21 Chester Place
The mystery behind “The Real Addams Family House”
Who built the house (or had it built):
Henry Gregory Newhall
Born: March 4, 1853
Died: May 20, 1903
Walter Scott Newhall
Born: August 24, 1860
Died: December 25, 1906
Credit goes to 2 out of 5 son’s of wealthy American businessman Henry Mayo Newhall, a man whose extensive land holdings became the Southern California communities of Newhall, Saugus and Valencia, and the city of Santa Clarita.
After their father died, the brothers developed the “Newhall Land and Farming Company” in 1883. Henry G. Newhall also later became the president of the California Bank, and Walter S. Newhall served as one of the Directors for the “Los Angeles Improvement Company.”
Henry should be credited as the original owner/builder of the Newhall house; he had the house built and lived there until Walter took over ownership.
Henry G. Newhall died in 1903, and Walter S. Newhall died on Christmas day in 1906. They were both buried in the Newhall Family Plot; which had just been moved to Colma, California, at “Cypress Lawn Memorial” in 1901 (due to the San Francisco ban on cemeteries and burials).
Walter’s wife Nellie, did continue to live in the house for some time after he passed away. The “Los Angeles City Directory” does show that she was still living there in 1908, but in 1911 she sold the property and moved east.
Although I have not been able to find much information on Nellie, I have discovered that her full name is Nellie Hammill Trowbridge (Trowbridge is her Maiden name), and that she was married before her marriage to Walter, to a man named Dr. Frank Ainsworth (which is why her name was listed as Nellie Trowbridge Ainsworth when she married Walter in 1896).
After Walter passed away, Nellie married U.S Navy Captain Charles H. Harlow in March 1911, sold the Newhall property in April and moved east with her new husband. She died on January 12, 1942 (at 78 years of age), and is buried with her third husband at the “Arlington National Cemetery” in Arlington, Virginia.
When was the house built:
This “Los Angeles Herald” ad dated Nov 3, 1887, says the house was being built and the “1888 Los Angeles City Directory” shows that Henry G. Newhall was residing there now, so more than likely the house was completed in early 1888.
Addresses of the house:
(According to the “Los Angeles City Directory”)
N s Adams bet South Figueroa and Scarff
Los Angeles, California
747 West Adams Street
Los Angeles, California
735 West 25th Street
Los Angeles, California
21 Chester Place
Los Angeles, California
Queen Anne style with a Colonial influence.
9 Bed rooms, 4 Bath rooms (with plumbing for two more), Hardwood floors, 45′ x 40′ burnt redwood Drawing Room, 40′ x 20′ Dinning Room in mahogany finish, White enamel finish throughout 2nd floor, Conservatory, Garage, Tool house, 225 feet frontage; with a total of 80,000 sq. ft. of land with 25 varieties of trees.
Where was the house located in Los Angeles:
Pretty much right in the center of Los Angeles. Situated southwest of downtown in what today is called the West Adams District, it originally stood off of “Adams Street” just west of “Figueroa.” The house sat in between “St. James Park” and “Chester Place.”
When was the house demolished:
On June 9, 1967, the “Department of Building and Safety” issued a demolition permit for the house; notifying the Grafe’s to vacate within or by a certain time frame (usually thirty days from the notification date; sometimes more), and just eleven days later the permit to build a parking lot was filed. On October 16, 1967 (just four months later), the ‘certificate of occupancy’ for the use of the new parking lot was issued (signifying that it was ready and could be used), so the house was demolished sometime between June 9th and October 16, 1967.
Owners/Occupants of the house during its existence:
Henry Gregory Newhall and Mary Livingston Wyatt Newhall – (Had the house built and owned until at least 1896)*
Walter Scott Newhall and Nellie Hammill Trowbridge Newhall – (After their marriage in September 1896, Walter and his wife Nellie “officially” took over and owned the house until April 1911; although, Walter had already been living in the house pre-1896 to manage Rancho San Francisco, when Henry moved his family overseas)*
Jenny Henry Scranton Roe-Tufts and Gorham Tufts Jr. – (Bought the Newhall property in April 1911, and owned the house until 1914)*
Edward Laurence Doheny and Carrie Estelle Betzold Doheny – (Bought the land and house in 1914, and turned the Newhall house into a rental property)*
– Rental Occupants –
James Harvey Adams & Lillian Turner Adams – (Rented the house from 1915-1932)*
Paul and Helen Grafe – (Rented the house from 1936-1967)*
Mount St. Mary’s University – (Acquired all of “Chester Place” after Estelle Doheny died. The ‘Doheny Campus’ officially opened in 1962. “21 Chester Place” continued to be a rental home until its demise)
* since there is not a “Los Angeles City Directory” for every year, dates of occupancy are an estimation (as close as I possibly can).
1853 – Los Angeles Land Survey was conducted and Henry Gregory Newhall was born
1855 – Henry Hancock purchased “Lot” of land off of “Adams Blvd.” (The land that would later become “Chester Place” in 1899, which is adjacent to the land where the Newhall house would be built 11 years prior in 1888)
1860 – Walter Scott Newhall was born
1867 – Nathan Vail bought “Lot” from Henry Hancock, built a home and lived there for almost 20 years
1883 – The Newhall brothers develop the “Newhall Land and Farming Company” based in San Francisco
1885 – Nathan Vail sold his land and home to Charles Silent
1887 – Henry G. Newhall starts construction on a house in the Adams District adjacent to Charles Silent’s land, and also becomes the president of the new “California Bank.”
1888 – Henry G. Newhall’s house was completed just east of “St. James Park” and west of Charles Silent’s land (that was later to become “Chester Place”), and is now listed in the “Los Angeles City Directory”
1896 – Walter S. Newhall and wife Nellie, officially occupy and own the house now
1899 – Charles Silent subdivided and created “Chester Place” on his land, creating a new street stretching from “West 23rd St.” to “West Adams Street” with gateways at both entrances. A new street running parallel was also made (on the west side named “West 25th St.”), for access to “St. James Park.” House address changed from “747 W. Adams St.” to “735 West 25th St.”
1900 – “Chester Place” starts to fill up with wealthy residences wanting a private gated community
1901 – The Doheny’s moved in to “8 Chester Place”
1902 – The Doheny’s started buying up the remaining lots in “Chester Place” from Charles Silent to control their surroundings (eventually owning all of the houses in “Chester Place” and renting them out to friends and acquaintances). The portion of “W. 25th St.” that the house sat on was renamed “Chester Place” during this time and the houses address changed to “21 Chester Place”
1903 – Henry G. Newhall died
1906 – Walter S. Newhall died
1911 – Walter’s wife Nellie remarried and sold the Newhall property to Mr. Gorham Tufts Jr., and Jenny Roe-Tufts
1914 – Mrs. Jenny H. S. Roe sold “21 Chester Place” to Edward and Estelle Doheny
1915 – The house became included and enclosed (with a gateway installed on the street), with in “Chester Place.” It then became a rent house as Estelle had done with her other homes that she had acquired in the immediate area. First set of rental occupants move into house
1958 – Estelle Doheny died leaving “Chester Place” to the “Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles”; whom then gave the land to “Mount St. Mary’s University”
1962 – “Mount St. Mary’s University” took over “Chester Place” and opened up their satellite campus there. The Newhall house continued to be a rent home for the current renters who had lived there since the 1930’s
1964 – “21 Chester Place” was used in the 1964 Motion Picture “Seven Days in May” and “The Addams Family” 1964-66 TV sitcom
1965 – “21 Chester Place” was used in the 60’s TV sitcom “Hazel” (Season 5/Episode 5)
1967 – The Newhall House – “21 Chester Place” – was demolished sometime between June 9, 1967 and October 16, 1967
Video Footage of the house:
Was used in the very 1st episode of the 60’s TV sitcom “The Addams Family” in the opening scene, Season 1/Episode 1 (1964) “The Addams Family Goes To School” – (Exterior footage of house).
Was used in the 1964 Motion Picture “Seven Days In May” – (Exterior footage of house).
Was used in one episode of the 60’s TV sitcom “Hazel”, Season 5/Episode 5 (1965) “The Holdout” – (Exterior footage of house).