3301 Wilshire Boulevard


The history of Southern California is one of successive swells of Midwesterners, men living in a huge swath from eastern New York State to the Great Plains, seeking ever more space and opportunity for their families, just as their forebears had once moved inland from the Eastern seaboard. Born in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, on May 20, 1876, Charles Gordon Andrews arrived in Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century, in 1903 joining Wright & Callender, founded six years before and one of the city's fastest-growing real estate firms. His quick rise after a year to the vice-presidency of Wright & Callender called for a new house. Perhaps it is a given that real estate men, especially in the ever-metastasizing City of Angels, seek investment return over permanence—perhaps Andrews could somehow foresee that Wilshire Boulevard would inevitably rise beyond its residential roots and turn commercial. He wisely chose the prime northwest corner of Berendo Street and the still-unpaved Wilshire, purchasing his 150-by-130-foot lot in April 1907 and building on it a very modern, big-gabled Craftsman house. While considered a mansion, the house was rather modest in comparison to the grandiose Aronson pile built six years later next door at 3325. The Andrews house appears to have faced Berendo Street and have been quite close to the boulevard, which would have put everything from Model Ts, which would come to the market a year or so after the Andrewses moved in, to Packards and Cadillacs practically in its front parlor, especially should Wilshire ever be widened, which it would inevitably be. Perhaps development came faster than Andrews anticipated and the attendant traffic roar had become too much by 1917, after which Charles and Mary decamped for a stay on Benton Way before, in the way of real estate men, it was ever onward to grander precincts, in their case Windsor Square and then Hancock Park. Andrews could afford to move up: In 1919, he had brokered the sale of the nearly 3,300-acre Wolfskill Ranch to Arthur Letts, founder of The Broadway department store (and backer of John G. Bullock in his first retail endeavor). The ranch was developed into Westwood within a few years. Wright-Callender-Andrews, as the business was renamed in 1912, was dissolved in 1921, with Andrews then opening his own successful property firm. If not quite in the cinematic way of some, the man was perhaps the archetype of the early-20th-century Los Angeles booster: a head for opportunity, the California Club, the Country Club, and, above all, self-made.

Andrews may have retained ownership of 3301 after moving out, renting it as the value of its lot rose ever higher. Widowed attorney Samuel M. Sargent was listed in the 1920 Federal census as living at 971 Elden avenue, within walking distance of Wilshire and Berendo; in that year's city directory, he is also listed at 3100—perhaps he used the house as an office. Successively over the next two years, the names Michael G. Heim and Mildred C. Eastman were associated with the address. It was Mrs. Eastman and her husband, hotel manager George A. Eastman, who would move into 3301 briefly, and then give the house a second act. All around 3301, with commerce roaring east along Wilshire, houses were being jacked up and moved, among them 3325 next door, to 31 Fremont Place666 South Berendo, to Beverly Hills; and 3200 and 3250, to Windsor Square. It was to the latter subdivision that the Eastmans would move 3301 and its garage; they were issued relocation permits by the Department of Buildings on May 28, 1923. The couple stayed in their relocated house, now at 602 South Lucerne Boulevard, for only a few years. The house would last on its new corner until 1957, when it was, unfortunately, replaced with the less picturesque residence there today.

With talk among saavy real estate men (if not yet among the general public) of the Miracle Mile forming three miles west along Wilshire, it appears that Andrews, if he did indeed still own the old house at Wilshire and Berendo, thought the time was right to sell. On April 22, 1923, the Times reported that Abram Post and California state senator Louis H. Roseberry had together just purchased both northerly corners of the intersection. Architects Meyer & Holler were said to be the architects for 3301's replacement, the Mediterranean Revival Post Building, opened in the fall of 1925, whose tenant list over the years would include a branch of the Dorothy Gray cosmetics firm and the nationally known shop of needlepoint guru Lucie Newman. For the lot across Berendo on the northeast corner, apparently never before built on, Meyer & Holler designed the Roseberry Building, similar in massing to the Post Building but of a different design, one with Churrigueresque detailing. Unlike its companion, razed in 1969 and replaced by the regrettable but inevitable 12-story Wilshire Plaza, the Roseberry remains as an especially charming reminder of the boulevard's early, more human-scaled commercial years.

Illustration: LAT