119 Fremont Place

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WILSHIRE BOULEVARD   BERKELEY SQUARE    ST. JAMES PARK   
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Once its developers got Fremont Place officially up and running in the fall of 1911, the tract and its landmark gates languished along with many of its competitors as prosperous Angelenos got used to the idea of living in the ever-more-platted but still largely barren West End of town; Angelenos were also getting used to the idea of driving, which gained its modern mojo when the Model T arrived in late 1908 and as dusty Wilshire Boulevard, destined to be the new Main Street of Los Angeles, began to be paved in westward segments. Windsor Square across the road was founded the same year as Fremont Place; as in the dozens of successive developments lining both sides of Wilshire, houses rose only slowly in these precincts as homeseekers waited until someone else took the plunge of being the first to buy a lot in a new subdivision and then to actually build a conspicuous home on it rather than flip the property, as many did.

The Baist real estate atlas depicts only two small structures having been built in Fremont Place by the time its 1914 edition was published, both on lot 115. It could be that these buildings composed the on-site sales office of the subdivision. Very soon, on the heels of the Horne house, they were replaced with project principal David N. Barry’s own home—despite his being a Fremont developer, it appears that Barry’s house was not quite the first built in the Place. And while some sources cling to the idea that #55, among other projects, was the earliest, the first mention of building permits for a Fremont Place lot appeared in the Times on February 1, 1914. Issued as they often were to the distaff side of a couple, whether for tax planning or as part of the tradition of providing security to married women, legal documents for a new house at 119 Westerly Drive were in the name of Mrs. Frank Ernest Horne, who with her husband had recently moved west from Chicago. On March 1, 1914, the Times gave a fairly thorough description of the house designed for the Hornes' 190-by-185-foot lot. It was to be a 14-room dwelling in the emerging foursquare Colonial style that was almost radical in its symmetrical repudiation of the Victorian-holdover, multi-element designs common in the prevailing Craftsman aesthetic. The Times described a house that was to be "reminiscent of best Early American homes...one...faced with red brick laid in white mortar. The porches and cornice are being plastered with white cement. The structure will cover a ground area of 72x78 feet. The grounds, which are high and sightly, will contain a garage, teahouse, pergolas and formal gardens.... The lower floor of the house will contain a reception hall, living-room, sunroom, dining-room, library, billiard-room, kitchen and maids' quarters. All of the main rooms will open onto a wide terrace. The automobile driveway is carried through a Colonial porte cochere. The second floor will contain five bed chambers, a sewing-room, three baths and several balconies." The designer and construction supervisor cited by the paper was Clinton Nourse, an established Des Moines architect whose distinguished family had begun moving to Los Angeles from Iowa in the previous decade, some of them settling in one of Fremont Place's modelsBerkeley Square—a West Adams development still competitive with high-end Wilshire tracts in 1914.

Frank Horne died after 20 years at 119; with his daughter Ruth now married to Hartson Bovee, his widow Jessie sold the house and moved to a new duplex nearby. Now a century old, the oldest residence behind the gates of Fremont Place appears to stand largely unaltered:








Illustrations: LAT; Google