647 South New Hampshire Avenue


Originally designated 3251 Wilshire Boulevard, the house once at the northwest corner of South New Hampshire Street had by 1909 adopted its discreet side-street address in the manner of its geographic counterpart a block to the east. Mrs. Byron Erkenbrecher was the daughter of Joseph Burkhard of 671 South Vermont, the geographic counterpart a block to the east; Mr. Erkenbrecher was a real estate and mining man and a banker, just the sort of fellow his prominent father-in-law might have thought right for his daughter, perhaps a man similar to himself. Social success was built into the marriage, given Burkhard's prominence. Byron, a Cincinnati man, did make a name for himself in Los Angeles, apparently with just the sort of pugnacious attitude to make him more friends in the business world than enemies, though he was often involved in one lawsuit or another. He was chivalrous, too: When one of a crowd of revelers threw confetti on Anna in front of a theater one evening in 1902, Byron, despite being crippled in a way unspecified by the Herald, took offense and decked the offending party; when the punch was returned, Byron drew a revolver. He sounds more obnoxious than charming, but he did take care of his wife after their marriage on April 28, 1897. As the couple prospered, Byron indulged in sailing on a large scale. To placate Anna as he raced his Detroit and pursued other sporting activities and business deals, he built her a new house in 1906 just a block from the recently completed residence of her parents on Wilshire Boulevard. The next year, he built one around the corner at 681 South Berendo Street for his widowed mother.

Perhaps it was a case of mutual cause and effect, Byron's ego clashing with his wife's increasing desire to be near her own family. The Erkenbreckers stayed married into the mid-teens; by 1916, their directory listings had them living apart, he around the corner at 623 South Berendo. He kept his profile high, on the seas in racing events and by endorsing Don Lee's Cadillacs in newspaper advertisements. Anna moved on, marrying eminent proctologist William H. Kiger in 1918. Dr. Kiger moved into 647; the couple was home at the time of the bombing of the Lawler house across the street at 646 in August 1919. In several ways, their corner of Wilshire Boulevard was fast going downhill. By the following March 16, Anna Kiger would be dead, though no cause has been ascertained. Dr. Kiger moved to Windsor Square and remarried after waiting a respectable year. The two Erkenbrecher sons do not appear to have gone to live with their father; it seems that Anna's sister, Susan, and her husband James C. Everding, living in San Francisco at the time of Anna's death, moved down to Los Angeles to take care of Byron Jr. and Joseph B., 17 and 14, at least for a few years. The Everdings remained in the house until 1925, when they moved to Pasadena. That year saw the disposition of all Burkhard holdings on Wilshire Boulevard—by 1927, an elaborate filling station would fill the lots between the two houses. The parental home at 641 South Vermont was vacated, with demolition to come before long; auctions in February 1925 disposed of the contents of 647 South New Hampshire. The aerial photograph at top shows Wilshire in transition: Built as the Francesca, the 10-story Talmadge apartments at the southeast corner of Berendo had opened in July 1924, replacing Earle C. Anthony's house, moved to Beverly Hills the year before. Henry O'Melveny's 3250 peeking out behind it would remain until 1930 when it was moved to Windsor Square, to which 3200 had just been relocated from the empty lot at upper center. Just below the lot is Louis M. Cole's 3240, which would hang on into the mid '30s, with a filling station across the boulevard since 1927; the south edge of the Erkenbrecher house appears at upper left.

The Department of Building and Safety issued a permit for the demolition of 647 on December 26, 1928, four months after one was issued for the Burkhard house. A charming John and Donald Parkinson–designed two-story showroom building was completed on the Erkenbrecher corner in 1929, addressed 3257 Wilshire. When commercial buildings first came to the boulevard, they were almost invariably of great style—if only the same could be said of the current generic 18-story structure of 1973 on the corner today.

Illustration: LAPL