2702 Wilshire Boulevard


Built in 1905 at the southwest corner of Wilshire and Rampart boulevards, 2702 was a commission of the firm of Sumner Hunt and Wesley Eager by Richard Bruns, late of St. Paul, Minnesota, and known as Carl Franz Wilhelm Richard Bruns before emigrating from Silesia in 1882. Bruns had bought his unimproved 90-by-150-foot lot from a Mrs. M. A. Taylor in March 1904; on May 15, 1905, the Superintendent of Buildings issued a permit for a frame-and-plaster house.

At center right, the Bruns house is seen from Sunset/Lafayette Park after the January 191
opening of the Bryson, at far left; to right of the apartment house is 2721 Wilshire,
followed by the towered Hershey Arms, opened in 1907. To the right of 2702
are the Eager-Stewart house at 2706 and the Dent house at 2720.

Curious is a headline in the Times of January 31, 1909: LUCKY ANGELENOS SEE MESSINA DIE. While in Sicily a month earlier, Mr. and Mrs. Bruns and their 14-year-old son, Clarence, had witnessed, and were lucky enough to survive, the massive December 28 earthquake that killed 123,000 people. Given that by the next year 2702 was occupied by Phineas Newmark, a coffee and tea importer and member of a founding Los Angeles merchant clan, it may have seemed that the prospect of a similar seismic occurrence in California had given the Brunses second thoughts about returning to Los Angeles; as it turns out, Newmark was only leasing the house while the Brunses were traveling or back in St. Paul during the warmer months. In any case, Phineas's tenure was short; he died on December 26, 1910. The Brunses would retain ownership of the house for at least 25 more years while continuing to rent it from time to time; Adolph Karl Steinlein, a principal in Haas, Baruch & Company, another pioneer Los Angeles importing and wholesale grocery concern, was in residence in 1915. Eventually, with tall apartment buildings replacing houses and any pretense of a single-family residential neighborhood fading rapidly, houses such as 2702 were divided into apartments. Commerce was not far behind.

As seen in the Los Angeles Times on January 8, 1928

Opera coach Manuel Sanchez De Lara was renting the Bruns house by 1928 to teach voice; not long after, Dr. Dennis Vivian Moore, an osteopath, moved his practice from downtown as well as his family into 2702 for the next several years. In another apartment lived delivery clerk Walter J. Burk and his wife Mathilda. Then Jane Assell, proprietor of restaurants in several old houses in the district, opened one of her Pollyanna Tea Rooms in the Bruns house in 1932, succeeded later that year by the Adele Lang Tea Room, which appears to have been an offshoot of the Assell operation. (The Adele Lang shop's tenancy was brief; it moved west to 637 South Ardmore Avenue, just off Wilshire, within a couple of weeks of its advertisement seen below.) Tea rooms were ubiquitous in Los Angeles during the '20s and '30s; it seems that within a generation the once-modern early Wilshire Boulevard houses on either side of Lafayette Park had become quaint settings for ladies who lunch.

From the Times: April 30, 1932; December 24, 1932; and December 24, 1935

The Bruns family, appreciating the commercial income their property generated, then decided to reconfigure the lot to increase revenue. The Associated Oil Company, soon to merge with Tide Water, leased the corner for one of its Flying A filling stations; the house, rather than being demolished, was relocated, if not very far. On July 22, 1935, permits were issued by the city for its move to the back of the lot, where it was turned to face Rampart. At its new address, 659 South Rampart, Jane Assell resumed operations under her own name before moving across the park to 2976 Wilshire several years later. Various other commercial entities would occupy the old house until 1955. That year, the Department of Building and Safety issued permits for the demolition of the Flying A station on January 27 and for the house on May 18. The current two-story building designed by Claud Beelman & Associates was completed on the corner the next year.

The rear of Bruns house is seen at far right after it was moved to the back of its lot and turned
to face Rampart Boulevard; an Associated service station was built on its former site. The
 Hershey Arms is in the background; the white house at center is 2706 Wilshire.

Illustrations: LAPLLAT