be reported in the press, his death at home on September 5, 1925, was noted only by small paid obituaries

A closer side-street view of 41 Westmoreland Place, dated 1911, is seen in Robert G. Cowan's 1969
book A Backward Glance: Los Angeles 1901-1915. The photographer was Bryan's northerly
 neighbor at #37, George P. Thresher, who bought the first lot in the tract in 1904. 

  • Despite the real estate vicissitudes of E. P. Bryan's Westmoreland Place tract (as detailed in our Introduction), his family would remain at #41 through its days of obvious failure—with most lots unsold—through infighting with those who had bought lots and built houses in good faith when Bryan and his partners attempted to renege on their original covenants and build apartments within the gates of the tract in 1911, and even through the demolition of the tract's elaborate gates, the renaming of streets and address renumberings and the inevitable appearance of multi-unit buildings. After the death of the patriarch, Minnie and Avery Newton moved into the house, which, integrated into the larger city street grid, would now be addressed 1041 South Westmoreland Avenue
  • Dr. E. Avery Newton died following a heart attack at an Elks' meeting on December 11, 1930; his obituary in the Times two days later noted that he was "a specialist in the type of disease which caused his own death." Minnie Newton remained at 1041 South Westmoreland and was still living in the house when she died on July 15, 1937. Her mother's divorced sister, Anna Hendricks Lamonaca, had also been in residence at 1041 during the '30s, as would be, briefly, Bessie's daughter June Bradford
  • In a style that Evelyn Waugh would have appreciated, June Bradford married attorney Albert Lee Casey at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather chapel at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale on April 17, 1937. The couple would live at 1041 South Westmoreland until the house was sold in 1940
  • Classified advertisements in local papers appeared in early 1940 offering a "Beautiful 15-rm. mansion. 150x200 cor. Cost over $100,000. Now $16,000. 1041 S. Westmoreland." The final sale price is unknown but the numbers indicate the loss to the Bryan family over 35 years and indicate in stark terms the decline of the neighborhood as one of large single-family residences and further underscore the failure of Clark & Bryan's original plan for gated Westmoreland Place
  • A developer acquired 1041 South Westmoreland by the end of 1940; the house and garage themselves were sold to the well-known Whiting-Mead Company, wreckers and salvagers, which was issued demolition permits on March 4 and March 17, 1941, for the house and the garage, respectively. As soon as the lot was cleared, construction began on the mirror-twin two-story apartment buildings that sit on the site today; these were built in conjuction with two others, all designed by architect Ralph S. Loring, on a parcel comprised of Lots 37 and 41 of the original Westmoreland Place Tract. George Thresher had begun building 37 Westmoreland Place in 1904 alongside E. P. Bryan's 41; Thresher's family retained 37 (later 1037 South Westmoreland Avenue) until 1940, both houses giving way to apartments at the same time. Building contractor George Miller's name appears on the construction permits for new buildings, the addresses of which today range from 1019 to 1057 South Westmoreland Avenue 

A view north of the Bryan house from West 11th Street was
featured on postcards during its early years, as was an image of it
from the corner of 11th and Westmoreland Place as seen at top. some
cards identified the house as belonging to E. P. Bryan while others identify
it as "One of Our Beautiful California Homes." While much bigger and even
more eccentric, if not over the top, the house's sloping walls and half-
timbering are reminiscent of architect Charles Whittlesey's 1906
Longyear house at 3555 Wilshire Boulevard. Below, a kitty-
corner view of 41 seen on half of a stereopticon card.

Illustrations: Private Collection; Howard C. Tibbits/The Homestead Blog; UCR ARTS;
A Backward Glance: Los Angeles 1901-1915