3001 Wilshire Boulevard


Back in Massachusetts, William Nash appears to have butchered enough animals over the years to leave his widow comfortably fixed when he died in Springfield in 1897. Mrs. Elizabeth Nash, as newspapers would henceforth refer to her, soon began a series of trips to Los Angeles to put her sadness—and the abattoirs and winters of New England—behind her. The contrast of coasts worked its predictable magic. By 1903, after a long stay at the Hotel Rosslyn, Mrs. Nash and her two grown children were living on fashionable Park View Street, planning a permanent Southern California future.

Fortuitously, another Los Angeles widow was peddling lots not far out Wilshire Boulevard, which at the time must have been a noisy place to live. Clara Shatto, whose husband George owned a great deal of Los Angeles (and, for a time, all of Catalina), was busy adding to the rapid if short-lived residential development of Wilshire beyond the pre-1896 city limits at Hoover Street. Hammer blows rang daily throughout the district as dozens and dozens of houses went up. On December 11, 1904, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mrs. Shatto had sold Mrs. Nash a 110-by-180-foot lot at the northeast corner of Virgil Avenue in addition to a large lot nearby on the west side of Juanita Street (soon renamed Shatto Place). Mrs. Nash chose John C. Austin, then in partnership with Frederick G. Brown, to build a house for her own use on the corner property, designated 3001 Wilshire, for which a construction permit was issued by the Superintendent of Buildings on October 17, 1905. While it was perhaps not one on the scale of a Swift or an Armour, the house that the Springfield Provision Company financed was a lovely example of the popular big-gabled Los Angeles dwellings of the era.

Laura Nash had married Los Angeles window dresser John B. Cornwell in 1898—he would have a number of occupations over the years—which was naturally a factor in her family's move west. Mr. and Mrs. Cornwell and her brother, Arthur, before he married in 1909, all lived at 3001 Wilshire with Mrs. Nash. The Times and the Los Angeles Herald reported on the matriarch's social life fairly extensively; she liked to play cards. Aside from bridge parties, the most exciting thing to happen at 3001 over the years was a confrontation with a burglar on April 26, 1911, reported by the Times. John Cornwell, by this time a real-estate salesman, "went to the mat" with the intruder—"that is, the carpet of the best room of the home. They rolled here and there, trying strangle holds, hammerlocks, toe holds, half-Nelsons and plain choke holds." The porch climber fled. 

Elizabeth Nash and her daughter and son-in-law were still living at 3001 Wilshire when John Cornwell died on December 21, 1928. Seventeen days later, having played her last game of canasta, Mrs. Nash followed suit. Despite the double blow and the din of trade out front, Laura Nash Cornwell remained alone at 3001 with servants for several more years. While the commercialization of the boulevard had been under way for a decade, it was after the September 1929 opening a half-block west of Bullock's-Wilshire that the "old" houses along the thoroughfare—most not much more than 20 years old—fell like dominoes. Finally deciding to sell the house as the Depression deepened, Laura moved to a flat at the Wilshire View apartments a few doors up Virgil Avenue, where she remained until at least 1940 (she died in 1963). The commercial interests to whom she had sold 3001 were issued a demolition permit on June 21, 1935, soon after which the house disappeared forever.

3001 Wilshire Boulevard soon after completion in 1907

Illustrations: LAPLLAT; Library of Congress