Quick Facts

21 Chester Place

The mystery behind “The Real Addams Family House”

Who built the house (or had it built):

The Newhall Brothers – William & Edwin (top), Henry (middle), Walter & George (in front)

The Newhall brothers – William & Edwin (top), Henry (middle), Walter & George (in front)

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 Gregory Newhall (the eldest brother), truly should be credited as the original owner/builder of the Newhall house; he had the house built and lived there for at least 8 years, until Walter took over ownership.

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When was the house built:

Los Angeles Herald, Nov 3, 1887

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 the house was either completed in very late 1887, or early 1888.

1888 Los Angeles City Directory

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Addresses of the house:
(According to the Los Angeles City Directory)

1888-1890

N s Adams bet South Figueroa and Scarff
Los Angeles, California

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1891-1893

Unknown

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1894-1898

747 West Adams Street
Los Angeles, California

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1899-1901

735 West 25th Street
Los Angeles, California

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1902

21 Chester Place
Los Angeles, California

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Architectural Period:

Queen Anne style with a Colonial influence.

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House Specifications:

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.

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Where was the house located in 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.

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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.

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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)*

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Mount St. Mary’s College (now a University) – (Acquired all of Chester Place after Estelle Doheny died. The ‘Doheny Campus’ officially opened in 1962; whereupon, 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).

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Time-Line:

1853Los 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)

1860Walter Scott Newhall was born

1867Nathan 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

1885Nathan 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

1888Henry G. Newhall’s house is 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

1899Charles 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.

1900Chester Place starts to fill up with wealthy residences wanting a private gated community

1901The Doheny’s moved in to 8 Chester Place

1902The 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. Between the 1901 and 1902 Los Angeles City Directories, the portion of West 25th St. that ran right in front of the house was renamed Chester Place; and the house address changed to 21 Chester Place during this time

1903  Henry G. Newhall died

1906Walter S. Newhall died

1911Walter’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. The house then became included and enclosed (with gates installed on the street), within Chester Place. It then became a rent house, as Estelle had done with her other homes that she had acquired in the immediate area

1915 – First set of rental occupants are living in the house

1958Estelle Doheny died leaving Chester Place to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles; whom then gave the land to Mount St. Mary’s College (now considered a University) 

1962Mount St. Mary’s College 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

196421 Chester Place was used in the 1964 Motion Picture “Seven Days in May” and “The Addams Family” 1964-66 TV sitcom

196521 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

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Video Footage of the house:

Was used in the very 1st episode of the 60’s TV sitcom “The Addams Family” (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).

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