3828 Wilshire Boulevard


Indicated in the 1925 image above at its location just west of the Western Avenue intersection at top, 3828 Wilshire occupied Lot 20 of the Western Wilshire Heights Tract; a construction permit for it had been issued on April 24, 1909, to Marie S. Eaton, wife of Fred G. Eaton. Mr. Eaton—not to be confused with the aqueduct promoter and former mayor—was retired; Marie appears to have handled the couple's retirement speculations in Los Angeles real estate, although 3828 was built not as a project to resell but as the Eatons' own home and that of Marie's widowed mother, Elizabeth Schwinn. Mrs. Eaton chose a design of the W. G. Hanson Building Company, a firm active in the city at the time. While in 1909 Wilshire beyond Western Avenue was remote and seemingly safe for single-family residential development, within a decade the pace of Los Angeles's westward spread indicated to any intelligent local investor that property along the boulevard would soon be more valuable put to commercial uses, and owners pushed for rezoning. By 1920, Mrs. Eaton had thrown off retirement entirely and opened a downtown real estate office of her own; it appears that she and Fred had decided to cash out of 3828 by then. The house was on the market in January 1920 for $21,500.

Featured in a 1924 issue of Photoplay among a group of Hollywood stars who invested their earnings
wisely, Ruth Roman took a hands-on approach to the development of Roland Square, being laid
out on her property just to the south of A. W. Ross's emerging Miracle Mile. The soon-to
be-famous commercial strip would only accelerate Los Angeles's westward march.

While trade was on the horizon, it seems that traffic along Wilshire and inconsistent residential development had not yet discouraged homeseekers to disregard the boulevard, not even big Hollywood talent. Becoming known locally for her real estate acumen on top of her stardom, and apparently uninterested in living a movie-star life in, say, Beverly Hills, even as Pickfair was making that suburb filmdom's choice, Ruth Roland, divorced from Los Angeles automobile salesman Lionel Kent, acquired a succession of ordinary mid–Wilshire Corridor houses in which to make her home as a divorced woman living with her aunt Edith Thompson. Her other development schemes included Roland Square (as illustrated above) and the 14-story Roland Apartments slated for the northeast corner of Wilshire and Ardmore, the planning and advertising for which got quite far along in 1923 but which was aborted when a scheme to widen the boulevard intervened. After occupying 901 South Manhattan Place and then 605 South Norton Avenue as their residence, Roland and Mrs. Thompson moved into 3828 Wilshire by 1922 and were listed in city directories at 3828 Wilshire as late as the 1926 edition. After Ruth married actor Ben Bard on Valentine's Day 1929, the couple—and Mrs. Thompson—moved to a house on Sweetzer Avenue just above Sunset Boulevard.

By 1928, directory listings and building permits indicate that 3828 Wilshire Boulevard was now caught up in the frenzy of trade that followed closely on the heels of Wilshire's fitful residential era, now occupied by the first of a series of businesses. In 1928, an enterprise run by the curiously named Louis C. Shingle, the California Clinorium, was offering "drugless" X-ray and physio-therapy treatments at 3828. By 1930, the Hob Nob, a restaurant, was in residence; three years later the Hob Nob had become the Café Europa. On the premises later in the decade was a third establishment raided by police in 1938 when it was discovered to be a bookmaking parlor. The Eaton/Roland house limped along as a tattered remnant of the boulevard's fleeting residential years all the way until 1965; a demolition permit for it was issued by the Department of Building and Safety on December 23, 1964.

Illustrations: LAPL; Photoplay