2932 Wilshire Boulevard


Located on the south side of the boulevard between Hoover and Commonwealth, 2932 Wilshire was one of five houses built in a row west from the Hoover corner by developer Septimus Tuston "Tus" Eldridge; all five in the row were designed by the partnership of M. Paul Martin and Neal D. Barker. Eldridge was issued a permit to begin construction of 2932 on August 9, 1906, although work on it did not begin until after the permit was renewed on May 27, 1908. The house was to be Eldridge's own home; while it was under construction, he lived two doors east down the row at 2902 Wilshire. At the time of his Wilshire project, Eldridge was elected to the first of two terms as a member of the county board of supervisors despite there being some concern over possible conflicts of interest in his refusal to give up his contracting business while in office. Indeed, soon after election, Eldridge was showing signs of corruption, charged with conspiracy regarding the sale of road bonds in 1908 and then investigated for showing favoritism by letting contracts to the Eureka Planing Mill Company, owned by relatives. As with many aggressive city builders of the era, he was defiant, as might be expected of a man whose name appeared on the cornerstone of the old Hall of Records.

Eldridge remained at 2932 Wilshire until 1919, when he sold it to Reverend Aaron F. Randall, who held various Episcopal gigs over the years and was at the time he moved in to the house the chaplain of the county hospital. Soon after arriving at 2932, the house was burglarized. Among the booty was a silver communion set, later recovered. Now the vicar of the Church of the Good Shephard down on West 51st Place, Randall was still living at 2932 on December 5, 1933, when he was robbed on the street of six dollars.

Trade had long occupied neighboring houses by the time Reverend Randall died, still at 2932, on December 7, 1936. By this time, the Hoover corner had seen two houses replaced by, first, a Texaco station and then a drive-in restaurant; all the way out toward the Park Mile, those dwellings not yet demolished had, since the 1920s, come to be occupied by dress shops, beauty parlors, doctors' offices, and, of course, real estate firms. After the Randalls left, 2932 became the home and manufactory of Mary Stensgaard, a dollmaker, who was moving from 2976 Wilshire three doors west. There Mrs. Stensgaard had been operating the Wilshire Doll House, where children could play among dolls their own size as well with child-scale buildings and furniture.

Of the Eldridge row, 2902 and 2914 had been demolished in 1930. With Depression and war having throttled redevelopment, 2920 survived until 1945. Postwar, all the action was much farther out on Wilshire and in western Los Angeles, which helped delay the fate of the last two houses of the row; 2932 spent many of these years as a series of voice schools. In 1961, it was the office of a crabgrass-control firm. Finally, demolition permits were issued for both 2932 and 2942 on the same day, August 23, 1963, and then only a tiny handful of the houses of Wilshire Boulevard's residential era remained.

Illustrations: Huntington Digital Library