Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garden Cities at Risk CHAPTER FOUR: Wyvernwood and the "Hostetter Tract"

Part of a series on the Wyvernwood community, the sister city to Baldwin Hills Village/Village Green.


Boyle Heights, 1877, with Los Angeles in the distance

The land on which Wyvernwood now sits has had a long and interesting history. Known today as Boyle Heights, during the Spanish Colonial era it was known as “Paredon Blanco” (White Bluffs), and was considered rather remote from Los Angeles, being separated from the little town by the Los Angeles River. For decades it was primarily inhabited by the Rubio and Lopez families, but in 1858 Andrew Boyle (1818-1871) purchased a large tract from the Lopez family, building himself a brick house and opening a business. 

William Workman's second home in Boyle Heights.
Boyle Heights History Blog
After he died, Boyle’s daughter and her husband William Workman (1839-1918) began to subdivide part of Boyle’s property, calling the area Boyle Heights. During the late Victorian period, Boyle Heights became a fashionable place to live, but over time the area became known primarily as an industrial center, and also as a gateway for immigrants who might otherwise be restricted from certain sections of Los Angeles. This resulted in a widely varied and thriving community, comprised of nearly every ethnicity and religion, unique in Los Angeles in the years prior to World War II.

The actual parcel of land on which Wyvernwood was eventually built was known for generations as the “Hostetter Tract,” the land being obtained by the Hostetter family of Pittsburgh for next to nothing, as payment to settle a bad debt.

Conceived by two visionary businessmen, the creation of the Wyvernwood community was possible not only because of their foresight and entrepreneurial savvy, but also because of the unique set of circumstances happening during their time. Like Witmer & Watson and Hammond Sadler, the artistic geniuses responsible for the successful and innovative design of Wyvernwood, these two exceptional businessmen - D. Herbert Hostetter, and the son-in-law he probably never met, John S. Griffith – are largely forgotten today, but were well-known and respected during their lifetimes.  Though both grew up with wealth and privilege, they shared a common goal in the idealistic communities they both envisioned, communities which they hoped might bring modern, superior living conditions and shared open green spaces to the middle class.  

Hostetter's Stomach Bitters advertisement, 1880's.


D. Herbert Hostetter
There was a bitters boom during the mid-19th Century, due to the growing temperance movement, as well as to expanding taxation and restrictions on the sale of liquor. The Hostetter family fortune was built on bitters. By adding small amounts of herbal bitters to concoctions consisting mostly of gin or whiskey, “medicinal” bitters were merely alcohol disguised as medicine, the alcohol content promoted as vital, necessary to "preserve the medicinal properties of the vegetable extracts in a fluid state."

D. Herbert Hostetter's grandfather, Dr. Jacob Hostetter of Lancaster, Pennsylvania developed a recipe for bitters (consisting of chincona bark, quinine, colombo and gentian root) which he distributed to his patients. Dr. Hostetter’s son, David Hostetter - returning to Pittsburgh after successfully striking it rich in the Gold Rush of ’49 - put Dr. Hostetter’s bitters formula into mass production beginning in 1853. In partnership with George W. Smith, the Hostetter & Smith Company’s Dr. Hostetter’s Celebrated Stomach Bitters was an immediate success, due partly to the fact that it was about 47% alcohol, and 94 Proof!  During the Civil War, Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters were purchased by the Union army by the box car load, and used by soldiers as a “positive protective against the fatal maladies of the Southern swamps, and the poisonous tendency of the impure rivers and bayous.”[i] While just one bottle of this miracle elixir "creates an appetite, forces off impure bile and purifies the system,” “Two bottles cures bad livers and lends strength and cheerfulness.”

After partner Smith died in 1874, the Hostetter & Company continued to prosper. As alcohol prices rose, the alcohol content was cut – though the spirits were still strong enough that when alcohol was banned in Alaska, saloon proprietors began selling Hostetter’s by the glass! Eventually, Hostetter branched out to other lucrative ventures, becoming a pioneer in oil and natural gas, founding the Fort Pitt National Bank, and becoming a director in the Farmers Deposit National Bank. He also promoted railroad construction and did much toward the building of the P. & L. E. Railroad.

David Hostetter’s son, David Herbert (D. Herbert) was born August 31, 1859. Taught by private tutors, he eventually studied for a year at Heidelberg University, returning to Pittsburgh where he graduated from Duff’s College. Diligent and capable, he was trained as the heir apparent to the Hostetter fortune, and began to build the brand, spending large sums on advertising, in addition to expanding the popular Illustrated Hostetter’s Almanac, exploiting its effectiveness as an entertaining marketing tool. D. Herbert married Miss Miriam R. Gerdes in 1887. 

The elder David Hostetter died in November, 1888, leaving D. Herbert in charge of his personal estate, valued (outside of real estate holdings) at $6,635,322.19, to be distributed to his wife and three children.[ii] Shortly thereafter, D. Herbert took hold of the many business interests of his father, and in 1889 he formed a corporation, naming himself president. He proved to be an astute business leader, and the company prospered as never before.

Gradually, however, Hostetter’s business interests changed, and he passed off much of the management of the various other Hostetter ventures, choosing to focus his efforts on the Hostetter’s Bitters company.

D. Herbert and Miriam Hostetter had four children – D. Herbert, Jr., Fred, Miriam and Helene. It was said that D. Herbert “held as clear and definite ideas about the bringing up of children as he did about the bringing up to full efficiency of those famous bitters from which the wealth of the family is mainly derived.” 

D. Herbert, Jr. and his surprise bride
A very thoughtful and involved parent, “most eagerly concerned with their welfare,” he believed that “a great deal of the trouble in the world comes from too early or willful romances. Therefore, if one kept a boy always with boys and away from the girls,” and vice versa, that “love’s disturbing element could not enter into their lives. It was all very simple. Yet, alas for Papa Hostetter’s precautions, and doubly alas for his logic. He has had a bitter disillusionment!” First, in 1912, young D. Herbert, Jr., a junior at Princeton, ran off and married Miss Margaret Brown, a girl the family had never met. He got the full Hostetter wrath, until the family realized that the Browns of St. Louis “were leaders in the most fashionable set of that city, belonged, indeed to the truly elect, and that their son, despite his defiance of Papa Hostetter’s theories, had secured a real prize.”

The much married Miriam
V. Hostetter
Fortunately, the next to marry, Hostetter's other son Frederick G. "was conservatively and decorously wedded to a girl that Papa Hostetter and Mamma Hostetter thoroughly approved of." 

Papa Hostetter was not so lucky with daughter Miriam, however, for she suddenly eloped in 1920 with a young man named Malcolm Smith, amidst rumors of "rope ladders, an awaiting swift automobile, all the scenery of the real old fashioned elopement, with modern invention to aid." Hostetter needn't have worried, as Mr. Smith would be jettisoned shortly thereafter, replaced by at least three more husbands in the years to come.[iii]

That left one daughter, pretty and popular Helene, “a slip of a girl of sixteen." All the hopes of the Hostetters now rested on her, "so the whole interesting situation may at the last break “fifty-fifty” for the seclusion theory after all.” Time would prove this to be true, and it was through her marriage to a man her father never met (though of whom he would have been very proud) that the Hostetter fortune would continue to thrive and prosper.

Hostetter’s riches allowed him to indulge in the finer things in life, things like his several estates – the family mansion in Pittsburgh, an apartment in New York, summer houses in East Hampton, New York and Beverly, Massachusetts (named, by the way, “Wyvernwood” – which is how the community got such a peculiar name), and finally in the 1890’s, a large and elegant winter estate at 463 South Orange Grove avenue in Pasadena, where, for the next thirty years, the Hostetters gave  some spectacular parties and events.

D. Herbert Hostetter was widely known as a sportsman. He was one of the first members of the Pasadena Golf Club, was a champion tennis player, a breeder of “blooded horses,” active in trap-shooting circles, and was a member of “the Heron Gun Club of Pennsylvania, the Midwick Country Club of Pasadena, the New York Yacht Club and the East Hampton Club of Long Island, New York.”[ix]

And, like most modern millionaires, Hostetter also had a fondness for fine machines. He had an exceptional yacht, the Kestill II, which he donated to the government during World War I for war uses, and was known to always have the latest in automobile technology.

D. Herbert's final automobile purchase, a 1924 Doble Steamer,
Chassis #11, Model "E" California Hard-top
Phaeton, body by Murphy. Present owner is
Mr. William Lloyd of Australia.

D. Herbert Hostetter's yacht, Kestrell II, was built in 1912
and borrowed during World War I by the U.S. Navy
for use as a section patrol, watching over Long Island
Sound for the duration. She was returned to Hostetter
upon War's end.

D. Herbert Hostetter began coming to Southern California for the benefit of his health, staying first at the St. Elmo Hotel in Los Angeles, and later at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, before building his own stately home in Pasadena.[iv] Years earlier (probably around 1870), the Hostetter & Smith company had taken a large piece of worthless “waste land” in what is now known as Boyle Heights as payment on a bad bitters debt of $1,000. That piece of land, known from then on as the “Hostetter Tract,” would prove to be a good investment.  While Hostetter was on a restorative trip to Los Angeles in 1888, he sold “the worst half of that piece of ground for $900,000.”[v]

D. Herbert Hostetter remained active, industrious and prosperous for years, but the stress of running an empire eventually began to take its toll, and he began to feel unwell. He closed down his Pittsburgh mansion in November, 1923, coming to his Pasadena house to recuperate for an extended period. He was accompanied by his wife Miriam and daughter Helene.

While he was supposed to be recovering his health in Southern California, as usual Hostetter couldn't bear to remain idle, finally having the time to think about developing his vast and mostly wide open Hostetter Tract. Plans had recently been approved for the construction of a Ninth Street Bridge (later renamed the Olympic Boulevard Bridge, in honor of the 1932 Olympics), which would directly connect the Hostetter tract to downtown Los Angeles to the west, making his land “one of the most valued pieces of property in the city. Not only is the Hostetter Tract regarded as valuable because of its size, which embraces 370 acres, but also on account of its strategic position with relation to the immediate development of the industrial district on the east side.”[vi] In addition to a “high-class industrial district,” Hostetter planned to create a residential section in close proximity, which was heralded as an “important phase of the development plans and this with the eastward trend of the downtown business area is believed to signify rapid development of property.”

His ideas for this new residential community showed Hostetter to be a prescient and forward-thinking innovator, with plans to build and personally finance 750 “modern homes,” the layout of which would use an unconventional design. Hostetter believed that “the average family who rents is missing a lot of happiness in life because of inadequate living conditions.” He visualized “homes that were far more modern and well maintained – homes located on spacious grounds – with plenty of fresh air and sunlight – and above all, homes where it was possible to relax in quiet and comfort and where the family could really enjoy the benefits of outdoor living.” The houses were described as “unique in design, modern to the minute, and each a part of a community improvement plan which will appeal instantly to every average American family. The prices and terms will be just as attractive as the homes.” Even more inspired, compared to the traditional arrangement, Hostetter’s plan turned the houses around, where “the rear of the house faced the street and where the front faced huge recreation and garden areas,” predating Clarence Stein’s similar ideas at Radburn by a couple of years.[vii]

Unfortunately, Hostetter’s unique vision for an idealized mixed-use community was not to be. On the morning of Saturday, September 28, 1924, D. Herbert Hostetter suffered a fatal heart attack at home in Pasadena. After a funeral in Pasadena, his body was sent back to Pittsburgh for burial. His estate was valued at $4,469,373.27, half of which would go to his widow Miriam, the rest to his four children.[viii] 

Artist's rendition of the multi-million dollar Sears-Roebuck Company
building, 1927
Though work was temporarily halted on the Hostetter Tract development following his death, with the property tied up in probate litigation, the affairs of the estate were in order by 1927, and it was announced on January 16th that the “formal opening of the Hostetter Industrial tract took place last week and thus far the sales have exceeded $3,500,000,” the anchor of which would be a ten-story state-of-the-art Sears-Roebuck Company building. “The fact that the Sears-Roebuck Company selected a site in this tract for its new building emphasizes that big commercial organizations throughout the eastern part of the country are realizing the fact that Los Angeles is the coming industrial center.”[x] 

Though the residential idea seems to have been discarded, I.D. Budd, an executive in charge of the subdivision of the tract said that “there are other deals involving millions of dollars now pending, the details of which will be forthcoming as soon as negotiations are closed.”[xi] The California Produce Terminal was soon announced, a large industrial plant covering three city blocks, at a cost of $2,500,000. “The proximity of the property to Seventh and Broadway, which is only two and one-half miles distant and can be reached within ten minutes time, is one of its great assets.”[xii] By April of 1927, sales of 597 business sites amounted to $4,225,000, and it was reported that sales at the Hostetter Industrial Tract “in all probability will hang up a new record of Los Angeles in the sale of business sites in industrial subdivisions.”[xiii]

The Sears-Roebuck Company building, Hostetter Tract, 1927. At the time, the building was a landmark beacon,
seen for miles around. That is still true today, and the tower can be seen from many areas within Wyvernwood. (LAPL)
While the incredible development and growth was temporarily halted by 1929 with the onset of the Great Depression, it was that “little slip of a girl,” Hostetter’s youngest daughter Helene, who would ultimately determine the fate of the Hostetter tract, by choosing a husband who would have made her father very, very proud. His name was John S. Griffith, an up-and-coming young man from a well-established Los Angeles family. His vision brought Hostetter’s dream of an idealized residential community back to life, and with his contacts and finesse, and the financial breakthroughs of the day, he was able to improve upon Hostetter’s ideas.


John S. Griffith, a second-generation native of Los Angeles, came from one of the city's earliest and most respected families.  His grandfather, John McKim (“J.M.”) Griffith (1829-1906) was one of Los Angeles’ pioneer residents, and was regarded as one of its most enterprising and energetic merchants.  At the time of his death, J.M. Griffith was described as one of Los Angeles' “most public-spirited men, a citizen who has been foremost for nearly half a century in almost every undertaking for the upbuilding of the city’s interests."

Born in Baltimore, J.M. Griffith gave in to the urge to “Go West” during the Gold Rush, later “trading with the Indians at Vancouver.” He then settled in Sacramento and was engaged in freighting on the Sacramento River. In Sacramento, he met and married Miss Sarah Ann Tomlinson in 1857, and it was there that they had a daughter, Alice. 

The Griffiths moved to Los Angeles in 1862, when it was no more than a “little pueblo.” After settling into an adobe home, Griffith went into the transportation business with his brother-in-law John Tomlinson, conducting a stagecoach line between the harbor at San Pedro and Los Angeles, their main competitor being Phineas Banning. Griffith soon became involved in the young city, and it was said that he was a “powerful factor, not only in the material affairs of the city, but also in every movement made for the betterment of education facilities and for the moral improvement of the community through church organizations.” The Griffiths had three more children after arriving in Los Angeles, sons Howard, Fred and John Tomlinson Griffith.

John M. Griffith, and the first modern house
in Los Angeles
In addition to his thriving transportation and freight company, in 1868 Griffith established a lumber business, later partnering with J. Lynch in the lumber firm Griffith Lynch & Co. That partnership lasted for several years.

Perhaps Los Angeles’ first “modernist,” when he built a large house for his family in 1869 (“the first two-story residence ever put up in the city”), it was considered at the time “the first modern house erected in Los Angeles.” [xiv]

Griffith was a Master Mason, an Odd Fellow, a member of the California Club, Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles Board of Trade. He helped create the California Red Cross Association. He also served one term as City Park Commissioner, was elected to the Los Angeles County Supervisors and was appointed commissioner of Yosemite Valley by Governor George Stoneman. Proud of his status as one of Los Angeles pioneers, in 1897 he created - and was President of - the “Pioneers of Los Angeles County.” He died in 1906 [xv]

Griffith’s son, John Tomlinson Griffith (1868-1943), was also important in early Los Angeles development. In 1892 he established the John T. Griffith Company, a Real Estate and Insurance business, specializing in “High Class Business and Residential Property.” His offices were in the Wilcox Building.

In October, 1895, the successful young John T. Griffith married Miss Adele Josephine Wedemeyer (1869-1942), daughter of Major and Mrs. William G. Wedemeyer. They had two sons, William H. Griffith and John Stevenson Griffith.

The announcement of the creation of Griffith-Wagenseller & Co, 1927

John S. Griffith, who would later mastermind the Wyvernwood community, was born February 19, 1901, graduating in 1919 from Los Angeles High School. By 1922, he had purchased a Standard Oil service station, which he ran for several years, before going into the booming stocks and bonds field, taking a job as an investment banker with the California Company.[xvi]  

In 1927, with his friend investment banker Henry Hudson Wagenseller (also formerly of the California Company) Griffith formed an investment firm, Griffith, Wagenseller & Co. (later Griffith, Wagenseller & Durst), an organization which would deal in municipal and corporation bonds, opening an office on the second floor of the Mortgage Guarantee Building. The company was closely identified with the Mortgage Guarantee Company of New York, and was busy underwriting and wholesaling high-grade local bond issues, as well as the retail distribution of securities selected from every important investment market.

Around this time, Griffith began dating Helene Hostetter, “one of the most popular girls in Southern California,” who had been spending winters with her mother at the Hotel Huntington in Pasadena since the death of her father in 1924. Though she had been previously engaged to Arthur Fowler Standiford, Jr. of Ridgewood, New Jersey, that engagement didn’t stick, and in March, 1928, Mrs. D. Herbert Hostetter announced the engagement of her daughter Helene to John S. Griffith.[xvii]  

They were married on July 25, 1928, at a beautiful ceremony in Pasadena. It was announced that after a honeymoon (“destination untold”) they would make their home at 803 Columbia Avenue in South Pasadena, in an elegant and stately mansion designed by the firm of Witmer & Watson – the architects responsible later for Wyvernwood. John and Helene had two children - John, Jr. and Miriam Leslie, known as “Mimi”. The family enjoyed summers at their vacation home on Balboa Island in Newport, at 1903 East Bay Front. Later, they moved from Columbia Avenue to a home in Pasadena at 1435 Orlando Road. The home was designed by Baldwin Hills Village architect Reginald D. Johnson[xviii]

Mr. and Mrs. John S. Griffith's first home,
at 803 Columbia in South Pasadena, designed
by architects David J. Witmer and Loyall
F. Watson

Mr. and Mrs. Griffith's second home, at 1435 Orlando Road,
Pasadena, designed by Reginald D. Johnson

Even during the very lean years of the Great Depression, the firm of Griffith, Wagenseller & Durst remained in business, and by all appearances was successful, with Griffith reporting in 1934 that demand for California municipal securities was improving, and a strong real estate boom was expected in the following three years.[xix]

It was around this time, however, that John S. Griffith began paying attention to new developments in real estate funding made possible with the formation of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).  His extraordinary business savvy and foresight allowed him to see how these financial breakthroughs might provide development opportunities at the still largely undeveloped Hostetter Tract.  Building had come to a nearly complete standstill by 1934, with Time Magazine reporting in 1935 that in the previous year, shockingly, “more U.S. houses burned down than were put up.”[xx]

Reading the headlines of the early to mid 1930's feels remarkably familiar, the problems then mirroring the problems of today. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected at the height of the Great Depression, immediately began developing programs meant to alleviate the nation’s financial crisis, focusing first on slowing down mortgage foreclosures. Roosevelt's first step was to establish a new federal agency, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC), which would protect mortgage holders with new standardized structures for payment methods, low-interest refinancing opportunities, and new longer term mortgages. The HOLC was signed into law in June of 1933.

Next, as part of the National Housing Act of 1934, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) was formed, which mandated that the Federal Government would insure mortgages issued by banks and other financial institutions. Besides making the long-term self-amortizing mortgage loan standard, by the Federal Government insuring mortgages lenders were more willing to extend larger amounts of credit, resulting in the lowering of the down payment required. This opened up the prospect of homeownership to a new class of prospective buyers, including the large working middle-class.

These changes spurred the resurrection of the nation’s construction industry, and paved the way for more innovative ideas in modern housing.

The middle-class, however, wasn’t the only group of Americans which would benefit from new FHA funding concepts.  Like most of the United States, housing conditions in Los Angeles ran a wide gamut of conditions, and was reflective of the economic and social inequality of the city’s population.  In Los Angeles, slum conditions were not nearly as severe as they were on the East Coast.  But slum conditions did exist, and in 1937, according to writer and architectural critic Esther McCoy 30 percent of all dwellings in Los Angeles had no inside toilet, 50 percent had no bathtub, and 20 percent were unfit for human habitation.[xxi] 

People living in these sub-standard conditions were the next group the government targeted for help. The Housing Act of 1937, (the Wagner-Steagall Act), created the United States Housing Authority (USHA), which encouraged local authorities to develop local Public Housing projects. As a result, in 1938 Housing Authorities for both the city and county of Los Angeles were established. The Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles contracted with USHA to develop two housing projects discussed previously here in the Clarence Stein post – the Harbor Hills project, 300 low-rent units near San Pedro, and the Carmelitos project, a 607 unit low-rent project near Long Beach.

Creating better public housing would create two beneficial results – the first, and most obvious result, was the creation of better housing for low-income families, which would improve the lives of those families, thereby improving the overall well-being of the country.  This would free up money for food, clothing and offer an overall higher standard of living.  Secondly, building these projects would create thousands of jobs, which in itself would improve the lives of those negatively impacted by the Great Depression.

Architect David J. Witmer had been appointed the Supervisor of Architecture for the Southern California district of the FHA, and in that position would have become uniquely adept at understanding the minutiae of FHA requirements and funding, efficient construction methods, and burgeoning development opportunities. At the time, it was noted that Witmer “had become unusually familiar with the modern essentials of good housing as a whole and at the same time he became particularly versed in the requirements of the FHA. He has helped write many FHA regulations. Together with Mr. Watson’s long experience and ability in designing multiple dwelling buildings, there was a wealth of background especially suited for the planning of a community such as Wyvernwood.”[xxii] 

John S. Griffith, while still occupied part-time with his bonds firm, had been studying these developments in FHA funding with increasing interest. From 1934 to 1938, Griffith spent the “major portion of the past five years studying large rental home developments both in this country and abroad." Benefiting by the experience of others, and in collaboration with David J. Witmer, he would bring “into existence a community unparalleled in the history of housing.”

In January, 1938, Griffith finally resigned from the company he had founded – Griffith, Wagenseller & Durst – in order to devote his attention full-time to managing the Hostetter Estate. Soon thereafter, David J. Witmer also resigned; he from the FHA, and together they began collaborating on their cutting-edge plan for Wyvernwood, exploring how the breakthroughs in funding and housing could be adapted for a privately funded (though insured by the FHA), superior housing development, which would be aimed squarely at the middle class.[xxiii] 

The Great Hostetter Industrial Tract, October 2, 1933. At the height of the Great Depression, the majority of the Hostetter Tract was still largely undeveloped. The Sears-Roebuck Company building is seen at lower center, at Olympic Boulevard. The building circled in both pictures is the Los Angeles headquarters of the Mueller Company

An aerial photograph taken looking at the same spot, September 28, 1949. This photograph shows how  successfully John S. Griffith was able to fully develop the Hostetter Tract. Note that the bluffs of the Los Angeles River have been lined in concrete. Note also the Wyvernwood community at the upper left side of the photo, with Estrada Courts immediately adjacent. The relatively few streets of Wyvernwood meander through the Superblock, in contrast to the traditional rectangular street grid in the surrounding areas. This was meant to discourage through traffic within the site.


[i] Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service (
[ii] “The Hostetter Estate,” Pittsburgh Dispatch, December 6, 1889, p. 8
[iii] “Papa Hostetter’s Bitter Disillusionment,” The Register, Sandusky, Ohio, Feb 1, 1920. Son D. Herbert, Jr. later divorced his wife. Miriam’s life took a more disturbing turn. She divorced her first husband, and later married Charles Fuller Young, a New York stockbroker. She failed to show up to perform her matron of honor duties at her sister Helene’s wedding to John S. Griffith, the Los Angeles Times reporting that she “was unavoidably detained in the East.” Read between the lines, especially after what transpired in later years. Travelling in 1933 to Reno, seeking her second divorce, Miriam was accompanied by Eugene A. Bowen, “a former New York restaurant owner” and “self styled guardian” to the New York heiress. On June 7, 1933, it was reported in the national press that “because she had spurned his attentions,” Bowen had allegedly beaten her “black and blue on two different occasions.” Bowen, however, had a different story, telling the court that he had only accompanied Mrs. Young to Reno to keep her “from drinking herself to death.” Mrs. Young contradicted this, saying that the “40-year old New York playboy” struck her because she planned a dinner engagement with an automobile salesman, and the second time he beat her after they had completed a six-hour speakeasy tour.” She testified that “only three or four drinks passed her lips on the latter occasion. Mrs. Young’s impeccable conduct on this and other speakeasy visits was challenged by the accused man,” who described her as falling down many times, one of which caused her black eye. The Judge, Francis J. Cunningham, convicted Bowen, and it was noted that Reno “does not approve of New York gigolos coming to Reno to beat up on other men’s wives.” Around 1937 she married William Z. Breed, who she met through her interests with show dogs, but he died around 1939. This was followed by a man named Galligan. She died in 1968.
[iv] “Personal News,” Los Angeles Times, Sep 30, 1887, p. 8
[v] “Talks with Citizens,” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1888, p. 3.
[vi] “Subdivisions and Subdividers,” Los Angeles Times, May 4, 1924, p. D2
[vii] “Renters Get Money’s Worth,” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1939, p. 11
[viii] “Family Gets Vast Hostetter Estate,” Los Angeles Times, Nov 14, 1925, p. A7
[ix]HOSTETTER FUNERAL IS TOMORROW: Bitters Manufacturer's Rites Will Be Conducted in Pasadena”. Los Angeles Times 1924, September 29).
[x] “Many Buying in Factory Tract,” Los Angeles Times, Jan 23, 1927, p. E11
[xi] “Hostetter Subdivision is Opened,” Los Angeles Times, Jan 16, 1927, p. E5
[xii] “Sears, Roebuck Work Rushed,” Los Angeles Times, Feb 20, 1927, p. E9
[xiii] “Industrial Tract May Set Record,” Los Angeles Times, Apr 24, 1927, p. E9
[xiv] “Useful Life Ends in Rest,” Los Angeles Times, Oct 17, 1906, p. I17
[xv] “Useful Life Ends in Rest,” Los Angeles Times, Oct 17, 1906, p. I17
[xvi] Los Angeles City Directory, 1923
[xvii] “Engagements,” The Index, January 2, 1926, p. 3
[xviii] “Of Interest to Women,” Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1928; Architect and Engineer, Vol 89-91, 1927, p. xix
[xix] “State Municipal Demand Grows,” Los Angeles Times, Dec 23, 1934, p. 12
[xx] “Rising Residences,” Time, Nov 25, 1935
[xxi] “Making a Better World,” Don Parson, p. 18
[xxii] “Development Hailed Housing Achievement,” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1939, p. 11
[xxiii] “Donald O’Melveny Returning to Investment Banking Field,” Los Angeles Times, Sep 1, 1938, p. A16


  1. Hi, this was completely enjoyable to read. Thank you! As an aside, I wonder if you know that the wayward daughter, Miriam Breed, has lasting fame in the world of show dogs. She is considered the "mother of the Boxer dog in America" as she imported the first really important Boxer, Ch. Sigurd vom dom of Barmere. I was searching today, for further information on this particular branch of the family as I suspect they lost property in Cuba during Castro's revolution. If you know of such things, I surely would appreciate some information. Thanks so much.

  2. This is very impressive--I'm putting together a post for the Boyle Heights Historical Society blog on the Hostetter Tract, of which a map is in the Homestead Museum collection. Your very thorough and detailed posts are quite remarkable. Many thanks.