Sometimes The Answers Are Within An Arm’s Reach

Early on in the planning stages of the upstairs renovation, Susan left a folder on my desk containing documents related to the house that I leafed through again this morning — this time a bit more studiously. Some deal with the foundation work she had done when she bought the house in 1999, and others are historical in nature.

From other paperwork, I’ve long known the property was first deeded in 1906, but as to when the house was built has been a bit less clear, narrowed down to sometime between then and 1916 — nebulous because of a missing chunk of that period’s old-school hand-drawn Sanborn insurance maps that are available for viewing online at the L.A. Public Library’s website. But that always seemed odd to me as to why the land might sit unbuilt upon for nine years.

The answer is, of course: it didn’t. I don’t know how I missed it in the past, but in that folder that’s been an arm’s length away from me for the last couple months is a copy of the “Board of Public Works, Department of Buildings, Application for Erection of Frame Buildings Class D” made by owner O.W. Butler for a seven-room residence of 1,536 square feet at a cost of $2,909.

Date of the application: March 18, 1907.

There’s no reason to think work didn’t commence and get completed before the end of that year, but since there’s no way of knowing that specific date, March 18, 1907 will now be what we consider the house’s unofficially official birthdate.

I’m just geek enough to be disappointed at having missed her centennial.

Part of the confusion is that I’d seen a similar permit to build dated 1916, and flipping past the 1907 one, I found that one — dated July 11 — and attached to it were drawings that solved another mystery: that application was for the 300-square-foot garage (whose estimated cost was $125).

Pix of the three documents after the jump.

Other stuff confirmed/discovered: The original house plans included a brick fireplace, but in the early 1950s when it was converted to a four-unit rental/boardinghouse inspectors indicated the existence of a gas furnace but no fireplace. So if one was built in 1907 at some point later on it was demolished for a central heating unit (also now long gone, except for the heating vents in the walls).




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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."