3087 Wilshire Boulevard

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When clothing merchant Isaac L. Lowman hired Pasadena architect Frederick L. Roehrig—sometimes referred to as "the millionaire's architect"—to design 3087 Wilshire Boulevard, he no doubt had high hopes for a continued happy and comfortable life for his family. The Superintendent of Buildings issued a permit on May 22, 1905, to begin the construction of 3087 on a north-side, midblock lot between Westmoreland (then Miami) Avenue and Shatto Place; the Lowmans were moving from a house they had built in 1899—possibly also designed by Roehrig—at 1314 Orange Street, a house, incidentally, that still stands. (In 1924, Orange Street was renamed as—and in 1934 connected directly to—Wilshire Boulevard.) As it turned out, the first few years in the new house were not happy ones. It seems that almost as soon as the Lowmans moved in, Mrs. Lowman—Amy—took to the bed with an unspecified malady. Isaac tended to business at Lowman & Company, haberdashers, downtown on Spring Street, while his wife stayed home with their teenage daughter Sheda and presumably servants enough to take the burden off the latter while Isaac was working or out with friends in the evening. On July 2, 1909, while walking diagonally southeast across the intersection of Alvarado and Seventh with a doctor friend after dinner, he was run down and killed by a Lozier swerving to avoid another car. The shock caused the infirm Amy to expire at 3087 on August 6. Sheda, a student at Stanford, was now an orphan.


Juxtaposed with the logotype of his store, Isaac Lowman was
mourned in the Los Angeles Times on July 3, 1909.


The heiress, if we may call her that—Isaac appears to have been something less than a millionaire, leaving only the business and the Wilshire house, together worth $50,000—returned to Palo Alto and made plans to sell 3087 forthwith. A busy mining engineer, inventor, orchardist, and developer of Yuma, Arizona, Hiram Wheeler Blaisdell would be the buyer. Blaisdell moved in with his wife Alice, daughter Matilda, his 90-year-old father William, and no less than five servants. Long about 1916, things went awry in Yuma, where a waterworks venture of his went bankrupt. The indefatigable Hiram was probably not much phased. He stayed at 3087 until 1921, by which time his father had died and Matilda had brought her husband William Ladd to live at home.

Soon after the departure of the Blaisdells, Dr. Sidney Rogers Burnap moved into 3087. Coming from New York, Burnap would go on to become a surgeon to Hollywood, performing among other operations the removal of Jean Harlow's appendix in 1933; in the meantime, he lived on Wilshire Boulevard with his wife Katherine, her father Frank H. Goldthwaite, and the couple's two children. Dr. Burnap, if not Katherine and her father and the children, would remain at 3087 until 1939. Having moved to the boulevard just as its commercialization was beginning, he watched as Bullock's-Wilshire rose directly across the street in 1929. While the department store's enormous bulk may not have bothered Sidney, often away during the day tending the innards of the stars, it may have been a minor contributing factor to the divorce of the Burnaps in 1931. Katherine moved to 507 Shatto Place as "Mrs. K. Goldthwaite Burnap" and pursued her calling as an interior decorator. Sidney moved on with celerity, in February 1932 marrying divorcée Margaret D. Weldon, who moved into 3087. Surprising, amid the ever increasing din of a widened and rebuilding Wilshire Boulevard, the couple stayed until 1939, that year moving to Windsor Square.

With attention and resources diverted elsewhere during the war years, those few houses of Wilshire Boulevard that hadn't been swept away by redevelopment were given a breather as they awaited their fates. After V-J Day, Los Angeles's real estate frenzy resumed; surprisingly, even as dated as 3087 must have seemed by then, and perhaps structurally compromised by its commercial uses since 1940, Rudolph James Paylas saw potential for it to once again becoming a single-family home. While many boulevard houses were relocated to other neighborhoods, even to far-flung ones, those east of Vermont that were moved generally stayed closer to their original sites (2619 being a notable exception). As had been 3143 Wilshire just to its west, 3087 and its garage moved only a few blocks north. After the Department of Building and Safety issued a permit for the project on August 15, 1946, the Roehrig-designed house was trundled to 401 Shatto Place, at the southwest corner of Fourth Street. The rescue of a distinguished domestic relic of Wilshire Boulevard would not be for all time, however; by 1960, its new neighborhood would prove to be too close-in to downtown to remain unredeveloped into an apartment district. The city issued a permit for the demolition of the former 3087 Wilshire Boulevard on May 5 of that year.


In this postcard rendering looking east from the intersection of the southerly
extension of Westmoreland Avenue, the Lowman-Blaisdell-Burnap house
is at left followed by Gilbert S. Wright's 3077 Wilshire Boulevard.




Illustrations: UCSDLLAT; Private Collection