3020 Wilshire Boulevard
PLEASE SEE OUR COMPANION HISTORIES
PLEASE SEE OUR COMPANION HISTORIES
FOR AN INTRODUCTION TO WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, CLICK HERE
Israel Wellington Gardner died before he had the chance to cash in on his biggest real estate bonanza. It wasn't as though he'd missed many property booms, having been in the business in Los Angeles for decades; but it was his own house at 3020 Wilshire that paid the highest return on his investment, for his widow and daughter if not for himself, riding as it did the boulevard's wave from prestige residential avenue to world-famous Packard-and-Cadillac-trade commercial thoroughfare.
Wellington and Mary Gardner remained at 3020 Wilshire even as the winds of commerce were blowing down the boulevard. Several neighboring houses had already been given over to shops by the time Mr. Gardner died at home on February 12, 1926. Plans for extensive rezoning and drastic widening of the boulevard were being discussed. The ornate "Wilshire Special" streetlamps, seen in several photographs here, were installed in conjunction with widening and the burial of utilities, most of this work being accomplished during 1928. The famous pivotal moment in the transformation of Wilshire Boulevard from residential avenue came late that year when Emma Summers's house at 655 Wilshire Place, across from the Gardners, was demolished to make way for the dramatic new Bullock's-Wilshire store. A few householders hung on, particularly widows comfortable in their longtime homes. After 26 years at 3020, Mary Etta Gardner died on January 31, 1932. After the funeral, held at home, the house appears to have been leased as her estate was being settled; it is unclear as to when Ella finally sold the property. She may have been waiting for the effects of the Depression to abate to ensure maximum profit. For a time, Dr. James F. Blanchard, an osteopath, occupied the house; cosmetologist Irehne Hobson was in residence until 1940, the year her directory listing described her business as a "House of Creative Beauty and Nonchalant Personality," offering "Special Foods for Dynamic Power" and "Private Lessons Covering Social Ease, Posture, Poise, and Rhythm." (Nevermind the suit brought against her in 1930 by a client blinded during some sort of facelift operation.) Perfect for a place situated between glamorous Bullock's-Wilshire and what had once been the Lady Ann Cavendish Tea Room at 3002, opened as early as 1923 and raided some years later on suspicion of being a speakeasy for society matrons. It could be that the Bullock company bought the Gardner corner if not the house itself; at any rate, the side yard of 3020 became 3022 Wilshire when a sleek new building designed by Morgan, Walls & Clements was completed in early 1936 to house Margaret's Flowers. Margaret was Margaret Bullock, older daughter of the late John G. Bullock, who had picked up and moved William Lacy's house at 3200 Wilshire to 627 South Plymouth Boulevard in 1924. Margaret lived there with her mother; flowers kept her busy for a few years. After 1938, various other genteel shops were at 3022, including Bettye Lee, ladies' furnishings, followed by the Page Boy maternity shop in 1940. Page Boy was 3022's mainstay during the '40s and '50s; it and the Gardner house, occupied in 1957 by Dr. Reginald Franklyn Fisher's Wilshire Fine Arts Studio, stood until 1958. On April 7 of that year, the Department of Building and Safety issued permits for the demolition of both the Gardner house and the flower shop. Nine days later, a permit was issued for construction of the now-much-altered building currently on the corner.
|The view west from Virgil Avenue shows Bullock's-Wilshire poised to|
open in the fall of 1929. The Gardner house remains at left.
A Union 76 station at the northwest corner of Virgil Avenue has replaced the house at 3033
Wilshire Boulevard in this shot dated 1949. The Gardner house at 3020, just visible
at far left, still stands. The Page Boy maternity shop has replaced
Margaret's Flowers at 3022; a nondescript two-story
structure built in 1958 is at the corner today.
Illustrations: USCDL; LAPL; John Bengston