Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Frederick L. Roehrig, The Millionaire's Architect

Frederick Louis Roehrig, photographer and date unknown.

Frederick Louis Roehrig was born in 1857 in LeRoy, New York, the son of the noted linguist, orientalist and philologist, Cornell Professor Frederick L. O. RoehrigThe younger Roehrig, an 1883 graduate of the Cornell University school of architecture, spent the next few years travelling and studying architecture in England and France. He married Mary Gavina Hungerford in 1885 and moved to Los Angeles with his new bride and father in October 1886. (Personal News, Los Angeles Times, October 10, 1886, p. 6). The trio took advantage of the rate wars between the Southern Pacific and the recently completed Santa Fe Railroad during the peak of the real estate speculation bubble taking place in Los Angeles. The city grew from a population of just 12,000 in 1884 to 100,000 only thirty months later. (Los Angeles by Morrow Mayo, Knopf, 1933, p. 78). The senior Roehrig (see below) immediately began teaching at the fledgling University of Southern California and beginning in 1895 at Stanford. 

 The multi-talented Frederick Louis Otto Roehrig ca. 1865. Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army. Dr. Roehrig is identified by a caption below the image that states: "DR. F. L. OTTO ROEHRIG/ Special Eye and Ear-Surgeon, in the service if the United States Army."  This specialist designation has not been seen given to any other Civil War surgeon.  Roehrig is shown full pose in uniform with a tinted-green sash worn across the chest indicating that he is the ‘officer of the day.’ A Model 1840 Medical Staff sword is attached to his belt and his kepi is on a side table. 

The younger Roehrig opened his first office in Pasadena in 1886 and later had offices in Los Angeles and Pasadena. The completion of the Santa Fe Railroad opened up the entire region to land speculation and development by a flood of East Coast and Midwestern industrialists who quickly visited the area on their winter vacations in their private Pullman cars. Liking what they saw, they purchased vast tracts of land, built their private mansions and embarked on various development schemes. Roehrig was clearly in the right place at the right time with the right connections to the vast amounts of development wealth that was pouring into Southern California. The health-seeking and retiring industrialists needed fitting showplaces to hold court, entertain and conduct business and Roehrig was clearly up to the task.

Roehrig was a versatile architectural stylist attentive to and accommodative of his wealthy client's whims, frequently using the Victorian, Queen Anne, American Craftsman, California Mission and Neo-Classical styles in his predominantly residential projects. His later institutional work gravitated towards Art Deco and Moderne.

One of  Roehrig's earliest commission was also arguably his most fortuitous since it resulted in a series of projects from what turned out to be his most important clients, Andrew McNally (see above) and crony Colonel George G. Green. (See later below). The Andrew McNally House in Altadena, California (see below) was the home of the co-founder and president of the Rand-McNally publishing company. The house is listed in the  National Register of Historic Places.

Postcard of the McNally House, SE corner of Mariposa and Santa Rosa, Altadena, 1888, Frederick L. Roehrig, Architect.

McNally was an Irish immigrant who worked as a printer. When he came to the United States, he first worked for the Chicago Tribune where he met William Rand. Together they formed the company that bears their names. In 1880, McNally took his fortune and family and moved west. They lived for a time in Pasadena, California before commissioning Roehrig to design their mansion on East Mariposa Street at Santa Rosa Avenue on Altadena's Millionaire's Row in 1887. Other prominent Mariposa homeowners included Green, John Woodbury, Frederick William Kellogg and William A. Scripps. McNally was a booster of the genteel lifestyle in Altadena, and he convinced many friends from Chiacgo to move nearby as well. Facing south, away from the street, the house offered vistas of the Los Angeles Basin, the Pacific Ocean, and Santa Catalina Island. The house has a three-story rotunda that allows a view to the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.

Page from "The Country Gentleman in California," 1896, Rand-McNally from Wallace Neff and the Grand Houses of the Golden State by Diane Kanner, p. 26.

The above caption reads,
"From Roses to Snow: These two Photographs were taken on March 1, 1894, within two hours. The above picture at Altadena, The Andrew McNally Residence; the upper in the Sierra Madre Mountains reached by the [Mt.] Lowe Electric Railroad."

McNally Residence, Altadena smoking room addition, ca. 1897, also designed by Frederick L. Roehrig. From Kanner, p. 39.

In 1893, McNally purchased almost 2,300 acres of rangeland for close to $100,000 which was part of Rancho Los Coyotes. He named the area La Mirada, which in Spanish means "The Look." He set aside 1,500 acres to be used for gentlemen's estates, hoping to attract friends from Chicago. 

Andrew McNally's Windemere Ranch, La Mirada, 1895, Frederick L. Roehrig. From Kanner, p. 37.

On the remaining acreage, which he named Windermere Ranch, he commissioned Roehrig again to design a home, a barn, and a caretaker's home (see below) and planted 51,000 olive trees and 17,000 lemon and pomelo trees. (See above) 

Neff Residence, Windemere Ranch, La Mirada, 1894, Frederick L. Roehrig. From Kanner, p. 31.

The home seen above right was built in 1894 as headquarters for the ranch which was run by McNally's daughter Nannie's husband, Edwin Neff whom she married in 1893. This house is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. They soon conceived future architect to Pasadena's moneyed elite and Hollywood celebrities, Wallace Neff, who was born in the ranch house in 1895. (See Neff below left).

Three of the children of Nannie and Ed Neff: from left, Wallace, Della, and Andrew at the Neff Residence, Windemere Ranch, La Mirada. From Kanner, p. 34.

McNally also commissioned Roehrig in 1894 to design a Santa Fe railroad station at Windemere (see below) enabling him to board his personal Pullman on the spur of the Altadena Railway that ran through his property, connect to the Santa Fe and travel directly to La Mirada. McNally jointly financed the station with the railroad after deciding the one they planned was unremarkable.

La Mirada Santa Fe Railroad Depot partially financed by McNally to service Windemere Ranch, Frederick L. Roehrig, 1894. From Kanner, p. 31. 

The 1893 real estate ad below uses as a selling point the fact that the outlined property is adjacent to the recently purchased 2,000-acre tract of Andrew McNally and his planned improvements. The above station was built on the upper line in the ad between the Norwalk and Fullerton stations.

Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1893.

As the citrus and olive trees matured McNally built an olive mill and a fruit processing plant (see below) also designed by Roehrig, from where he shipped what he considered the finest olive oil and citrus fruit throughout the United States. (See citrus box label below).

Roehrig-designed packing plant on the left and olive mill on the right connected with arch that advertised McNally's Olive Oil. From Kanner, p. 35.

Windemere Ranch crate label featuring buildings designed by Roehrig ca. 1896. Note that labe indicates that McNally planted 51,000 olive trees and 17,000 lemon and pomelo trees. From Kanner, p. 33.

As the region was gradually beginning to recover from the burst real estate bubble of the late 1880s, McNally and Neff in 1896 formed the La Mirada Land Company, which published a marketing booklet entitled "The Country Gentleman in California" (see marketing brochure below) advertising 20-acre parcels of land for sale adjacent to the ranch including pictures, a map and descriptions of the scenic olive and citrus groves. 

The Country Gentleman in California, Rand-McNally, 1896. From Wallace Neff and the Grand Houses of the Golden State by Diane Kanner, p. 26.

In 1904, McNally caught pneumonia while dining at the California Club and died two days later. The Neff's moved back to Altadena the same year while hiring a full-time manager to run the ranch operations. Quickly reintegrating to Pasadena society, Edwin was named President of the Tournament of Roses in 1906. When the ranch was finally sold for subdivision in 1953, it's $5.2 million price tag resulted in in one of the largest real estate transactions in California to date. In less than seven years, the 100-home community grew to 10,000 homes in the post-WW II housing boom.

Sphinx gates at the McNally Windemere Ranch, La Mirada, Frederick L. Roehrig. From Kanner, p. 37.

Windemere Ranch citrus crate label from e-Bay.

The 2,100-acre Windemere property was purchased by Louis M. Halper of the Halper Construction Company, an affiliation of Mark Taper's Home Savings & Loan. Home Savings was a major lender fueling the post-war housing boom throughout Southern California. As was common practice between lenders and builders during this boom period, lenders many times packaged land deals themselves to improve their profits. Halper constructed the infrastructure and resold acreage for an $8 million, 540 home Parkwood La Mirada tract and 1,250 home La Mirada Woods tract to Devon Construction Company. (See article below). 

Los Angeles Times, August 22, 1954, p. V-2. From ProQuest.

The above Los Angeles Times article describes the planned 10,000 home development of Windemere and quotes Andrew McNally as presciently proclaiming when he bought the ranch in 1893, "On this site some day a city shall rise!" Devon Construction Company hired architects Palmer & Krisel and David Freedman to design the first 540 homes using nine floor plans and 41 different exterior elevations. The article also features a rendering of one of the Palmer & Krisel designs. (For more on Krisel's indirect involvement with Wallace Neff see my "Krisel and Alexander in Hollywood").

Parkwood La Mirada ad feauring homes designed by Palmer & Krisel for Devon Construction on Andrew McNally's old Windemere Ranch. Los Angeles Times, October 24, 1954, p. V-9.

The Devon Construction Company ad above features a photo of one of the subdivision's model homes designed by Palmer & Krisel and announces that each home will include a mature olive tree. In a March 3, 2011 interview Krisel, also a Garrett Eckbo-trained landscape architect, informed informed me that he had to convince Devon that saving Windemere Ranch's original olive trees for inclusion in the tract's landscape design was a good selling point for the homes. (Note also the olive trees prominently featured in the yards of the completed homes below).

Midland La Mirada subdivision designed by Palmer & Krisel, 1954 with olive trees from Andrew McNally's Windemere Ranch featured on every lot. Photo by Douglas M. Simmonds, Job No. 356-21, Courtesy William Krisel Archive, Getty Research Institute.

Altadena's late 1880s Mariposa Street residents McNally, Woodbury, Scripps and Kellogg may be better known, but Colonel George. G. Green was possibly richer than all of them. Green was a larger than life character who served in the Civil War enlisting in Company B of the 142nd Illinois Infantry at the age of 20. He called himself a Colonel but letters written home during the war leave much doubt about his achievement of such a lofty rank. He accumulated his vast wealth by building upon the patent medicine enterprise started by his father in the 1840s, and investing the profits in real estate including large holdings in Altadena and Pasadena.

George Gill Green, ca. 1878.

By 1880, most patent medicine companies published newsy almanacs to advertise their products. (See example below). Huge promotional campaigns were launched advertising the products. Green's nine printing presses printed annual Green's Almanacs in four languages. In 1883 alone, 5,000,000 almanacs were printed and distributed. (From So popular were these medicines that by 1900 one almanac was printed for every two Americans. Most patent medicines were 50% morphine and/or alcohol by volume. Some historians estimate than one in five Americans were addicts at the turn of the last century, the majority being women who took the medicines for their "calming effect." Green's almanacs, like most, featured detailed color graphics on the cover meant to impress with pictures of industry or manufacturing plants. Some featured idealized rural scenes, others rosy cheeked children. ("Life on Mariposa Street circa 1900: Millionaires Road Indeed," The Echo, Altadena Historical Society Newsletter, Spring, 2010, p. 2).

Green's Almanac, 1885-1886 featuring a rendering of his residence and patent medicine factory in Woodbury, New Jersey. Image courtesy Rulon-Miller Books.

To accommodate his annual winter visits to California beginning in 1886, Green purchased his own private Pullman car and before leaving Woodbury, New Jersey with his family each year, he would allow citizens to tour the car as it stood on the tracks near the station. Close to the same time as his McNally Residence commission, Green also hired Roehrig to design his new 23-room winter estate directly across Santa Rosa Street from the McNallys. (See below).

Colonel G. G, Green Residence, with carriage house in the foreground, Altadena, 1887, Frederick L. Roehrig. Image from

Soon thereafter, Green and McNally would organize excursions around the Southland exploring various real estate schemes beginning from the the Altadena Railway spurs onto their property. The railway was also founded in 1887 with James Swartout and neighbor and one of the founding fathers of Altadena, John Woodbury. The railway connected to Thaddeus S. C. Lowe's Mt. Lowe Railway in 1903 at Mountain Junction at Lake Street. (See two below).

Altadena-Pasadena Railway at the Raymond Hotel Station, 1887.

Mountain Junction with Mt. Lowe Railway at Lake St. in Altadena. Photo by Pierce from "The Right Hand of the Continent," by Charle F. Lummis, Out West, June 1903, p. 712. (From my collection).

During the very busy 1887, land speculator and developer E. C. Webster, a crony of Green and McNally and vice president of Altadena founder John Woodbury's Pasadena Improvement Companybegan construction of a hotel on the east side of Raymond Avenue south of Kansas (now Green) Street with some of the funding later provided by Green. He also financed a new depot for the Santa Fe Railroad south of the hotel. (See below). When Webster was unable to complete the job due to financial difficulties, Green, took over the construction and opened the hotel on New Years Eve, 1889 as the Hotel Webster with Webster as manager. ("The Webster Ready to be Opened in a Month," Los Angeles Times, October 24, 1889, p. 7).

1890 Sanborn Map detailing the Hotel Webster and Santa Fe Depot. From Los Angeles Public Library Sanborn Maps Database.

By 1890 Green had sold his Altadena estate and his family wintered at the hotel for a period until his 3,500 sq. ft. Craftsman-style home designed by Roehrig was completed at 569 S. Marengo Ave. the next year. (See below). Green likely moved  to be closer to his hotel operations. In early 1891 he replaced Webster as manager of the Hotel Webster with a Colonel Bowler, spruced up the hotel with new furniture and renamed the building Hotel Green. ("Under a New Name," Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1891, p. 7).  

George G. Green Residence, 659 S. Marengo Ave., Pasadena, 1901. Photo from CHRID. 

View of a Central Park sports event across Raymond from the original 1889 Hotel Webster by architects Strange and Carnicle, (center), 1895 Hotel Green addition by Charles L. Strange (left) and Santa Fe Railroad Depot (right). Photo ca. 1896 courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Green couldn't wait to expand and in 1893 commissioned one of the former Hotel Webster architects, Charles L. Strange to design an addition to the north extending the building all the way to the southeast corner of Green and Raymond. ("Work is Begun on the New Hotel Building," Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1893, p. 7). Roehrig's 1887 Doty Block client Matthew Slavin was the only Pasadena bidder and lost out to another 1887 Roehrig client and Green crony, Andrew McNally. When finished in early 1895 the original hotel and current addition would represent a total expenditure or $450,000. ("Mr. McNally Awarded the Contract for the Hotel Green Annex," Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1893, p. 7).

Santa Fe Depot and Hotel Green, ca. 1902. Image from

In 1897, Green commissioned Roehrig to design an even more impressive addition coined The Annex (later Castle Green) on the opposite side of Raymond which was completed the following year. (See below). ("New Hotel Aglow," Los Angeles Times, December 17, 1898, p. 15). Roehrig drew on Moorish, Spanish, Victorian, and other stylistic elements to produce what was then Pasadena’s most stunningly original building. He blended domes, arches, pillars, balconies, and verandas in a building of structural steel with brick walls and concrete floors, also making it Pasadena’s first fireproof building. Roehrig tied the original building, designed by architects Strange and Carnicle on the east side of the street, to his piece de resistance by an ornate enclosed bridge crossing Raymond Avenue. When The Annex opened for business, its two cylindrical towers on the south and much of the roof line were illuminated with exterior lights.

Castle Green and bridge, 1899. Photo courtesy USC Digital Library.

The original structures and The Annex became the winter home for some of the most prominent magnates of industry in the Eastern United States. Besides the bridge the two buildings were connected by a tunnel under Raymond. Guests arriving by train would pass through The Annex, to the second floor, and be trammed across the bridge. In the main residence they would simply retire to their suites. The luggage would follow via the tunnel. Many of the servants and attendants of the guests were forced to find quartering in the adjacent buildings.

1902 Roehrig rendering of the Hotel Green with Roehrig's Center and West additions in 1898 and 1903. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. 8. From my collection.

Wooster Block, southeast corner of Green and Fair Oaks before renovation and incorporation into the Hotel Green by Roehrig. From The Californian, Volume 2 by Charles Frederick Holder, p. 567. 

In 1902 Green had Roehrig design a new Western Annex extending from the twin-towered Central Annex built along Green Street and connecting to the P. G. Wooster Block (see above), first home of Throop University, (forerunner to CalTech). Roehrig's design included connecting to and adding two stories to and and completely renovating the Wooster Block to conform to the rest of the complex. A December 15th article in the L.A. Times stated that, "Architect Roehrig is working nights and Sundays on the plans, which are to be considerably altered from their first appearance." ("Pasadena Assured of Greater Green: Architect Working on the Hotel Plans," Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1902, p. 13). The completed addition was trimmed back somewhat from the above color rendering as Green chose to eliminate the southwest wing. (See as-built photo below). 

Roehrig completed the plans in early February, 1903 and a $175,000 general contract for the brickwork, carpentry, plastering and interior finishing was awarded to Roehrig's first major client and now City Councilman, Matthew Slavin, for whom he designed the Doty Block mentioned at the beginning of this article. Slavin had previously been awarded the foundation contract. ("Main Contracts Let for Green Addition: New Building in Pasadena to be Ready by Fall," Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1903, p. 13). Possibly because of this contract from Roehrig, Slavin reciprocated by selecting him to design his Slavin Building the following year. (See later below). Groundbreaking occurred in mid-February at which time 100 tons of steel were purchased for the $500 million, 176-room, Gothic-style addition. ("Steel is Purchased for Pasadena Hotel; The Great Green Annex is to Be Built Now," Los Angeles Times, February 12, 1903, p. 21). 

Hotel Green ca. 1904 with Roehrig's 1903 western addition to his 1898 Annex and bridge. Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Entry for the 14th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade lining up outside the Hotel Green, January 1, 1903. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. 63. From my collection. 

When the west wing was completed in January 1904 the entire complex was operated as the Hotel Green. Green's hotel became the social center of Pasadena, playing host to vacationing tycoons and even President Harrison in 1891. ("Hail to the Chief: Preparations Under Way for the President's Visit," Los Angeles Times, April 15, 1891, p. 7). It was also home to both the Tournament of Roses annual Rose Ball, Parade (see above) and other Tournament-related gala events and the Valley Hunt Club which organized many riding events from the adjoining Central Park. (See below).The hotel also quickly became the watering hole of choice for Green and his fellow Pasadena cronies and socialites.

Valley Hunt Club ca. 1890. From Pasadena Tournament of Roses

Tally-ho coach leaving Hotel Green for the Mountains ca. 1899. From USC Digital Library.

The Hotel Green was a regular stop on Thaddeus S. C. Lowe's Mt. Lowe Railway Tally-Ho Line which  began service from Los Angeles on January 7, 1895. (See above). The below ad describes the trip as passing by the beautiful homes in Altadena including those of Andrew McNally and Col. G. G. Green, Colorado and Orange Grove Avenues and many other sights. 

 Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1895, p. 7. From ProQuest.

During 1897 Green and McNally were part of a successful consortium that founded the Pasadena and Los Angeles Electric Railway, beating outa competing group headed by Green's erstwhile hotel manager E. C. Webster for the lucrative franchise from the City of Pasadena. ("A Successful Year: Reorganization of the Pasadena Electric Railroad," Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1898, p. 14). McNally also became involved in the reorganization of Lowe's Mt. Lowe Railway. ("In New Hands: Pasadena and Mt. Lowe Railway Company Incorporated," Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1897, p. 8 ). The following year McNally's group sold their interests in the railway to Collis P Huntington's Southern Pacific Company. ("Octopus Reaches Out: The Huntington Syndicate Absorbs the Pasadena Electric Line," Los Angeles Times, December 30, 1898, p. 4).

Aerial view of Hotel Green with the 1910 semi-circular Palm Room improvements visible center left. From the USC Digital Library.

Roehrig's final involvement with the hotel came in 1910 when, with business booming, Green again decided to make some additions and improvements. ("Green to Add to Big Hotel," Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1910, p. II-10). Roehrig designed an enlargement for the West Building dining room and enlarged and enclosed the south-facing patio between the West and Center Buildings to create a palm room. (See above). The work was finished in early December in plenty of time for the coming season. ("Hotel Green in Ship Shape: Large Crown City Hostelry Ready for Winter," Los Angeles Times, November 20, 1910, p. VI-8). 

From the day he moved to Los Angeles Roehrig was very active in the affairs of the Southern California Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He also participated in the creation of the original California law providing for the registration of Architects which was passed by the State Legislature in 1901. Roehrig was appointed to the first California State Board of Architecture and was soon listed as Secretary-Treasurer which is likely why he received License No. 2 behind President Octavius Morgan. (See below). ("Our State Architects," Architect & Engineer, May 1908, p. 78).

Numerical Roster of Architects, California State Board of Architectural Examiners, 1949, p. 61. From my collection.

Roehrig's reputation steadily grew as a highly respected, dedicated professional of unquestioned ethics and high standards. This resulted in a 1911 appointment by Pasadena Mayor William Thum, along with fellow architects Myron Hunt, Elmer Grey and Henry Greene, to create the city's first building code. (From Greene & Greene: Architecture as Fine Art by Randell Makinson, Peregrine Smith, 1977, p. 194).

Roehrig's Houses on Orange Grove Avenue: Pasadena's Millionaire's Row

W. C. Stuart Residence (later Harkness Residence), 1201 S., 1895. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. 21. From my collection.

Like Altadena's Mariposa Avenue, Orange Grove Avenue (later Boulevard) was where Pasadena's millionaires congregated. Roehrig designed at least ten mansions along the boulevard, some of which are shown here. The W. C. Stuart Residence at 1201 S. Orange Grove Ave. was designed in the California Mission Revival-style in 1895.

John Smith Cravens Residence, later the Busch Residence aka "Ivy Wall." Off to the right can be seen the tower of the Thaddeus S. C. Lowe Residence. Photo courtesy USC Digital Collection.

Pasadena pioneer, John Smith Cravens was Director of Security First National Bank in Los Angeles. He was also founder and Director of Southern California Edison. He was instrumental in founding the City of Torrance with his cronies in the Dominquez Land Company and deeply involved with the Los Angeles Extension Co., Chino Land and Water, and American Conduit. Cravens was a Trustee for both the California Institute of Technology and Barlow Sanitarium. Cravens owned much acreage on Orange Grove Avenue and commissioned Roehrig to design the above English Tudor mansion in 1898. Modernist architect R. M. Schindler visited Pasadena and Busch Gardens during his six-week trip through California and the southwest and took the below photograph around September 1915 after visiting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and Panama-California Exposition in San Diego

John Smith Cravens Residence, later the Busch Residence aka "Ivy Wall." Photograph by R. M. Schindler, September 1915. Courtesy UC-Santa Barbara Art & Architecture Design Collections, R. M. Schindler Collection.

Cravens sold the mansion and much acreage overlooking the Arroyo Seco to Adolphus Busch, the flamboyant industrialist co-founder of Anheuser-Busch Companies (seen above with daughter Wilhelmina) and built an even larger estate on the southwest corner of Orange Grove and Madeline. ("Fine Pasadena Residence Sold," Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1904, p. I-7). Busch bought the house while on vacation in 1904 and soon hired E. H. Lockwood to begin planning extensive gardens. Busch Gardens eventually became 60 acres of terraced landscape developed by Busch between 1905 and 1915, and became a major Pasadena tourist attraction. (See brochure below).

Busch Gardens visitor's brochure from Pasadena Living Magazine

The entire property was a large tract of land that bordered Bellefontaine St. on the northern end to Madeline Dr. on the southern end and from Orange Grove on the east to Arroyo Dr. on the west.

Busch Gardens. Image courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Busch quickly integrated himself into local affairs and development schemes and even contributed an entry for the 1913 Rose Parade. (See below). His float was a clear forerunner to the now iconic team of Clydesdales pulling the Anheuser-Busch delivery wagon.

Busch "float" in the 1913 Rose Parade. Image courtesy Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Mrs. Presley C. Baker Residence, later Burdette Residence aka "Sunnycrest," 891 S., 1898. Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Clara Bradley Baker (see above), widow of Colonel Presley C. Baker who died in 1893, commissioned Roehrig to design the above Prairie-style house at 891 S. Orange Grove Ave. Baker was born in East Bloomfield NY on July 22, 1855. She was educated in Syracuse public schools and Syracuse University from 1872-6. She was one of the founders of Alpha Phi Sorority and was very active in educational and literary life and in women's club organizations. She was a board member of Pasadena Hospital, also designed by Roehrig (see later below), to which she donated the funds for a maternity wing in 1904. She was also a trustee for Pasadena's Throop Polytechnic Institute, founded the Woman's Exchange in Los Angeles, was one of the organizers of the Chautauqua movement, was one of founders of the Southwest Museum of Los Angeles, and was a charter member of the Ebell Club of Los Angeles for whom she served as president from 1897-1900. 

The extremely well-connected and influential Baker married Robert Jones Burdette in 1899. Burdette, born July 30, 1844 in Greensboro, PA was educated in Peoria, IL public schools. He served in the 47th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War and was later a reporter and editor of various Illinois and Iowa newspapers. He became licensed to preach at Lower Merion Baptist Church in Bryn Mawr, PA in 1897. After marrying Baker he became a highly regarded Pasadena humorist, author, lecturer, preacher, and philanthropist. He became ordained in the Baptist ministry at Temple Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1903.

Thomas S. Wotkyns Residence (later A. Kingsley Macomber Residence), SW Corner of Orange Grove Ave. and Madeiine, 1898. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. . From my collection.

Edwin R. Chadbourne Residence, 745 S., 1898.  LAPL Photo Collection.

Mr. & Mrs. S. G.Reed Residence, Corner of Orange Grove Ave. and Colorado Blvd., 1902. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. 43. From my collection.

Mrs. Bella Scofield Residence, 289 S. Orange Grove Ave., 1909.

Roehrig's City of Los Angeles Historical Cultural Monuments

West Adams, Los Angeles's answer to Altadena's and Pasadena's Millionaire's Rows, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles and home of numerous Los Angeles Historical Cultural Monuments. Though much of its history is forgotten, it was once an area of grand homes and bustling development. The great land boom that turned Los Angeles from a Pueblo to a metropolis came during the period of 1885 through 1915. Contractors were opening up choice lots between Figueroa and West Boulevard, moving south from Pico Blvd to Jefferson. This was the district that came to be known as "West Adams." The new Adams Boulevard Corridor became the magnet for new wealth in the city. Architects such as Roehrig filled the area with classic examples of the elaborate styles of the times: Victorian, Queen Anne, Stick/Eastlake, Shingle, Mission, Transitional Arts and Crafts, Beaux Arts and the Revival Styles, and Craftsman. City leaders such as Lawrence Doheny, Isadore Dockweiller, William Andrew Clark, George Ira Cochran, Frederick Hastings Rindge (see below) and Ezra T. Stimson (later below) built homes here.

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Hastings Rindge. From Paradise by the Sea, Santa Monica Bay by Fred E. Basten, p. 24.   

In 1887, Boston capitalist Frederick Hastings Rindge moved to Los Angeles with wife Rhoda May Knight Rindge (see above), and in 1892 purchased the entire 13,330-acre Rancho Malibu for a then fabulous price of $10 per acre (up from ten cents per acre 35 years earlier). They later expanded the ranch to 17,000 acres, buying up the holdings of homesteaders with adjacent property. (See below).

Rindge Rancho Malibu. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Rindge Malibu Ranch House detroyed by fire in 1903. From Paradise by the Sea, Santa Monica Bay by Fred E. Basten, p. 25.

With the purchase of Rancho Malibu, Mr. Rindge realized his dream of the ideal country home: "A farm near the ocean, under the lee of the mountains, with a trout brook, wild trees, a lake, good soil, and excellent climate, one not too hot in summer." He built a large ranch house in Malibu Canyon beneath present-day Serra Retreat (see above) to serve as a headquarters for the ranch. It was a working cattle and grain-raising ranch which through the many years of the Rindge dynasty was to become one of the most valuable large real estate holdings in the United States. He also built his first "town house" on Santa Monica's prestigious Ocean Avenue. (See below).

 Rindge Residence, Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica Residence ca. 1895. From Paradise by the Sea, Santa Monica Bay by Fred E. Basten, p. 25. 

Frederick H. Rindge Residence, 2263 S. Harvard, Los Angeles, 1904, Historical Cultural Monument # 95.

Rindge needed a home closer to downtown Los Angeles from which to conduct his west coast business affairs and commissioned Roehrig in 1901 to design something suitable for his needs. Roehrig and Rindge, the well-connected Boston and Los Angeles capitalist, agreed on a concept for a baronial chateaux of the Louis XII period of the French Renaissance. Roehrig completed plans and took out a building permit for the Rindge "Town House" at 2263 S. Harvard Blvd. on May 19, 1902.  The 25-room, two-story mansion was constructed and furnished for a cost of $50,000 and completed in 1904. ("Rindge Will Build Baronial Residence," Los Angeles Times, May 20, 1902, p. I-2). In 1903 the Malibu Ranch home was destroyed by a disastrous brush fire. Following the fire, the family lived in their Santa Monica home and temporary tent houses in Malibu until the West Adams house was completed.

Frederick Hastings Rindge obituary, Los Angeles Herald, August 30, 1905, p. 3.

Unfortunately Rindge died shortly after the house was completed and his wife May K. Rindge took over the management of her husband's extensive business affairs including the Malibu Ranch. May Rindge, dubbed "Queen of the Malibu" by newspaper detractors, wanted most of all to be left alone to run her Rancho Malibu in peace. It was not to be as for the next 20 years she had to battle first the Southern Pacific and later the County of Los Angeles and State of California to prevent the inevitable coastal access that would destroy forever the serenity of her ranch land. For more on her epic battle to preserve her Malibu Ranch see the very interesting "The Gates of Paradise" by Ben Marcus in Malibu Magazine.

Ezra T. Stimson Residence, 839 W. Adams Blvd., 1901. Cover of West Adams bSuzanne Tarbell Cooper, Don Lynch, John G. Kurtz.

Ezra T. Stimson Residence, 839 W. Adams Blvd., 1901. Historical Cultural Monument # 456. Los Angeles Herald, November 5, 1905.

William Edmund Ramsay Residence aka Villa Maria, 2468 S. St. Andrews Place, Historical Cultural Monument # 230.

William Edmund Ramsay, born the son of Scottish immigrants in Quebec in 1855, made his fortune in the lumber business in Saginaw, Michigan, and Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 1906, Ramsay moved to Los Angeles with his family and bought up three parcels of land between Western Avenue and Adams Place (the latter renamed St Andrews Place in 1914) in West Adams Heights. Included in the mix were more than two and a half acres Ramsay purchased from Mira Hershey. Ramsay then hired architect Frederick L. Roehrig (1857 – 1948) to design this 9,000 square foot, forty-room mansion. Roehrig created for the Ramsays a three-story, Tudor Revival masterpiece made of stone and half timber, plaster finish, and topped with a slate roof. Completed in the summer of 1908, the estate wouldn’t remain Ramsay’s home for long, as he died of “heart trouble” in early February the next year. (From Big Orange Landmarks).

Dr. Leslie E. Keeley Residence (later the Homer Laughlin, Sr. Residence), 666 West Adams Blvd., Frederick L. Roehrig, architect, 1898.

Dr.Leslie Keeley, inventor and franchiser of the "Keeley Cure" for alcoholism and drug addiction commissioned Roehrig to design yet another West Adams mansion. This was a winter home for the Keeleys and was subsequently purchased in 1901 by Homer Laughlin, Sr., retired dinnerware industrialist from the midwest. Sometime in the spring of 1910 Irving Gill received his second Los Angeles commission to add a $5,000 garage to the house which was two blocks south of his son's house near the USC campus which Gill had designed in 1908. As a long time friend of fellow Ohioan President William McKinley, Laughlin, Sr. proudly led the reception committee at the same West Adams family home (see above and below) during the President's visit to Los Angeles in the spring of 1901, not long before his assassination in Buffalo later that year. ("Brilliant Reception for the President; Mr. and Mrs. Homer Laughlin the Hosts," LAT, May 10, 1901, p. I-6). (for much more on the Laughlins and Irving Gill see my "Irving Gill, Homer Laughlin, Jr. and the Beginnings of Modern Architecture in Los Angeles").

Department of Water and Power Distributing Station No. 2, 225 N. Avenue 61, Historical Cultural Monument # 558. Photo credit City of Los Angeles ZIMAS.

Constructed in 1916, the Greek Revival structure displays symmetrical pedimented doors and a projecting portico supported by Tuscan columns. This was Roehrig's only Highland Park commission.

Other Selected Buildings

Frederick L. Roehrig Residence, 501 S. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. 45. From my collection.

Client unknown, 659 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena, 1887. Image from CHRID.

Slavin Building, 1904 for Pasadena Councilman Matthew Slavin. Wallace Neff maintained an office in the building until 1926 when he moved into the Central Building to join Roehrig, G. Lawrence Stimson and Henry Greene. (From Kanner).

Orton School for Girls, 1898. Photo from the California Historical Inventory Database.

Pasadena Hospital, Fairmount Ave. and Congress St., 1901. From Pasadena Illustrated Souvenir Book, Board of Trade, Pasadena, 1903, p. 67. From my collection. 

Frank Warner Residence, 271 Markham Pl., 1901. Photo from the California Historical Inventory Database.

First Presbyterian Church, designed by Roehrig and constructed by Matthew Slavin, 1908. Image from

Unidentified Pasadena house designed by Roehtig ca. 1900. Hance photo from USC Digital Library

Client and location unknown. From Inland Architect & News Record (Chicago), December 1903.

Lincoln Clark Residence, 646 S. Madison Ave., 1910. Photo courteesy CHRID.

Alhambra Public Library. From USC Digial Library.

Department of Water and Power Building, NE Corner of Sunset Blvd. and Via de la Paz, Pacific Palisades, 1935. From You-Are-Here.

Frederick Louis Roehrig Resources

California Historical Resources Database

Frederick L.Roehrig Annotated Bibliography (In development, 200 articles to date)

Roehrig Project Database (In development, 150 projects to date)

From Who's Who:

Roehrig, Mary Gavina Hungerford Mrs Frederick Loiis Roehrlg 501 S. Oakland Av Pasadena Cat Born Ithaca NY Oct 29 1862 dau Newell and Sarah M Livermore Hungerford ed Cornell Univ and attended Wells Coll 1881 85 mem Psi of Kappa Kappa Gamma m Ithaca Oct 29 1885 Frederick Lewis Roehrig children Gavina H Harold L R Pauline F Austin R Stewart Congregationalism Mem

Roehrig, Frederick Louis, b Le Roy NY Dec 24 1857 s Prof F. L. O. Roehrig, grad Cornell Archit B higher branches of architecture in and France in 1865, m. 1885, Gavina Hungerford, Ithaca NY, Architect of many bldgs Residence 501 S Oakland, Pasadena Calif Office 408 Byrne Building, Los Angeles Calif

Frederick Louis Roehrig Architect 721 American Bank Bldg Los Angeles Cal Res 501 S. Oakland Ave Pasadena Cal